Spanish designer fashion brands saw a recovery in 2021, with sales increasing by 8% compared to the previous year. However, they have not yet fully recovered to the levels seen in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report by the Spanish Association of Fashion Designers (ACME), the aggregate turnover of these brands in 2021 was €763.6 million, which is 21% lower than in 2019.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, companies associated with ACME showed improvements in various areas. Employment in the sector has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with a 7.2% increase in direct jobs compared to 2020 and a 3.5% increase compared to 2019, totaling 6,517 workers.

Production also rebounded in 2021, with an 8.3% increase to approximately 13.1 million garments and accessories. However, this is still 25% lower than the record high reached in 2019. The number of points-of-sale for designer brands increased modestly by 1.1%.

E-commerce played a crucial role during the pandemic and continued to grow significantly in 2021. It experienced a remarkable growth rate of 55.8% to reach €120 million, the highest increase since records began in 2015. Compared to 2019, the growth was even more impressive at 137.2%. Additionally, Spanish designer brands achieved success internationally, with a 30.9% increase in sales abroad, accounting for 40.6% of the sector’s total business.

Looking ahead, partnerships and collaborations are seen as the main trend in the sector, according to 61% of the companies associated with ACME. This trend has gained strength during the pandemic and is expected to continue. Internationalization is also a key future trend for designer labels, capitalizing on its prominence in 2020.

Modesto Lomba, president of ACME, highlighted the resilience of Spanish designer fashion firms. Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, these companies have made tough decisions and prioritize responsibility, local production, skilled labor, and quality. These factors are driving the slow recovery of the industry.

Pepa Bueno, executive director of ACME, emphasized the growing demand for Spanish designer fashion in international markets. Internationalization presents both challenges and opportunities for the sector. ACME, founded in 1998 by prominent designers, aims to advocate for the interests of fashion designers in Spain. The association provides tools to enhance their competitiveness and acts as a representative of the Spanish fashion design sector to public and private entities.

While there is still progress to be made, the Spanish designer fashion industry shows optimistic signs for the future. Focusing on collaborations, internationalization, and the resilience of its designers, there is hope for a complete recovery to pre-pandemic levels.

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