ACME's Modesto Lomba: “Spain is where mass market trends are born”
To talk about the Spanish fashion sector in perspective requires honesty underpinned by history and experience, self-criticism and high doses of confidence to defend a sector that represents 2.9% of Spain’s GDP. Coinciding with the fourth edition of an event organised by the Association of Fashion Designers of Spain (ACME) for the promotion of Spanish designers during Paris Fashion Week, its president Modesto Lomba reflects on its creation and fast-fashion as industry assets, its international position, the support it gets from Spanish institutions and the elements of a sector that some have yet to understand.
FashionNetwork.com: How would you describe the current Spanish fashion industry?
Modesto Lomba: At the moment, Spain is where mass market trends are born, although we Spaniards are not used to speaking well of ourselves. After Haute Couture and prêt-à-porter, we are now living under the reign of fast-fashion. Big fashion companies, with Inditex Group leading the way, are dictating mass market trends. We are a very creative country, with a large number of diverse and highly qualified designers. Following France, with its luxury and Haute Couture, and Italy with ready-to-wear, Spain is the third pillar, defining fast-fashion.
FNW: Queen Elizabeth II attended Richard Quinn’s catwalk show at London Fashion Week, and President Emmanuel Macron invited hundreds of industry insiders to the Elysee Palace during Paris Fashion Week. What do you think about the support Spanish fashion gets from local institutions?
ML: I certainly felt very jealous when I read the stories. The news of the Queen of England attending a show demonstrates the sector’s important to the English economy and highlights London fashion week as a fundamental activity.
We haven’t had the audacity, despite that we are a younger country with a more dynamic Royal Family. The significant figures are going unrecognised: 2.9% of Spain’s GDP comes from the fashion sector, which accounts for thousands of jobs. If Spanish institutions, whether the Royal Family or the Government, fail to understand this, we have a problem. I would love to give the fashion industry the importance it deserves, one that makes us competitive and allows us to have an identity and strong presence in the international market.
FNW: When it comes to self-assessment, what should the sector change to be more competitive and project a better image abroad?
ML: In Spain, we have been historically wrong in our methods. French fashion is not made by Italians or Americas. It’s done by the French. English fashion and the evolution of its fashion week, which was in ‘stand-by’ for some time, is now recovering because they are now valuing their own heritage. If our Queen would attend a catwalk show, or if our President would make an important recognition to the Spanish fashion industry, other institutions of power in Spain would follow suit.
FNW: What would be the most appropriate way to portray Spanish fashion in the media?
ML: Many media outlets are wrong when they report about our designers, because they fail to recognise them as a great economic force, but it is important to consider the whole Spanish fashion industry as a 2.9% of Spain’s GDP.
We lack government involvement to value the fashion sector as a whole. Maintaining it over time will be difficult if we do not make decisions that are serious enough. According to the data compiled about ACME businesses in 2015, if we add up the revenue of the 56 members we had at the time, that would make us the sixth largest Spanish company.
FNW: What would be the strategy for Spain to get a place in the international fashion weeks calendar, until now dominated by the four big capitals?
ML: The dates and international calendar are not easy for Madrid, Barcelona or London. It is difficult to find a spot. We have changed our dates to curb the growth of London and stop a possible negative impact. It will be important to review later in future editions if we guessed it right or if we need to continue working on the dates. The weakening of other fashion weeks may also help us better place ourselves in the calendar.
FNW: The cycles are becoming faster, the ‘see-now-buy-now’ is becoming a new norm, and fast-fashion is rising as a fundamental value of Spanish fashion. How far can the industry go?
ML: Times have changed and the crisis has accelerated changes in how we interact with each other, buy products and perceive the messages that are sent by brands. And designer fashion has evolved alongside fast-fashion. Now we talk about a brand’s identity and personality, rather than trends. Trends are being currently created by Inditex, which is shaping fashion in the world’s fashion capitals.
FNW: Is the role of the designer compatible with some Spanish fashion companies’ ambition of having large distribution?
ML: The business development of a designer brand is not easy, just look at Armani. We not only propose a diversity of styles but also different business models, with a range formats, from Hannibal Laguna’s premium luxury to a more industrially developed ready-to-wear such as Ángel Schlesser, Roberto Verino and Adolfo Domínguez’s, as well as designers with a more southern Spanish identity like Juana Martín and models such as Devota & Lomba’s, with both premium and more affordable ranges.
FNW: ACME’s 2017 report ‘El diseño de moda español, en cifras’ reveals that e-commerce sales account for 3.1% of total revenue, which amounts to 405 million euros. Is e-commerce a pending issue for Spanish fashion brands?
ML: Large Spanish companies, like Inditex, are doing it very well. I think it is a business model that can be more suitable to mass market distribution than, for example, trying to decide what kind of suits will be easier to sell via online channels. It is a good communications and marketing tool, but a premium collection requires a special treatment that will not be provided in the wider industry.
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