Dec 4, 2015
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Japan, flamenco’s unlikely market

Dec 4, 2015

Today, Japan is a coveted hotspot for flamenco costume designers. The country, which has more than 600 flamenco schools and over 80,000 professionals, has become the genre’s leading market, offsetting Spain’s fall in demand.

Guadalupe Moda Flamenca

A  Málaga-based brand called “Guadalupe, Moda Flamenca” specializes in dresses for women and girls, and claims Japan is its main international market. The company’s CEO, Federico Manzano, told EFE the brand is currently exhibiting in a Tokyo fair on flamenco-related products, where it has showcased for the last six years. The trade show, organized by Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia, has always helped the brand find new buyers.

“In Japan we have a turnover of around 60,000 and 70,000 euros each year, which accounts for 15% of our total international turnover”.

The label trades in several department stores such as Chacott, which is located in the Shibuya shopping district, and in a number of online stores. It also works together with an extensive network of flamenco schools.

However consolidating a foreign brand in the Japanese market is not as easy as it seems. “Many Spanish companies think they will be able to expand their business quickly, but they make a mistake and don’t come back,” says Manzano, who believes persistence is the key to build a strong relationship with Japanese distributors.

“It is hard to begin trading,” say Marisa and María José Fernández, two sisters who head the flamenco footwear brand Gladis Dance. Their brand hel operations in Japan for more than three decades through a local distributor, but the partnership was ended last week.

Ready to continue their export business in Japan, where they sell up to 4,000 pairs of shoes a year, the Fernández sisters are now looking for a new partner.

In total, 58 Andalusia companies sell their products in Japan through 29 overseas distributors, who work with a host of items from fashion and accessories to flamenco instruments, explains Dong-Syk Yun, director of the Japanese division of the Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia.

Creaciones Peira, a flamenco jewellery brand established in 1977 hopes to join the wave. "Our turnover in Spain has fallen by 80% in the last 10 years, but exports have grown 40%,” says Raul Funuyet, head of the company.

The jewellery brand has already held talks with several potential partners, including the Spanish-themed park Shima Spain Village, which received thousands of visitors a year.

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