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Vietnamese Fashion on the Global Stage: Beyond Quality Products

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As the world becomes more interconnected, Vietnamese fashion is striving to secure its position on the global stage, much like an aspiring musician aims to join a renowned international orchestra. Despite Vietnam's modest size and its reputation as a hub for fast fashion manufacturing, the country's fashion scene is beginning to make waves internationally. Esteemed designers such as Cong Tri, Chung Thanh Phong, and Lam Gia Khang, along with emerging local brands like Fancì Club and Lalune, are garnering acclaim from global celebrities. Yet, the question remains: Is their influence potent enough to echo across the vast international fashion landscape?

Achieving global recognition involves more than just the excellence of the products; it demands a blend of unique identity, style, and deep-rooted cultural inspiration. For Vietnamese fashion brands eyeing international waters, success hinges on several critical factors, including crafting compelling brand narratives, comprehending the target market, and delivering outstanding customer service. This article with Mean BLVD delves into these essential elements, offering insights into what it takes for Vietnamese fashion to truly resonate on the world stage.

1. Crafting a Compelling Brand Narrative

In today's fast-paced market, many local brands find themselves adrift, struggling to define their identity amidst fleeting trends. This lack of self-awareness and strategic direction often results in operating on mere instinct—creating products, posting on digital platforms, and running advertisements without a clear message. While domestic customers might stumble upon these brands through physical stores or personal connections, international consumers require more to build trust and loyalty. The key to bridging this gap lies in a compelling brand narrative.

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Photo: Gia Studio

A well-crafted brand story is crucial for resonating with both local and global audiences. It's the foundation upon which customers can understand a brand’s values, aspirations, and unique creative vision. Esteemed designers like Cong Tri and Chung Thanh Phong have the advantage of their personal journeys intertwining with their brands, making their stories authentic and engaging. However, for smaller or emerging Vietnamese brands, especially those without a design background, the challenge is how to articulate a narrative that captivates.

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Photo: Gia Studio

Begin by identifying what your brand stands for—be it innovation, craftsmanship, social impact, gender inclusivity, eco-conscious fashion, or tech integration. This core ethos should be the heartbeat of your brand story, guiding how you connect with your audience. For instance, a brand championing feminism might embody the spirit of breaking societal norms, championing equality, and encouraging self-expression. Your target audience, perhaps modern women or allies of feminist values, will see your brand as more than just apparel; they'll view it as a symbol of their beliefs and values. This connection transforms your products into meaningful statements, ensuring your brand not only occupies a special place in their hearts but also stands out in the crowded marketplace with a distinct and memorable identity.

2. Tailoring Strategies for Your Target Market

For fashion brands looking to make an impact on the global stage, a deep understanding of the target market is essential for success. This goes beyond keeping up with the latest fashion trends and preferences; it involves a comprehensive grasp of the cultural, historical, and value-driven nuances of the market in question. But why is this so crucial?

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Photo: Style Republik

Given Vietnam's geographical and cultural context, fashion brands originating from this Southeast Asian nation typically design for a smaller physique. However, venturing into markets like the US or Europe requires adapting to a demographic with generally larger builds. Without this crucial adjustment in product sizing and design, brands risk customer dissatisfaction due to ill-fitting products, leading to costly returns and exchanges. Consider Zara, the Spanish fashion giant, which tailored its offerings to fit the Indian market by modifying designs to align with local fashion tastes and climatic needs, including introducing region-specific items like saris and kurtas. Similarly, Uniqlo from Japan developed distinct product lines, such as "AIRism" for tropical climates and "Heattech" for colder regions, and adjusted size charts to cater to the physique of local customers in various countries.

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Photo: Style Republik

Moreover, understanding local shopping habits is vital. For instance, in China, where e-commerce platforms like Taobao, Tmall, and Xiaohongshu dominate retail, failing to leverage these channels can render traditional website advertising ineffective. This highlights the importance of market-specific research and strategy adaptation to ensure that your brand not only enters but thrives in new markets.

3. Excelling in Customer Service and Logistics for Global Markets

A pivotal yet often overlooked aspect for Vietnamese brands venturing into international markets is the quality of customer care and logistics services. Exceptional and responsive customer service is instrumental in cultivating trust and loyalty among consumers, particularly for new brands navigating the complexities of global markets. Addressing customer inquiries or concerns becomes exponentially more challenging when they originate from overseas, necessitating a proactive and prepared approach.

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To create a seamless and accessible shopping experience for international customers, starting with language inclusivity is key. Incorporating English or other relevant languages into your website and social media content can significantly enhance understanding and engagement. Streamlining the online shopping process and incorporating widely-used international payment options like PayPal or Visa further simplifies transactions for foreign buyers. Moreover, ensuring that your customer service team includes members fluent in English or the primary language of your target market can facilitate prompt issue resolution, helping retain customers and safeguard your brand's reputation.

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Logistics, too, demands careful consideration and strategic planning. International buyers expect quick and dependable shipping; failure to meet these expectations can deter repeat business. Opting for a reputable international shipping provider and clearly communicating delivery timelines can mitigate potential dissatisfaction. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the import and export regulations of different countries is crucial to avoid legal complications and protect your brand's integrity. By prioritizing these elements, Vietnamese brands can significantly enhance their appeal to international customers, laying the foundation for lasting success in the global fashion arena.

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Heidi Truong, a Master’s student in Fashion Design and Engineering at Donghua University, blends traditional Vietnamese influences with modern design trends. Based in Shanghai, she immerses herself in one of the world's fashion epicenters, enriching her expertise in sustainable and innovative fashion.

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