Japanese love affair with Italian coats and jackets set to blossom

Japanese love affair with Italian coats and jackets set to blossom

Family-run company Herno produces high quality coats and jackets from its base in Lesa, Novara in northern Italy. Employing 170 people, it combines high style and quality with environmentally sustainable production.

In 2016, sales revenue reached €76 million, a 10% increase on 2015. Exports accounted for over 60% of the company's total revenue. Herno is already well established in Japan. It opened its first store in Japan in 1971 in Osaka. In 2017 it plans to open a second flagship store in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza district. The Japanese market accounts for over 15% of Herno’s sales.

Italian clothing exports to Japan are a success story. In 2016 they amounted to €1 billion, a 7% increase on 2015. Japan is the industry's fourth biggest export market outside Europe.

Japanese consumers appreciate Italian style and the high quality that comes from Italian producers' investment in research and development. But barriers to exporting remain. Japanese tariffs on clothes are up to 10%. And Japan has its own standards for care labels instead of using international ones. Having to produce different labels for the Japanese market imposes extra costs for Europe’s exporters.

Herno hopes the new EU-Japan trade deal will help on both fronts. It will scrap Japanese customs tariffs completely from day one and Japan has agreed to align its labelling system with international standards. This will cut EU exporters’ costs and make them more competitive.

And it won't just be clothing companies like Herno and their employees that benefit. More exports will mean that companies providing Herno with services, from logistics to accountancy, are also set to reap rewards.

"The new EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is good news for companies like Herno. By cutting customs tariffs and simplifying standards, it'll help us free up time, resources and money to be invested more productively. And it’ll create a setting in which a competitive and innovative player like Herno can thrive and export even more." says Claudio Morenzi, the CEO of Herno.

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