Fashion in danger

It’s not clear where the idea came from, but the Ministry of the Economy, Finance, and Industry has decided, once again, to reduce the already rare resources of one of our ecosystem’s centrepieces: DEFI (the Committee for the Development and Promotion of French Clothing).

It was sector professionals who asked for DEFI, it was set up with their cooperation, and it helps several hundred business each year. The Fédération Française du Prêt-à-Porter Féminin, along with other participants, plays a very active role in managing DEFI and in the choosing the programs and events that receive financing.

Our profession enjoys strong and unprecedented support from the President and the Minister of Culture, and for over a year they have shown their high regard for our industry. Yet some are trying to weaken us by singling out DEFI, a central part of a business support program.

It’s impossible here to give an in-depth description of DEFI’s activities. Every year the organisation finances over 500 participations (over 300 for women’s ready-to-wear) in trade shows in New York, Berlin, London, Milan, Kiev, Moscow, Shanghai, and Taiwan. There are also numerous international activities, including meetings in Paris where we invite agents and showrooms – and many of you participate.

DEFI energizes the industry by helping its efforts to support young (and not so young) brands to keep Paris the world’s uncontested fashion capital.

DEFI plays a role in preserving, passing on, and showcasing a range of expertise by supporting institutions across France that have proven national and international influence, for example the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Festival International de la Mode in Hyères, and the FashionTechDays in Lille. DEFI fosters both technological and digital innovation. It helps businesses to adapt and assists the emergence of cutting-edge startups that combine design and innovation. It also encourages the transition to an environmental and fair trade philosophy.

In short, DEFI is indispensable. It’s the cornerstone of a complex ecosystem that makes France the world’s fashion country and Paris the fashion capital.

Yet, contrary to all the recent public assurances from the highest political figures, particularly the Minister of the Economy, it seems that a certain number of public officials are planning to quickly attack this program – despite its proven efficiency – by substantially reducing its resources (even though its money comes from the businesses!) and by merging it with other organisations that don’t share the same goals or structure. The plan’s objectives are difficult to understand.

So, one more time, we are probably going to have to mobilise as a group to be heard and to save this efficient support program that we’ve created and that contributes immensely to the competitiveness of the entire French fashion network.

To do this, the Fédération is currently working with its partners to create a maximum of effective measures, and that includes targeting the highest level of government. I’ll be back to you quickly with more information!


Pierre-François le Louët
President, Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin