A lack of long-term investment strategies for designing, marketing and creating new images is the basic reason why there are so few renowned fashion brands in Vietnam although the country is one of the top ten leading garments and textiles exporters in the world.

“Businesses still depend on the kinds of materials they use and their manufacturing techniques to build up their trademarks and they don’t know that to have a comprehensive fashion industry, they must address having a trademark and the right materials, design, production and distribution,” said Le Quoc An, President of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).

The shortcomings in weaving, dying and finishing and the lack of professional designers are also a factor behind the poor competitiveness of Vietnamese garments and textiles, says Nguyen Duc Hung, the Director of the Vietnam Fashion Design Institute (Fadin).

According to designer Minh Hanh, up to 90 percent of all garments and textiles companies do not have long-term development and training strategies. Their fashion trends and designs are mainly copied from catalogues and samples supplied by foreign partners.

Faced with this situation, Vietnam ’s Textiles Research Institute (VTRI) has recently completed a scale of clothing sizes for Vietnamese people from the ages of 6-55, based on the measurements of 16,000 people in this age group.

VTRI Director Nguyen Van Thong said that designs will be updated annually based on the demands of each group of products such as European-style trousers, shirts, dresses and children’s clothing at different ages.

Recognising this as progress, the Director of the Nguyen Tam Fashion Company, Ngo Thi Bau, says that the State should introduce policies to encourage private businesses to develop materials and new weaving and dying techniques, as they are at the heart of the industry.

In addition, businesses which specialise in market information and have good knowledge of consumers likes and dislikes should link up with designers to produce the right kind of products for Vietnamese consumers, she noted.

In an effort to promote the Vietnamese garments and textiles trademark, several businesses have expanded their distribution networks, especially in foreign markets.

Recently, the Nha Be Garment Joint Stock Company successfully franchised its Mattana brand to an Italian partner, while the Viet Tien Garments Joint Stock Corporation has opened chains of shops in several markets, including Laos and Cambodia .

Vietnam ’s garments sector is targeting an export turnover of 10.5 billion USD in 2010, an increase of 1.4 billion USD against last year./.