SEVILLE, Spain — Despite the harsh economy, southern Spain’s regional government is out to boost its fashion profile in such key markets as Russia, Mexico and, in particular, the U.S., according to Extenda, Andalusia’s trade agency and export arm.

This story first appeared in the November 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The area’s budget for worldwide fashion promotion of apparel is only roughly 500,000 euros, or $638,850 at current exchange rates, confirmed Michael Wieting, director of Extenda’s New York office. “The budget is negotiable,” he added. “If the project proves worthwhile, we’ll do our best — and better.”

Part of the heightened-exposure plan, Wieting said, included a recent trunk show of Andalusian fashion at three independent Manhattan stores.

In an effort to reach industry leaders, Extenda brought over a group of importers, agents and journalists from the U.S., Mexico, the U.K., France, Belgium and Russia for the fourth edition of Andalucía de Moda. Forty-five designers and manufacturers of women’s and children’s wear and leather goods presented capsule collections during the five-day event, held Nov. 4 to 8 in the stately Royal Salon of Seville’s Hotel Alfonso XIII.

Designers went down an eclectic path for spring, mixing flights of fancy, a folksy edge and endless ruffles, traditional in the region, with simple cotton jersey dresses, baby-doll and Empire styles, smock tops, harem pants and silky separates, jumpsuits, cocktail dresses, floor-length chiffons and bridalwear.

One of the most developed brands was Dal Bat, a Granada, Spain-based label that sells to 150 multibrand stores on the domestic market as well as to stores in France, Japan, Lebanon and Kuwait. Designed by Pilar Torrecillas Jiménez, the line featured a series of white, liquidy dresses and pants, nautical separates and a black poufed-skirt party number in stiff treated cotton and jersey, which wholesales for 230 euros, or $293.

With two stores in Seville and several domestic sales points, Fernando Claro showed a strong-shouldered tuxedo jacket and exposed shoulder pads in general. The Seville-based designer worked allover sequins into a tank top, romper and jumpsuit. Wholesale prices range from 145 to 375 euros, or $185 to $478.

Strena showed sweet floral-print sundresses and Pol Nuñez sent out high-rise pants and a minidress in black and cream, textured fabrics and flamenco references including a second-skin lace and tulle gown with a train.

Retailer Maria Krishna Arango, head buyer for Gabriella Arango Couture in Coral Gables, Fla., said she was picking up a few bridal pieces to “internationalize” her shop’s product mix.

According to Beth Sobol, executive producer of Miami Fashion Week, “You have to do some digging, but I’ve identified a group of about six designers that will work. They’ll make a nice showcase for the March edition,” she said.

Andalusian fashion exports for 2007 reached 354.6 million euros, or $455 million. The main markets were Italy, France, Portugal and Morocco, with Russia a strong emerging market.

Extenda’s Wieting said the U.S. is in the dark about southern Spain’s potential. “The U.S. doesn’t know Andalusia yet. There’s more here than bulls and flamenco, a lot more. We’re trying to promote fashion, culture and the Spanish language. There are 45 million Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.,” he said. “In 2050, that figure is expected to reach 140 million.”

In addition to the runway shows, Extenda organized a visit to the Joyacor jewelry trade fair, which ran from Nov. 6 to 10 in Córdoba’s Parque Joyero, less than an hour by train from Seville. About 100 local vendors exhibited vintage designs replicating Art Deco, lightweight gold pieces and black stones. Thirty percent of Córdoba’s population depends on the jewelry industry, a spokesman said.

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