Tell us what it’s like to work as an agent!
“I started my agency together with my father, who retired in 1993. The agency business gives great freedom and many interesting contacts, both among customers and suppliers. In addition, travel, which has always been an important part of working as an agent, is something that you really miss during these times.”
How has the textile industry changed since the agency started?
“For me, the industry has changed in several ways both in terms of my focus and geographically within Sweden. I worked almost exclusively with women’s clothing during my first 15 years. The customers, which consisted of women’s brands and retail chains, were mainly located in western Sweden. Places like Svenljunga, Tranemo and Växjö were frequently visited, as well as Gothenburg. Nowadays, the customers mainly are located in Stockholm and clearly fewer in the rest of Sweden. Time pressure is much greater and sometimes it feels as if it is more important to keep deadlines than to get the right products. Material knowledge has in many cases decreased at the same time as the requirements for certifications and origins have increased. The power of the end consumer is constantly increasing, and the environmental conscience plays a greater role. Nevertheless, the price is largely important and something that ultimately determines how much environmental responsibility you are prepared to take.”
You work only with suppliers in Europe, how come?
“My choice of suppliers has deliberately stayed in Europe. Wool fabric, fabric for outerwear, shirt fabrics and technical textiles are today the most important products. Portugal, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands are significant countries for these materials and provide fast deliveries. An argument that will become more important in the future. A greater focus on stock service can already be seen because the time from order to delivery is reduced and no one wants to miss an order. “Just in time” will be even more important in the future, where the trend of nearby production is likely to increase. If the focus on sustainability prevails, one can also believe that the number of garments sold will decrease. Less wear and tear and more quality. ”
What is important to you when choosing which suppliers, you want to work with?
“I see sustainability and durability as arguments also in the relationship with the suppliers. I have collaborated with several of my principals for more than 25 years. At the same time, it is important to look at new materials and solutions that emerge. My policy has always been that service, facts and quick answers are the only thing that motivates the position as an agent, therefore you cannot work with too many suppliers. There is always a balance between a wide range and fast service. I have a small number of suppliers and if someone is to be added, they must be better than the ones I represent today. The problem is not finding suppliers, there is a large selection, but the number of customers is limited.”
Today, the agency works mainly with shirt fabrics and suit-and uniform fabrics. Does the way you work with these materials differ from what it is like to work with other types of textiles?
“In addition to fashion fabrics, I also work with sunscreen fabrics and fabrics for marine users. The market for technical materials is more stable and remains in the Nordic region with development and production. Technical textiles are an important complement to the fashion side.”
What do you do to keep your motivation up during the current pandemic?
“The conditions for an agent in the future will probably be challenging. The regrowth among the fabric agents is, to say the least, limited. If a greater focus is placed on numbers and the service that an agent provides is not included, it will probably be difficult to work as an agent in the future. At the same time, you notice in these corona times that it is complicated to replace the physical meeting with Teams / Zoom in an industry where touch and feel is important. Keeping your spirits and energy up is usually a challenge in November. It is even more difficult with a limited number of customer visits and fewer trips. I mix work and physical activity to be able to endure.”