• A new platform has been launched to help Chinese buyers build relationships with menswear brands in the UK.
  • Developed by the UK's Department for International Trade (DIT) and global software consultancy ThoughtWorks, the 'Great British Fashion Directory' platform operates on Chinese social media app WeChat.
  • Two months post-launch, the directory includes nearly 60 leading British menswear brands.

British fashion could get a boost thanks to a new platform that aims to help Chinese buyers build relationships with menswear brands in the UK and streamline processes.

The UK's Department for International Trade (DIT) recently partnered with global software consultancy ThoughtWorks to design and deliver the 'Great British Fashion Directory' platform on Chinese social media app WeChat.

With total fashion sales in China expected to treble by 2020 at an estimated GBP290bn (US$404.88bn), DIT wanted to explore how it might help Chinese retail buyers discover new brands in Britain.

Within eight weeks ThoughtWorks developed the platform, which allows Chinese buyers to research British brands through brand pages in Chinese and run a filtered search according to their key buying criteria. The aim is to help Chinese buyers build new relationships with British menswear fashion brands and streamline the process should they want to buy their collections.

Two months post-launch, the directory includes nearly 60 leading British menswear brands, attracting six times more users than expected to engage with the platform.

Buyers that apply to be verified by DIT can contact and book appointments with brands directly, and British brands can prepare for appointments by viewing profiles of interested Chinese buyers in English, with the comfort of knowing the buyers have already gone through an initial verification process.

"The launch marks an important step in digitising the UK-China fashion connection," DIT and ThoughtWorks say. "While the initial focus is on leveraging the platform for British menswear brands, DIT will look to widen the reach of the WeChat mini programme to additional fashion categories in the near future."

Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Fairhead, said of the new platform: "By making fashion goods easily accessible on apps like WeChat, hundreds of millions of consumers in China can make the most of global demand and buy British.

"Exports of fashion goods grew 6% last year and, as an international economic department, we are now expanding support for UK designers through the Exporting is GREAT campaign and our network of international advisers."

Click here to access the new platform.