A group of retailers from across the EU, including Cortefiel Group, Inditex, Levi Strauss & Co, Mango, Next, Nike and VF Corporation have formed a new association to highlight the value of branded clothing companies to the European economy.

Launched this week in Brussels, the European Branded Clothing Alliance (EBCA) will not only underscore the contribution that clothing retailers make to competitiveness and employment, but also engage with policy makers both in Brussels and in the EU member states.

The companies, which together represent around 50 apparel brands and employ over 85,000 people in their European operations, say this is the first time that retail clothing brands in Europe have had such a collective voice.

A spokesperson for the Alliance told just-style today (27 September) that the firms who have joined the group want to put across a very specific message about the contribution of European branded clothing companies, which they feel has not been adequately communicated in Brussels in the past.

"There's a limited understanding of the complexities of the ways these brands operate," he said, "in terms of the number of jobs they have in design, branding and even manufacturing, and their investment in R&D in Europe."

Fair and open trade is also very much on the agenda, particularly when it comes to market access for products entering the EU.

"Retailers need stability and predictability in their supply chains, and that means the EU not imposing arbitrary measures at short notice which can be extremely damaging to companies who need to order their products six to nine months in advance."

He added that the companies are also interested in forging better trading opportunities across the world.

"There are a huge number of trade barriers imposed by the markets they're targeting (India, South East Asia, China etc), be it product specifications or intellectual property violations, that they're deeply concerned about."