The clothing business in Lebanon is booming due to renewed political progress which have allowed the economy to thrive, which in turn has provided Lebanese consumers with an increase in disposable income. This disposable income can be spent on what might otherwise be considered the luxuries of life, such as apparel. Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was once known as the Paris of the Middle East, due to a population that enjoyed a lifestyle of cultural sophistication. The Lebanese culture places special emphasis on attire, since traditionally a person’s form of dress indicated his or her status in society. In addition, Lebanon is a highly culturally and political diverse society, so clothing is used to indicate one’s religious and political affiliation.
The clothing business in Lebanon is based on two major categories.
Trade. Because Lebanon is situated east of the Mediterranean and borders Syria, it is a major source of entry of clothing to the Middle East. Lebanese apparel importers supply wholesale merchandise to domestic retail accounts and to retail outlets throughout the Middle East. Many countries that do not enjoy direct trade channels with each other use Lebanese business people as middle men. Another advantage that Lebanon enjoys is its religious diversity, which enables its business people to move with ease when doing business in the Middle East, where religious affiliation can be an important factor.
Domestic clothing buyers. Lebanese citizens enjoy dressing well, and depending on their affiliation will either wear Western clothing or more traditional Middle Eastern outfits. Jeans, dress slacks, and dress pants are popular items among the male population.
Dress wear for women is based on their religious and cultural affiliation, with some women wearing the traditional Burka while other women prefer to dress in European tailored fashions. The majority of the population is either Christian, Druze, or Moslem, and will wear apparel according to their religious sensitivities. Because of the terrain, and the location of Lebanon, its winter is cold enough for snow, and its summer can be quite hot, requiring winter apparel such as jackets and coats, and shorts and t-shirts for the hotter months. The average Lebanese citizen earns $15,000 a year, although this figure can be substantially higher in Beirut, where many international corporations, banks, and importers are located.
Preferences for Western brands are prevalent among the 35 and under age group, but their buying power can be limited by their economic resources. Consumers in the 35 and over category have a preference for more elegant wear such as business suits and social dresses. Most city dwellers,who on average earn more than their coastal and southern peers, will buy the same brand names that are featured in American and European shopping malls. There are also renowned Lebanese designers such as Sam Hourani and Nidal Zihar who enjoy a strong following.
Clothing is sold to consumers from independent shops such as Marina Rinaldi and Guisso Haute Couture, and from large Middle East chains such as Azadea and Eternity Fashions. One benefit of Lebanon’s highly developed financial system is that consumers can take advantage of online shopping and payment platforms such as credit cards, debit cards, and direct electronic payments.