Fashion fairs on the rise again this season
"We even ran out of badges at the entrance!" This weekend in Paris, the Who's Next show organisers had to deal with problems they had not faced in years.
The fashion event at the Porte de Versailles, which brings together five shows from ready-to-wear to lingerie with more than 1,200 brands, attracted a large number of buyers over its three days of events, from Saturday to Monday. "We have a lot of appointments and the stand has been full from the start," observed Chantelle's Renaud Cambuzat on Saturday, referring to the International Lingerie Show. "International visitors are coming back, mainly from Europe, but also from the Middle East and Asia". A dynamic trend also perceived by the brands and the Interfilière trade show.
At Who's Next, exhibitors particularly appreciated this season's scenography that welcomed visitors with a colourful reception hall and a clear central axis, which indicated the different areas of the show. By Saturday, exhibitors were already seeing good numbers. "We had a good attendance during the first day," explained Aurélia Fusciardi, brand manager of the women's ready-to-wear label Artlove. "The outcome has been positive and we saw a lot of visitors from Spain, Italy and Switzerland." "It's a good start," confirmed Nathalie Wu, co-founder of the leather goods brand Nat&Nin. "I hope it will last over the three days because usually buyers from major accounts don't come on the weekend, so we will have to see how the attendance will be with one less day."
The fear was shared by many of the brands, as the change from four to three days raised questions about the event's ability to run over the shorter time period. "This was the main question for us," explained Camille Georgel, marketing director of Karma Koma on Monday evening. "In the end, we had a better edition over three days than we did over four. We had good contacts to develop our network of agents in Europe." At the end of the three days, Saturday seemed to have a good dynamic, Sunday attracted French retailers as well as Monday, the day buyers from major accounts chose to attend.
Sylvie Sonsino, founder of Bella Jones, hoped that this edition would mark the "real return of the trade fairs" following the "upheavals of previous years", linked to Covid-19, but also the Gilets jaunes protests against the pension reform in 2019. This year's orgnisation suggests an attendance above the January 2020 edition and a massive return of international visitors with many Italians and Spanish but also a return of Japanese buyers.
All the trade fairs of the last few days benefited from a high attendance and an overall positive outcome that has made many brands and the organisers happy.
"With a not very promising economic context and a national strike on the opening day, we could have had a tense show, but not at all. In fact, the opposite happened, with exhibitors being very optimistic from the start", explains Guillaume Prot, director of the international trade fair for decoration, design and lifestyle professionals, Maison & Objet, which ended this Monday January 23 at the Parc des Expositions in Villepinte.
According to the organisers' first estimates, 65,000 visitors came to meet the 2,400 exhibiting brands over five days, compared to 59,000 last September.
Most of the exhibitors we met on Monday, the last day of the show, confirmed this positive dynamic, underlining the presence of international visitors, who according to the organisers represented 47% of the visitors (against 40% in September), notably Italians and Americans. "On Thursday, when there was a strike, there were many people, mainly internationals. The French came in large numbers on Friday," says Isabelle Spiri, director of the French bag brand Hindbag.
The strike against the pension reform was massively followed in France and particularly in Paris. However, the Marais district, which was on the protesters path, hosted a number of brand showrooms and sales agents, as well as the Tranoï and Welcome Edition fairs. The current social situation does not seem to have put buyers off.
"Thursday was a busy day," explains Paul Batista at Welcome Edition, the show that was held at rue de Lappe, in the Bastille district. "Buyers came to their appointments with brands and in the end a lot of people attended the show until Sunday afternoon, the last day."
The selection of over fifty European, Japanese and American brands attracted a visitor base of buyers from independent premium boutiques and international department stores. "The visitor base was made up of good retailers with a lot of international visitors from the US, Scandinavia and a lot of Asians," says Gianni Ordeda, brand manager of the Finnish-born sneaker brand Kahru.
"We had a great return of Japanese exhibitors and visitors. The Americans came back last season. This time it was these customers, who are very appreciated by the brands, but also the South Koreans who were also present. For next season we are expecting the Chinese," smiles Boris Provost, president of the Tranoï show, which was held for the first time at the Amelot garage, between Bastille and République in Paris.
"We had a lot of traffic over the four days of the show and the complementarity with the fashion shows that also took place in the garage brought something really interesting to the dynamics. We attracted twice as many international retailers compared to the last session", analyses the manager.
Paris was clearly the leading destination for international buyers this season. South Koreans and Japanese as well as Americans came in large numbers to discover what the exhibiting men's and women's brands had to offer, at the Pavillon Vendôme, a stone's throw from the famous Place Vendôme.
Alongside the fashion shows, many of these buyers strolled the streets of the capital to discover the Autumn-Winter 2023/24 collections with a very wide range of positioning. This diversity enabled all the shows to attract professionals eager to make discoveries. Most of the time, however, orders have not yet been signed. It remains for this great week of trade shows to materialise in the coming weeks.
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