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Debates heat up first winter Fashion SVP

The first winter edition of Fashion SVP was a slow but steady affair.

Fashion svp1652

Fashion svp1652

It was a sedate couple of days at the first winter edition of sourcing show Fashion SVP, although exhibitors praised the turnout from big high street retailers including Marks & Spencer, and etailers such as Shop Direct and Asos.

Exhibitors at the show, which ran from 16-17 November at London’s Kensington Olympia, said there were quiet periods throughout the event. However, business was being done at the show, which aims to bring suppliers and retailers together under one roof.

“This is our second time at the show and we come here to meet the bigger brands,” said Moshin Sheikh, director of family-run cashmere supplier Le Cashmere.

“The last time we were here, we met people from Asos and this time we’ve seen Ted Baker and some of our existing partners, like LK Bennett. You do see the big names here and it’s a good place to come and meet people face-to-face.”

Vita Jasaité, export manager at Lithuanian manufacturer Introstyle, added: “We had a busier day on the first day of the show, and we did see some new businesses. There has been a lot of smaller start-ups, new brands and new designers and although it’s interesting to meet them, we’re looking for the bigger brands.”

Organiser Buzz Carter said the number of visitors was up 14% from the June edition of the show. He added that the November edition worked with government export association Enterprise Mauritius to bring 12 manufacturers from the island to the UK. 

“Mauritian suppliers were a welcome addition to the show because they can compete on price and offer better quality than countries like China, Vietnam or Cambodia. It’s a tiny place but with a significant manufacturing industry that’s experienced and understands the British market.”

Carter added that the show had upped the number of ethical suppliers and seminars on sustainable fashion on offer at the show to reflect increasing demand from brands and retailers.

“It’s a topic that everyone has been talking about for years but it’s very much on the agenda now,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure on the high street, which is starting to be driven from the ground up by consumers. Retailers are coming under real pressure to square the circle of what makes commercial sense with moral obligations.”

There were a series of well-attended seminars on the issues facing the sourcing world throughout Fashion SVP. Ethical Fashion Forum chairman Harold Tillman spoke about the ethical challenges facing the industry, while another highlight was a heated panel debate on whether Brexit will bring new opportunities to suppliers and retailers alike.

“Retailers are going to struggle with higher prices and lower demand,” said Michael Wolff, former managing director of supplier the Fielding Group. “However, change always brings opportunities and Brexit could lead to increased demand for UK manufacturing and brands that export their product around the world.”

Mood of the show 

Mukesh Desai, head of UK sales, Firemount UK

The show has been a little quiet for us. We came to the show to see important customers and we have seen some good people here, like Shop Direct. We’re a denim specialist, so more specific shows like Première Vision Denim tend to work better for us.

Jorge Moreira, designer, Tetriberica

It’s our first time at the show – it was recommended to us because we’re trying to break into the English market. It’s been useful and we’ve seen people from some bigger brands, like Paul Smith.

Paulo Barros, sales manager, Triwool

It’s been quiet and we haven’t had many visitors. We came looking for British brands but it’s very hard for new suppliers to get a foothold in the UK market. It’s very bureaucratic and brands here prefer to work with people they already know. The Spanish market, for example, is much more open to work with.

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