The buying circus at this time of year is stressful for all concerned. The shows provide a wonderfully compact overview of the season's offerings, as well as giving an opportunity for those who have the courage of their convictions to buy as soon as they see it, which saves time later on in London.
I always enjoy my trip to CPD in Dusseldorf. I leave behind the office work, mingle with my counterparts from Europe and get a feel for the business worldwide. I find myself alongside colleagues from across the world, from the Republic of Ireland to Russia, which is a wonderful change from my mundane day-to-day activities.
I also enjoy the lack of responsibility for the stands and the absence of the physical work that is usually involved. All I have to do is get myself there and greet customers. For those three days of a foreign show, you can just get on with the job and forget everything else.
Being relatively unencumbered at a foreign show means I can network with other agents. There is a healthy respect among UK agents - real camaraderie only exists if you are in different sectors of the market or covering different parts of the country. I have met a handful who are the exception to that rule, and one in particular who I am truly grateful to for their help. I know buyers also benefit from the networking and brain-picking opportunities that shows offer.
Personally, doing a UK show is more conducive to meeting the opposition, because it is so easy to talk to your neighbours. In fact, they are they only people I ever talk to - I'm usually nervous that the second I walk off my stand is the second that the elusive customer, who I have been chasing forseasons, will choose to visit.
Stress is my biggest problem at this time of year. I still cannot get used to the fact that in this short space of time I am making the money that will put Christmas 2007 on the table. But how can I complain when buyers have far more than me to cope with? How many times have I heard that a member of staff is leaving just as the buying season approaches? They all seem to want holidays in August. Their shops needs to be staffed, incoming stock dealt with, early customers served and then they have to remember all the colours and fabrics of all the different ranges. I think I will stick with my end of the buying season, thank you very much.
There are also some crazy people who both own a shop and run a wholesale operation. There is that old saying: "If you want something doing, ask a busy person," but I suspect these people with two occupations have no lives to speak of in February and August. Yet perversely, they seem to be the most friendly, with the ability to appreciate both sides of the fashion circus.
- Clare Morgan runs the Clamor Fashion Agency in Wilmslow, Cheshire.