The autumn 15 edition of Who’s Next in Paris got off to a steady start today, but many exhibitors were worried about the impact of recent events in the city on international trading over the four-day event.
In the first few hours at Porte de Versailles, where Who’s Next has been held for 20 years, only a handful of stands were busy.
Some had anticipated a slow morning, such as Flemming Jensen, sales director of womenswear brand Ichi, which is launching its debut footwear and accessories line at the show. He told Drapers it was not unusual for the Saturday and Sunday to be busier before slowing down again on the final day, which this season falls on January 26.
“We’re not worried about the number of people at the moment. We haven’t seen many international buyers, though 99% of our UK accounts are smaller independents,” he said, giving Drapers Independents Awards 2014 finalist Caramel Clothing as an example.
But others were concerned that the level of visitors from outside of France could remain low compared to previous seasons, following the recent attacks in Paris, which started with shootings at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Rémy Arnaud of contemporary womenswear brand Rizal, which is stocked in Harrods, said: “I am anxious about recent events. I believe it will deflect international trade away.”
This was echoed by Franck Ellia, co-owner and designer of womenswear brand Majestic Features: “We’ve seen some [buyers] from Spain and Japan, but others are probably keeping away because it has only been two weeks.”
Sales manager at Danish brand Samsoe Samsoe, Andy Sorensen, said he was surprised people were avoiding Paris, but said locals had told him they had seen fewer people in Paris since the attacks.
The majority of buyers spotted in the early stages of the show came from Spain, Japan and Tokyo, as well as from France.
Among the few UK buyers in attendance was Amanda Sullivan, owner of Brighton and Aberdeen-based independent womenswear boutique Sirene. She told Drapers her buying strategy has changed following last year’s warm autumn weather. “I’m not touching mohair,” she explained. “I did last year and it all ended up in the sale. I’m looking for something new, particularly in accessories. It’s best to come in the winter as that’s when you find the most stuff you haven’t seen before.”
A number of talks are taking place alongside the show covering topics such as opening a store, merchandising concepts and launching a fashion brand.