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Editor's Comment: Cost efficiencies take top priority in troubled times

The traditional trade show format has been in a state of flux for several seasons now, and the evolution is continuing with the emergence of some new, smaller events. 

Last week Drapers visited two of these: Harrogate Fashion Week and Just Around the Corner in London. These new shows offer cheaper, more intimate alternatives for brands to show in the UK, and bring into question what today’s trade shows should look like to be most effective for buyers and brands alike.

This is not a new conundrum – during the autumn 16 season, the Drapers team asked exhibitors and buyers if they believed trade shows were still relevant. Although the overwhelming response was yes, brands highlighted a decline in the return on investment from exhibiting as more buyers opted to write orders in showrooms.

In today’s challenging market, cost efficiencies are more important than ever. Brands are scrutinising their budgets, so inevitably the cheaper trade show formats are starting to gain some traction. This could generate some much-needed competition to Moda, Scoop, Pure London and Jacket Required, all of which are owned by ITE Group.

Although I still believe there is a place for the big shows, where buyers and brands can network and do business under one roof, it does no harm to the industry to offer alternatives in terms of location, size and cost. Competition drives any market. New launches keep trade show organisers on their toes and ensure they are offering the best experience with the greatest return for a reasonable cost.

Alongside trade show costs, distribution channels have also been a topic of debate this week as popular shapewear brand Spanx exits some of its independent stockists. It is further evidence that brands are keeping their retail and wholesale strategies under close review.

Spanx may have reached the conclusion that it could achieve a greater margin through increasing its direct-to-consumer retail proposition. However, it is important not to forget the value good independents can offer to a brand in terms of customer reach and engagement. Brands must balance this with the drive to improve their bottom line. 

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