Amid developments in the menswear trade show scene, Just Around the Corner is updating its approach and heading for new challenges.
After four low-key seasons based in agency Just’s showroom in east London, autumn 20 brought a marked development for “mini-trade show” Just Around the Corner, which ran on 21-24 January.
In addition to its original home at The Rag Factory, a second venue was introduced for autumn 20: the nearby Toynbee Hall. It housed a selection of high-end brands from Just’s premium agency Occum, such as Nigel Cabourn, Johnny Hoxton and Farnol.
In total, 21 brands showed across the two venues, including many from the Just stable, such as Nicce, Fila and Hi-Tec. Managing director Juls Dawson said the split was roughly half agency brands and half external for autumn 20, but, when walking through the rooms, the Just brands seemed to dominate.
“We ran out of space for brands at The Rag Factory, and we fell in love with Toynbee Hall as a venue,” explained Dawson. “We had a waiting list for this season, and we’ve already had enquiries for next season [spring 21].”
The Rag Factory location retained the sense of conviviality and friendliness that has characterised previous seasons and is one of the mini-trade show’s strengths – there was a buzz and warmth that gave the impression that business was being done for all brands. A hotpot vendor, complimentary teas and coffees, and a charming therapy dog called Max added to the welcoming atmosphere.
While Toynbee Hall’s grandeur made it an appropriate setting for premium names, and those showing at the venue were satisfied with the range of appointments made through the show, the hall was deserted when Drapers visited.
It may have been “just around the corner” from The Rag Factory, but it is also a multi-purpose community events space. There were several other events happening in the centre at the same time as Just Around the Corner, and finding the correct room was a bit of a challenge. In future, the link between the two venues will need to be made clearer to entice visitors from one space to the next and ensure that the atmosphere across both locations is just as strong.
Next season, Dawson plans to spread premium and mainstream brands across the two venues to increase capacity, and hopes to expand further within Toynbee Hall. He is also in the process of introducing a consumer-facing element to the show – for spring 21 he proposes to invite exhibitors to stay on and host a sample Sale. He says it is a good way for the brands and agency to gain exposure, as well as make money.
With a relatively limited brand selection, Just Around the Corner is no competitor to larger-scale trade shows. However, as the traditional trade show format continues to be called into question, Dawson’s ideas represent an appealing alternative – a friendly, smaller-scale location with a curated brand mix.
Of course, Just Around the Corner is so named because of its proximity to Hyve Group-owned menswear trade show Jacket Required, which has until now taken place in the Truman Brewery. And Just Around the Corner has undoubtedly benefitted from the halo effect of Jacket, which, despite its dwindling scale and footfall, still drew buyers to east London for its autumn 20 edition on 22-23 January.
But the impact of Jacket’s impending move to the Saatchi Gallery on Chelsea’s King’s Road for spring 21 remains unclear.
Dawson appeared unfazed by the news, and said: “Just Around the Corner will be just around the corner from its other location [instead].”
Indeed, some brands exhibiting at Jacket this season expressed a desire to remain in the area, so it is possible they will seek to join the Just Around the Corner roster. If that proves to be the case, a potential obstacle could turn into opportunity for the relatively boutique show.