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Trade shows: does the early bird to the seasonal schedule really catch the worm?

During our hop across the Channel to womenswear exhibition Who’s Next, the Drapers team spoke to buyers, brand managers and sales guys alike, all of whom nodded to how tricky the timing of the show was for them.

Where London Collections: Men seemingly got the jump on the rest of the menswear show season when it launched in 2012, preceding the long-standing Pitti Uomo by a week, for Who’s Next going out on a limb doesn’t look like it’s working out quite as much.

Buyers had an issue with ill-prepared brands - price lists weren’t fully finalised when the doors opened, so orders couldn’t be written. Meanwhile brands bemoaned the perceived lack of footfall at the show, which perhaps is a direct consequence of how early the dateline is in relation to the rest of the womenswear show calendar. Many felt Who’s Next was too long at four days, citing Pitti Uomo and Bread & Butter as big shows that are more than long enough at three days.

In the relentless pursuit of the new and the eagerness to bring the freshest fashion to the market first, are we just getting ahead of ourselves? If ever there was a season to show how out of sync some parts of the fashion industry are with the ‘real world’, it was this summer. Flimsy tops, lightweight dresses and summery shorts dropped into store in the early months of the year, far in advance of when the warmer weather usually kicks in and even more premature considering it took until last week for the sun to get his hat on properly, as Marc Bolland flagged up at the recent Marks & Spencer AGM. With outerwear coming through strongly in both last week’s Menswear Special and this week’s womenswear extravaganza, isn’t it about time we reconfigured when our seasons are? The bird can be as early as he likes, but if there’s no worm to catch, he returns home hungry.


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