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Who's Next takes shine off Pret

Who's Next is taking ground from Paris rival Pret a Porter, as the contemporary women's fashion event increased its pulling power for autumn 07.

Who's Next upped the number of womenswear exhibitors by 25% this season in its Private, Fame and Fresh halls. These compete directly with the brand profile of womenswear show Pret a Porter, particularly its directional Atmosphere section.

Who's Next organiser Sophie Guyot claimed that the show's contemporary womenswear hall, Private, had poached about 30% of Pret a Porter's exhibitors over the past five years. "We're having a great show. We saw visitor numbers increase by about 6% on the first day compared with last season. But I think the number of UK buyers will be flat," she said.

UK agent Palladio, whose brands include Tara Jarmon and See by Chloe, now shows all of its 12 labels at Who's Next. Sales manager Emma Tattersall said: "We used to show a few brands at Atmosphere in Pret a Porter, but they started to move across a few years ago when the show started to lose its edge. However, I'm surprised at how few UK buyers have come to Paris."

Anna Park, owner of London-based independent Anna, was also disappointed by Pret a Porter's Atmosphere section. "I haven't been happy with Atmosphere for the past few seasons and it looks awful this time, so I don't think I'll bother in September," she said. "I'll stick to Who's Next instead. It has grown a lot and offers a good selection."

However, Pret a Porter president Jean-Pierre Moccho said he was unconcerned by competition from Who's Next, and that he would launch a new hall next season. "We are deciding what the new sector will be made up of, but it will fill a gap and be completely new," he said.

He added that visitor numbers were up by 20% on the second day of the show compared with last season, but he anticipated that the number of UK buyers would be down.

Next season, Pret a Porter and Who's Next will take place from September 6.

- See page 28 for a full report from Pret a Porter and Who's Next.

WHAT THE BUYERS SAID ...

- Henrietta King, senior buyer for women's accessories, and Anna Tizard, assistant buyer, Urban Outfitters

"We're at Premiere Classe and Who's Next for two days to expand our existing stock and find fresh lines. It's good because all the brands are under the same roof. For autumn 07 black and metallic bags and oversized bags will be key."

- David Fairthorne, owner, Trapeze in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

"I'm at Pret a Porter looking for both accessories and clothing - interesting lines that we can mix with existing stock. We're definitely here to buy too. This is our fifth show this season, and I think it's more important than ever to travel to shows. Customers are looking for product that no one else stocks."

- Sarah Hanafee, owner, Danielli in Dartmouth, Devon

"I'm desperately trying to find smaller European brands. A lot of our customers recognise the usual brand names, so something new is a must. I'm looking for short-order summer 07 stock as well as lines for autumn 07. So far, I'm impressed by Pret a Porter; it seems bigger and better organised than before."

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