The Midlands show played it safe as it finds its place among its London trade show stablemates.
There was a relatively subdued mood at Birmingham trade show Moda this season as speculation continued about its future and footwear exhibitors took stock of the decision to relocate its menswear collections to stablemate Pure London. However, plenty of orders were written and owner ITE Group said it was investing “heavily” in growing and improving the show.
Many of the stands enjoyed steady footfall and Drapers saw a good number of independent retailers browsing the aisles, but overall the halls felt quieter than in previous seasons. More than one exhibitor complained that there are now too many shows in the UK, and with Moda falling late in the season some buyers had already been to Pure, Scoop and possibly even new trade show Harrogate Fashion Week. Yet ITE’s managing director, Julie Driscoll, told Drapers 60% of the visitors to Moda do not visit any other UK trade show.
ITE added Pure London to its portfolio last year, joining Scoop and Jacket Required. Driscoll said the four shows have very different visitor demographics, and this will be more clearly defined from next season onwards.
“Moda is a busy, order-writing show with a very different customer base to Pure,” she said. “We can really see the USP of each event.”
Driscoll emphasised the opportunities to grow Moda and pointed out that Pure has a team dedicated to sourcing new international brands, which will now be working on Moda, too. She also outlined plans to increase the number of footwear brands for the spring 20 edition. This season’s exhibitors will welcome the news, as some thought there had been a decline in the quality of the collections on offer.
In the womenswear hall, the brands largely played it safe with figure-flattering jersey dresses, timeless knitwear, relaxed tailoring and an emphasis on the use of natural fibres. In footwear, sneakers continued to dominate.
Moda’s theme for the autumn 19 edition was “This Is Me”, celebrating inclusivity. The catwalk shows – which had more of a sophisticated feel this season – featured a cross-section of ages, ethnicities and body shapes.
There were more than 1,200 women’s and footwear collections on show in total – see Drapers’ pick of the brands – although it inevitably felt smaller without menswear section Moda Gent, which moved to Pure this season.
Many buyers and exhibitors are still fiercely loyal to Moda, particularly if they do not also attend or show at Pure or Scoop. Driscoll is right: there are ample opportunities here, but the show needs a refresh to keep its retention rate high.
Moda ran on 17-19 February at the NEC in Birmingham.
The mood at Moda
Justin Morgan, managing director at HB Shoes, representing Steptronic
I didn’t come with high expectations, because it is quite expensive and independents aren’t spending too much at the moment, but it’s been surprisingly busy. The brand mix for footwear is definitely not as high quality, though, especially in the back area. The organisers need to decide if they want to make it more branded rather than just wholesale manufacturers. February trading is generally bad every year and buying is becoming more concentrated, so it doesn’t help that Moda is late in the season.
Lynne Kettles, owner of Solo in Mumbles, Swansea
We come to Moda because our shop is in an area where people are older. There seem to be steady, reliable brands here who produce collections every season that you can understand. [Moda] doesn’t mess around. It’s smaller this season, and all the ranges are very safe. We want safe, but with a bit of “something”.
We’re not particularly worried about Brexit because it is going to be the same for everybody. The bigger problem is that the high street is shrinking.
Lisa Speet, sales and marketing director, Carol C Collections
It was a bit of a quiet start [on Sunday], but it’s bustling now and it’s been pretty positive so far. The show feels smaller and there are a lot of rumours going around about [the future of Moda]. There are too many shows in the UK and it’s expensive [to show at them all]. We’re seeing the same customers at the same shows – do we need to be at each of them? But we’ve had customers buying from us today so Moda still has its place.
Adele Black, creative director, Latte Clothing
It has been a good morning. We’ve opened a few new accounts. People are cautious and, although it’s not affecting us, you can sense the nervousness in the market. There are too many exhibitions in the UK – our customers have been at Pure, Moda and Harrogate. It could be condensed into one or two shows, everything under one roof. Otherwise business is getting diluted.
Adam Shaw, account manager – UK north and Northern Ireland, GLD Group, representing Superga
The first day has been terrible. It’s definitely been our worst one yet but we weren’t positive coming into it. We normally don’t tend to do as well [for the autumn season] but I don’t know why it’s been so bad. Perhaps people are being cautious. I’ve only done about £500 of orders today compared with £10,000 last year.
Yathukulan Kanagaratnam, business development manager, City Goddess
Normally Sunday is busy for us and that has been the case this year. About 40% have been returning customers and, of those that have come on the stand, I would say that 98% of them place orders. It’s been a bit quieter this year it is worth being here because of the sales conversion rate. Boutiques come here knowing what they want.
Ulrik Godske, owner, Godske Group
We started at 9.30am and we haven’t stopped since. My stand has been rammed, but I haven’t been out in the rest of the hall. It’s on a par with last year, if not better. People are worried about Brexit, but our orders are up.
Tobias Mackie, key account manager for Sebago, GLD Group
The move of menswear to Pure has definitely had a knock-on effect to us as a predominantly men’s footwear brand. It’s been quiet, and not as busy as previous years so it will be interesting to see if it picks up on days two and three. It’s the big regional accounts that we come here for but we’ll have to assess our numbers and overheads to properly consider whether we come back.
Daniel Gyves, wholesale manager UK and Ireland, Geox
It’s been a really good morning buys, both tables have been full for us especially with customers from the West Midlands area. We’ve also seen a lot of Irish customers and some from North Wales. The move of menswear to Pure has been less of an issue for us because we send out invites letting people know we’re here.
Caron Gardner, launching a new boutique in Manchester
As a potential new boutique owner it’s been really interesting and has given me the opportunity to do a lot of networking. It’s very inspirational and there is a good mixture of brands. We’ve been to all the shows to do our research but this has been good for regional brands.
Lynda Hammant, UK wholesale manager, Hope Fashion
We’ve had lots of positive comments, and lots of people on the stand – all independents. This is the only show we’re at. We’re an emerging brand and Pure is so big, we might get lost. Also we have a showroom [buyers near London] could visit. [Moda] taps into the north-of-Watford crowd.