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A fair should not be a Jack of all trade shows

Last week we ran a poll (at Drapersonline.com) asking whether you think there are too many trade shows.

It seems you think there are, with 70% answering in the affirmative. It’s a tricky dilemma for buyers and indies – how to retain the point of difference by searching out new brands without bankrupting your business by being always on the road?

We were in Berlin during the shows and it struck me just how vast the offer is and how daunting it can be to get round to see everything if your reason for being there is more about new brand-finding and less about maintaining relationships with existing ones. There are 600-odd labels at Bread & Butter, let alone those at Premium, Seek, Bright, Capsule and beyond. Yes, I appreciate there isn’t always a great deal of overlap of those looking around the Sport & Street section of B&B with those taking in the more upmarket womenswear brands at Premium, but to find the sparkly new gems sometimes you have to get around as much as you can.

Multiply Berlin out to the international stage and over a whole season and that’s a lot of frequent flyer miles and footwear that needs reheeling. So what can the industry do to help? Well, two things actually. First is edit. No one wants to have to kiss a thousand frogs before finding their prince so to my mind European shows would be better served being a master of one sector rather than a Jack of all trade shows, which would allow buyers to better plan their visits. Seek in Berlin is good at this.

Second would be for the UK shows to step up their game, bringing more from the Continent here. Some shows have already made a good start towards this and the more they broaden their horizons the more international travel to trade shows is negated. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out in the coming seasons but rest assured Drapers will be checking in to keep you in the loop.

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