As the approach of the new season heralds another round of trade shows, Drapers spoke to buyers from across the fashion landscape to find out who’s going where, and why.
Sam Kershaw, senior buyer for Mr Porter
Next season the team will be visiting Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence, Capsule and Man in Paris and Liberty in New York.
Pitti Immagine Uomo has had a resurgence in the past two years and is now showcasing an eclectic mix of innovative and contemporary brands alongside traditional designers. The clever addition of brands such as Visvim has made a real impact on traffic.
Capsule and Man are great for viewing smaller, niche brands, and are really important, as a large percentage of our contemporary buy takes place there.
Liberty is useful for us to attend for a US perspective, which is a very important part of the Mr Porter business. Before the days of being able to view new brands online at the drop of a hat, trade shows were imperative for buyers who wanted to be the first to get their hands on a new collection.
Today, even though buyers are usually fully aware of upcoming, noteworthy brands surfacing on the global stage, trade shows are still worth visiting to see the product in person and meet the team.
I tend not to attend the trade shows, but visit the showrooms instead. If a brand I’m interested in is showing at a particular show, then I will go and see them at Capsule or Coterie in Paris, for example.
I’m very thorough with my research, and spend a great deal of time working out which brands will sell for us best and work in the boutique. So all visits to trade shows are to see a specific brand. It’s a lot more beneficial for me to visit the brands in their showrooms directly, rather than doing the trade shows. You get to see the brand in a lot more detail, and keep up relationships with the designers.
However, I’m planning on visiting the LA market next season, and I’m really excited by a lot of up-and-coming brands I’ve seen emerging there.
Debra McCann, owner of the Mercantile, east London
Next season we’ll be going to Premium and Seek in Berlin, Man/Woman and Who’s Next in Paris, Jacket Required, Scoop and Pure in London, Revolver and CIFF in Copenhagen. We are always on the lookout for new brands, and the early shows give a good overview of how to allocate budget. I do miss my trips to the US but, until the exchange rate is more sensible to buy in dollars, we’ll be skipping those shows.
On one hand trade shows are worth visiting to get an overview of what is on offer and to see new product, but on the other, there are not many new brands, and a lot of brands are in showrooms in the UK.
Laura Southern, business development manager, Thread
We’ll be checking out Pitti Uomo in Florence, CIFF and Revolver in Copenhagen, and will be in Paris for Man and Capsule. And here in the UK, Jacket Required is definitely on our list.
For us, Pitti is probably the most important, as it gives us a great overview of what’s happening in menswear – from trendsetting to seeing who the new and up-and-coming brands are.
Copenhagen is good for Scandinavian brands, which do really well on Thread, so we’re looking to further build this part of our business.
Paris is a must to see what the premium brands are up to. As Thread continues to grow, it’s likely we’ll go to shows in the US as well. There are a lot of great brands out there. For Thread, trade shows are a great way for us to meet brands and explain to them the innovative way in which we work. It’s important to meet people face-to-face to talk about how we can partner with them and bring their business to a huge new audience. We’ve signed some of our biggest brands at trade shows, some of whom are doing hundreds of thousands of pounds a month in sales with us now, so trade shows have been very important for us.
In addition to the shows, we also look at other avenues that brands are now using to publicise themselves – primarily social media. Generally speaking, though, we still think trade shows are relevant for buyers to get an overview of trends and product – to see what people buzzing over. We certainly take note of these things and feed back to our team of stylists.
We go to Scoop in the UK for womenswear and Liberty Fair, Capsule and Man in New York, and Jacket Required in London for menswear. Rob (Adams, who heads The Hambledon’s menswear department) likes New York for the range of shows on at the same time – it has just the right brand mix and great networking opportunities. The trip’s cost effectiveness is probably debatable but they’re all good shows. Scoop has a great brand mix for us on womenswear, though we could do with another higher end or more directional show. We’ve loved Copenhagen in the past, so that might be worth a revisit and maybe Who’s Next in Paris.
I always love a trade show. It’s so many different things in one space. And we’re pretty decisive, so it’s a quick way to see trends and new brands. Obviously a show gives every buyer access to the same brands so a retailer’s particular take becomes really vital. I do think we try to be alert to new things all the time, so the importance of a show is probably diminishing.
Katie Diment, owner, Katie & Jo
Next season we’ll be going to Scoop in London – it’s the best for upcoming brands. Occasionally we also find exciting brands at Pure as well, like womenswear brand PK Berry last year. We’d love to go back to Paris, but we feel the shows need some new designers there now. French brands sell well with us but we are worried about the euro/sterling exchange rate. However, we don’t think it’s worth visiting Coterie in New York any more, as any new American brands we find often come with high import taxes.
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