Trade shows are a great platform to build new connections in the fashion industry
One of the most valuable benefits of attending a trade show is the unparalleled networking opportunity it provides to small businesses and newcomers to the fashion industry. While the exposure can help the business in reaching out to a whole new client base, building new connections may further broaden business prospects. Attending trade shows allows designers and clothing producers to save time and energy in arranging separate meetings with different clients and enables them to recognize their strategic positioning in the industry.
Keeping abreast with Industry Trends
The fashion industry is all about evolution and changing trends, and major trade shows like the Accessories the Show, Magic Show and New York Fashion Week maintain their reputation as being trendsetters in the fashion arena. From introducing innovative manufacturing technologies to new cuts, textures and fabric mixes, trade shows are the virtual launch pads of new fashion trends and therefore, the ideal platform to understand the ebb and flow of the industry.
The perfect opportunity to get an idea of your competitor’s activities
Whether you are an independent fashion designer, or run an apparel manufacturing company, participating in a trade show will not only allow you to bring your products into the spotlight, but also offer you an opportunity to have a look at your competitors’ future product line. This can be highly advantageous to your business as it will give you a better idea of what your product will be competing against, how effective your promotional campaigns need to be or the strategies that can earn you a competitive advantage in the industry.
Trade shows are a cost-effective way to promote your business
What could be better than exhibiting your latest fashion apparel range to a plethora of high-profile fashion aficionados gathered under one roof? Trade shows act as a powerful magnet to many fashion powerhouses and potential clients, and therefore, present a cost-effective means of business marketing. Businesses keep an eye out on major trade shows like the fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan to discover budding talents and making new deals, which makes it worthwhile to be a part of such shows.
Keeping Your Name Alive in the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry is inundated with promising designers and apparel producers, and chances are, that your brand may be easily forgotten if you decide on a no-show. To maintain your mark in the industry, and within your target market, it is essential that you get your brand noticed by your continued presence and new offerings at major trade shows.
Exhibitors and visitors
Fashion brands are the fairs’ exhibitors. The stands on the exhibition floor feature representatives, such as the brands’ sales teams or commercial agents. They present their brands’ new collections for the coming season - often for the first time.
Trade fair visitors are therefore mainly retailers, fashion shop owners, and buyers from large department stores. But other fashion professionals such as trend watchers, and journalists also
What are the benefits of attending trade shows?
Main reasons retailers attend: Purchasing
Traditionally, orders are written at trade shows. Nowadays, this is done increasingly less on the show floor, and more often by appointment during the new buying/selling season, for example in the fashion brand's showroom or or in the retailer's shop
Discovering [new] fashion brands
Staying in the loop and hearing/seeing what is going on from other industry professionals. The relevance and usefulness of fashion trade shows are sometimes questioned, yet they remain one of the most important touch points in the fashion industry
Exhibiting at a trade fair offers an excellent opportunity for brands to test the response and get feedback on their designs and/or design direction from retailers, who are in direct contact with the end customer.
Trade fair participation naturally comes at a price. Fashion brands need to rent a stand from the trade fair organizer. Exactly how much this costs is often not disclosed by the organizations. But the investment, sometimes depending on the stand size (or the number of square meters a fashion brand rents on the trade show floor), is usually thousands of euros at a reputable fashion trade show.
A trade fair visit is less expensive, costing a few tens of euros per person. Usually it is only fashion industry professionals who attend these events.
Well-known fashion trade fairs
Trade fairs Pure London and Moda, both operated by Hyve Group, are two of the largest fashion and accessories trade shows in the UK. They both take place twice a year: Pure London in the English capital, and Moda in Birmingham. Other leading European trade shows include Who's Next in France, Pitti Uomo in Italy, CIFF in Denmark, and Modefabriek in the Netherlands. All these trade fairs focus mainly on women’s and men's fashion in the middle and mid-high segments.
There are also very specialised trade fairs, focused on a particular segment or niche. There is the denim trade fair, Kingpins, for example, or fairs dedicated exclusively to lingerie and swimwear, such as LingeriePro in Belgium (Kortrijk). There are menswear trade fairs (the best known is perhaps Pitti Uomo in Florence). Increasingly, we are also seeing trade fairs that focus exclusively on more sustainable fashion, such as Innatex in Germany. There are also yarn fairs for fabric manufacturers, and fabric fairs for clothing manufacturers.
Fabric trade shows
At fabric fairs, fabric manufacturers present their latest materials. Fabric manufacturer Workingmenblues (WMB) is a regular exhibitor at Première Vision in Paris, which is one of the best-known fabric fairs in Europe.
Then the garment manufacturer starts buying large quantities of fabric from fabric manufacturers for their most sought-after garments based on the sales during the fair.
Timing of fashion trade shows
When is the fashion trade fair season?
Fashion trade shows kick off the new season. Traditionally, there have been two seasons in the fashion industry: spring/summer and autumn/winter. Accordingly, fashion trade shows also tend to have two editions, a summer edition and a winter edition.
The trade fair season takes place in January/February (the winter edition) and July/August (the summer edition). After the fairs, the new selling season for fashion brands and the new buying season for retailers start.
Alternatives to exhibiting at a trade fair
Not all fashion brands exhibit at a fashion trade fair. Other alternative events often take place at the same time.
In showrooms, for example, 'open door days' are organised. A showroom, whether owned by a fashion brand or a trade agent, is a business space used for displaying clothes. During open doors days, retailers and buyers can drop by, by appointment or not.
Alternatively, some brands might opt to showcase their collections in smaller get-togethers, for example over a dinner.
There are several reasons why a brand might opt for an alternative to attending a trade fair. They might consider other alternatives more intimate, or simply to cut cots.