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'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will'

In an internet fuelled society, retailers are having to rethink ways of creating an authentic experience for their customers, whilst attempting to match online sales. With the rise of technologies, such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and mixed sensory experiences as well as the launch of superfast 5G internet by 2020 - the question is no longer if the retail industry will see disruption, but when.

Future trends in retail stores was one of the key discussion points at this weekend’s Modefabriek, the largest fashion trade fair in The Netherlands. Exploring these ideas at MF talks were industry specialists Richard Lamb, trend watcher and futurologist and Ronny De Vylder, a creative visualizer and trend spotter in cities across the world.

FashionUnited has rounded up three main takeaways, highlighting the disruptive areas of the fashion retail industry and what the future may hold.

'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will'

1. Using technology to create an authentic experience

New store concepts using the latest technologies such as Amazon’s ’No Line, No Checkout’ Go store. are currently in the pipeline. Using an app that tracks your purchases, customers will be able to pay using their Amazon accounts upon leaving the store, without ever having to pass through a checkout point. Experts like Richard Lamb are contemplating the future of concepts like this - asking will it work for consumers who prefer human interaction? There are often numerous technological issues which come with implementing new electronic systems as they struggle to imitate the exact job of a human. For example, Amazon is postponing the opening of it’s Amazon Go store, because the technology designed to replace employees at the checkout is not working properly yet.

Another advance in retail technology sees machines being used in stores that can identify shopping items when they are placed on the machine (effectively a table), according to Lamb. These machines let customers learn more about the item, complete a purchase and even preview an outfit on their own body. Some even have dressing rooms which appear from the ceiling with just a click of a button - effectively creating an authentic shopping experience for the customer. These machines are adding value for the customer, but are usually accompanied by an in-store employee which seems to be a much more logical step in adopting new technologies in stores.

'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will'

Lamb believes that personalised communication could be the way to consumers hearts. This is evident in the rise of retailers and brands tapping into social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. By offering customer recommendations and personalised information in response to consumer's locations and other shopping habits, retailers can use data gained online to encourage customers to buy more items in store. However retailers are warned they should approach this method with caution, as the technology could be seen as intrusive to customers as oppose to helpful.

Despite skeptics believing that brick-and-mortar stores may eventually become obsolete, replaced by their online alternatives, they neglect to mention that shopping remains a form of entertainment - a fun experience that creates memories - something that cannot always be fulfilled online. The question is how do retailers combine the two to create a seamless retail experience for customers. Can the rise of artificial intelligence in the form of AI chatbots and sales assistants really create an authentic experience?

'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will'

2. "Technology and automation will never fully take over the retail industry"

However, retailers should not be overly dependent on technology when it comes to customer service, as there are certain areas which cannot be replicated using technology alone. Take for example leading department store Isetan in Japan. During his talk De Vylder praises this premium department for its unparalleled customer service. Funeral services, sleep advisors, shoe counsellors and kimono consultants are just some of the specialist services offered by Isetan. This is the perfect example of a brick-and-mortar store using its expertise to reach its full potential for customer service and experience, without overly depending on technology.

Despite the amount of retail innovations, Lamb confirmed that “technology and automation will never fully take over the retail industry.” In addition not every retailer has the opportunity to implement new systems or the desire to.

'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will'

3. Use of technology is not desirable for all stores and their customers

Many retailers and brands are not interested in adding new technologies in stores and believe that a more traditional approach is needed in order to gain customer satisfaction. The reverse is also true as there is a number of consumers who prefer human interaction to fulfill their in-store experience over technological advancements, “There are people from each generation that ‘see through’ the use of digital - such as an automated chatbot on a website - for want of authentic attention,” added Lamb. In particular those from an older generation, such as the Baby-Boomers, as they tend to be more unaware of technological advancements and would rather not see changes made to their favoured stores.

However, retailers who do not succumb to technological pressures and make the needed changes could be left behind in a shifting industry. With huge retail players like Amazon taking the majority of the market, only specialist retailers will be left with a place in the industry. Lamb believes that only brick and mortar store to remain profitable in the future is the concept store - one that offers a unique experience to customers and a reason to visit. Whether that be a brick-and-mortar or virtual concept store.

Photos FashionUnited

'The concept of shopping will never change - but the way we shop will' The trade fair season kicked off. During the month of July FashionUnited will focus on trade shows. For all reads on tradefairs, click here.
Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

REVIEW Sunday saw the opening of the Modefabriek in Amsterdam, a two-day tradeshow housing a mix of mostly denim and casualwear brands at the RAI exhibition centre.

Unlike the scenes at Pitti, where a ‘see and be seen’ atmosphere reigns, the vibe at Modefabriek is more relaxed. Perhaps because the show opens early Sunday morning – there were plenty of baristas serving espressos to kickstart the crowd– and the tropical weather outside brought a tangible boost to the spirit.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

The first brand to catch my attention is Majem, a new rainwear brand designed in Amsterdam and manufactured in China from recycled polyester. They exhibit as part of the Curated Store by HTNK, which describes itself as platform for cutting edge designers. The soft pink mac version is a stand-out, and co-founder Anita tells me the brand picked up several stockists at their first tradeshow outing. I tell her the black coat reminds me of Darth Vader, but the navy trench looks like a surefire bestseller, a new colourway introduced for SS18.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

There is a strong selection of international brands

I wander the aisles and am somewhat surprised to see so many international brands, including Champion, Rains, Colmar, Helly Hansen, Lui Jo, Repetto and Pierre Cardin, yet the show space is filled with an adhoc selection of companies, with womenswear appearing to be the biggest share. Of these, there were plenty of affordable fashion brands that likely appeal to the Dutch stores that don’t go abroad to buy collections.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

I stop for a chat with Leonie from the mobile factory Spijkerbrij, who is sat behind a sewing machine and a pile of vintage denim fabric. She tells me there is a 20 percent surplus of unused denim in The Netherlands and that customers can easily recycle their old jeans into new products. She travels the country with her business partner Lois, where together they show the process of upcycling denim.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

At Armedangels, an eco-fashion brand showcasing in the same space, their dedication to sustainability is boldly shown in big letters above their stand: "We work in the second dirtiest industry in the world." Armedangels aims to produce clothes using only organic materials and sustainable processes.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

Next up a curated set of mannequins catch my eye at Van Gils. A DJ in the corner is spinning fine tunes and two branded Smeg fridges on either side are filled with drinks and bubbles. Van Gils’ CEO Harry van der Zee tells me being a Dutch heritage brand exhibiting at a Dutch show is important. Modefabriek represents an opportunity to showcase the brand’s direction as well as see clients and other industry notables. Even if the fair isn’t the place where orders get written per se.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

Tradeshows are no longer a platform for just sales

And that is one of the challenges of tradeshows, which must offer brands a platform where buyers come to buy collections. Once upon a time stores would come with ample budgets in search of newness, but nowadays there is as much browsing and schmoozing as there is buying.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review

Fashion is all about relationships, even more so when it comes to working with local stores who are not buying the latest catwalk or trend collections. These boutique owners have copious choices in which brands to stock and Modefabriek offers a decent edit of brands for its market.

Modefabriek Amsterdam, a buyer's review The trade fair season kicked off. During the month of July FashionUnited will focus on trade shows. For all reads on tradefairs, click here.

Photo credit: Modefabriek SS18, by FashionUnited

Pure London debuts ‘Meet the Experts’ area

Pure London’s July SS18 event will feature an additional area, where visitors will have the chance to engage in one-to-one discussions with industry experts.

Visitors can book one or more free sessions with experts prior to their visit, with topics including social media, marketing, launching a brand, general business advice, working with influencers, and fibre and fabric sourcing advice.

Industry experts available for discussions will include, Rowan Row, founder of thefashionwebb.com, Director of Utelier.com Dessy Tsolova, Just Hype’s Head of PR and Marketing, Ben Allingham along with many others. Covering a range of subjects, the meet the experts area will be joining a line-up of more than 30 speakers across the three days - including Monday’s keynote address with British designer, Henry Holland.

Pure London is the UK's leading trade fashion buying event, representing womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories and young fashion - taking place from July 23 to 25 at Olympia, London.

Photo: Dessy Tsolova, courtesy of Pure London

Henry Holland to speak at Pure London

Leading London fashion trade fair, Pure London, has tapped British fashion designer Henry Holland as its second keynote speaker for its upcoming edition in July. Together with Pam Hogg, Henry Holland is set to take to the stage at Pure London, running from July 23 to 25 and share his expert industry insights on the cusp of his eponymous label 10 year anniversary.

The designer's speech, which is set to take place on Monday, July 24 at 3.20 pm, will cover a wide array of topics including his unconventional route into the fashion industry, how brands can remain authentic, collaborations, how he keeps customers engaged as well as his greatest challenges. "Henry is a much loved and respected figure in the industry and we are delighted to welcome him to Pure London," commented Julie Driscoll, Portfolio Director for Pure London. "I think visitors will find his address insightful and informative."

Henry Holland to speak at Pure London

Holland first caught the industry's interest back in 2006 with his iconic ‘fashion groupies’ slogan tees. In early 2008, after showing for two seasons with Fashion East, his label House of Holland held its first solo show on schedule during London Fashion Week to critical acclaim. Since then his brand has continued to grow and is now an internationally established brand, stocked in leading department stores such as Colette, Opening Ceremony, and Liberty.

However, he reflects on his "alternative" approach to starting out in the fashion industry, noting; "I kind of worked back to front and launched my business with one of the most commercial products that you can which is a printed t-shirt, and then I built an aesthetic off the back of that... I did that whole process completely back to front. The biggest challenge for me has been communicating to the consumer and the media that we are more than a t-shirt brand."

Henry Holland to speak at Pure London

Holland will also speak about growing his business overseas at Pure London, focusing on China, in particular, a market which accounts for 26 percent of its business share, as House of Holland prepares to launch open its debut concept store in the country. "I would like to build our own retail concept whether that’s bricks and mortar or more of an online proposition. To create something that showcases our world as a whole, as an entirety encompassing all our collections and product categories under one roof, there’s an opportunity there to create something really exciting," he added.

The British designer adds to a line-up of more than 30 inspiring speakers across the three days, including Sunday’s keynote address by Pam Hogg. Other key speakers at Pure London include Alice Ratcliffe, Brand Lead, Appear Here, Olivia Cantillon, Director, Ownthelook.com and Nichole de Carle, Lecturer at London College of Fashion for Activewear, Lingerie, and Swimwear Design.

Henry Holland Photo credit: Mariano Vivianco

CFE launches new Manufacturers trade show

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE), the incubator for fashion and fashion technology, is launching a new trade show for manufacturers to take place in London next month.

Taking place on July 11 at York Hall in Bethnal Green, the one-day event is targeting small brands and retailers and will showcase more than 20 exhibitors with the aim of introducing fashion brands to manufacturers who can produce smaller scale quantities in order to progress their businesses.

“London is known for nurturing the most innovative and authentic creative fashion designers and emerging businesses but without manufacturers to support and work with them their creative talent and growing businesses would not be realised,” said Judith Tolley, head of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise. “Our vision is to connect business with manufacturers with a view to developing long-term working relationships.”

CFE launches new Manufacturers trade show

The Manufacturers trade show is part of CFE’s Fashion Technology Emerging Futures (FTEF) project, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the aim of supporting the “new eco-system emerging in London”, recognising the convergence of fashion and technology SMEs.

Centre for Fashion Enterprise to host manufacturing trade show in London

Confirmed exhibitors at the launch event, which is planned to take place twice yearly from now on, includes: Fashion Enter, the social enterprise that provide sampling and small production runs for leading designers and new business startups; Zedonk that provides fashion labels with affordable modular online software; Offset Warehouse, an ethical textile company; Source Studio, which offers an all in one solution from fabric and trim sourcing, sampling through to production in Vietnam; Plus Samples that supples CMT, pattern cutting and grading services and Making for Change, a fashion training and manufacture unit, which opened in partnership with London College of Fashion and the Ministry of Justice.

Other exhibitions the have signed up are Pro Sampling Ltd, Eden Studio, New Planet, and London Sewing Services.

In addition, Making for Change has been commissioned to create a collection of tote bags featuring exclusive designs from CFE alumni including Phoebe English, Steven Tai, Teatum Jones and CFE Fashion Pioneer designer, Ovelia Transtoto.

Images: courtesy of Emmi Hyyppa of Sadie Williams AW17

Pure London adds 'footwear destination'

Trade show Pure London has announced that it is adding a ‘footwear destination’ at the forthcoming July edition of the show with a dedicated area on the upstairs floor.

Taking place at London Olympia from July 23-25, Pure London has stated that the footwear and accessory hall is set to be “one of the best offerings yet for buyings” as a host of international brands confirm attendance.

Returning brands include Birkenstock, which is set to showcase its latest spring/summer 2018 collection in a 430 square foot stand, alongside Nero Giardini, Alpe, Anuschka, Saz, Unisa and Yull London.

Pure London adds 'footwear destination'

Footwear brands set to make their Pure London debut include Swedish brand Kitty Clogs, which offers handcrafted clogs, US brand Betty Page, and Holster, one of the world’s leading footwear brands based at Noosa Beach, Australia, which offers jelly footwear and espadrilles, as well as bags and trainers. Established Spanish brand Alma en Pena are also showing in the UK for the first time.

The premium curated section will feature debut brand Mashizan, a Malaysian luxe brand of women’s shoes catering to sophisticated, fashion-forward women, alongside returning brands Arche, Audley, Lola Cruz, Pretty Ballerinas and Romanian designer Lutta.

There are also new brands set to showcase in the Accessories Hall including Italian bag brand Mandarina Duck and Mexican accessories brand Tea and Tequila, while Spanish brand PD Paola will launch its collection of elegant, contemporary jewellery. Pure London adds 'footwear destination'

Also, making its Pure London debut is Danish hat company Bronte, as well as Australian leatherworks company Volo, which offers simple yet beautiful leather products.

Gloria Sandrucci, event manager of Pure London Footwear and Accessories said: “The curated footwear and accessory edit for SS18 is exciting and fresh. I am very pleased that Footwear this season will be a Destination Area at Pure London with a proper sense of community located entirely upstairs. The section has also increased and will offer a great mix of international and British brands, many of whom are exclusively showcasing at Pure London.”

Pure London takes place from July 23-25 at London Olympia.

Images: courtesy of Pure London

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness

OPINION Pitti peacocks aside, the biannual fair Pitti Imagine for menswear is a tradeshow for reliable fashion.

Overheard from many a buyer's lips, the 'newsness' factor remains something of a lesser presence amongst the cavernous buildings housing swathes of brands, designers and products.

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness

Many booths are filled with the same brands, who return season after season to the same location, showcasing collections that are consistent and steady, but not so bold in the arena of directional fashion. But, they are likely decent business partners for the international stores who stock them, highlighting the fact that fairs are good for business too.

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness

Pitti is good for public relations

Pitti, of course, is a marvelous exercise in pr. The Cornaliani agent sums it up as relationship building. Much ado about meeting, greeting, and discussing the industry at large. Less so about writing orders.

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness

Some brands cement their presence without any product, focusing only on image. Italian shoe brand Premiata, for example, have only one pair of shoes on display, flatpacked in plastic, decorating their entry. Buyers are instead directed to their showroom, perhaps later in the season. Other brands, like Italian lifestyle connoisseur Brunello Cucinelli, have created entire worlds to showcase their brand - foliage, statues and art included.

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness

Less hysterical this time are the chaps dressed-up, expertly camera-ready for the many street style photographers that stand outside the fair's entry. Perhaps because menswear has now become so important, there is a real sense of commerciality and financial focus.

Companies like Canada Goose, Herno and PT01 are showing customers how important they are to the menswear mix. With new product categories on offer, there is a sense of healthy expansion, not of the 'nobody is buying' vibe from a few seasons ago.

Perhaps that is the newness, buying brands that are already familiar to us, who's products we know and trust.

Pitti Uomo, in search of newness During the month of June FashionUnited will focus on the menswear catwalk season. For all reads, click here.

Photo credit: Pitti Uomo, Don-Alvin Adegeest

Bread & Butter By Zalando to return this September

Bread & Butter By Zalando is set to return to Berlin this September under its new theme ‘Bold’ following its successful debut edition last fall. The former fashion trade fair, which was previously acquired by online giant Zalando and transformed into a consumer-facing festival, is set to run from September 1 to 3, 2017 at Arena Berlin, Germany.

The three-day event is set to bring together fashion, music and food and will feature leading brands such as Adidas, Converse, Fila, Topshop and Nike. Visitors attending B&&B 2017 can expect to see the upcoming fall/winter 2017 collections from over 40 fashion brands which will be spread across three different zones: fashion, urban and active. In addition, the new location offers brands more room to feature interactive brand activities, such as customisation workshops, sports lessons or augmented-reality experiences.

Bread & Butter By Zalando to return this September

Bread & Butter by Zalando hosted a sneak preview of its upcoming edition at the Artist Hall in Berlin earlier this week, which saw the likes of Dame Vivienne Westwood, Adwoa Aboah and Aitor Throup attend. During the preview, Cartsen Hendrich, Vice President of Brand Marketing at Zalando shared some of the upcoming plans for Bread & Bread by Zalando and its new concept ‘Bold.’ During a panel discussion with creative industries leaders like Erika Bowes, Fergus Purcell and MikeQ, they discussed what it means to be bold and how to be disruptive in a global sense.

The concept of ‘Bold’ also includes a new innovative approach to make the catwalk shows at the event more accessible to the public in order to ensure brands share the experience first hand with their audience. Expect to see catwalk shows from the likes of The Couples, Topshop and G-Star in a new fashion show area outside of the arena. In line with the see now, buy now theme, visitors will be able to purchase most of the items shown directly following the catwalk shows online at Zalando using a new shop solution featuring RFID developed by the online giant.

Bread & Butter By Zalando to return this September

"The current global Zeitgeist calls for a new, honest, action-driven response," said Carsten Hendrich, VP Brand Marketing Zalando at the preview. “Therefore this year Bread & Butter is influenced by the motto ‘Bold’ giving a stage to new ideas, fearless opinions and daring looks that stand out from the crowd. Celebrating the various facets that the fashion world has to offer and paying tribute to courage, character and individuality to inspire everyone to go for ‘Bold’.”

Photos: Courtesy of Bread & Butter By Zalando

FashionUnited's Guide to Pitti Uomo 92

INTERACTIVE MAP It´s almost there - the 92nd edition of Pitti Uomo, one of the most recognizable Italian menswear fashion fairs is about to kick off. This year’s edition takes places between June 13 and 16 and is expected to attract over 30.000 visitors from across the globe.

A total of 1,220 menswear brands is set to present their Spring/Summer collections for 2018 across 60,000 square meters of exhibition space at the Fortezza da Basso, with nearly half of all the brands coming from outside of the Italian market.

In order to make your visit to Pitti Uomo as smooth as possible - or for those who may be skipping the trade fair for one season, FashionUnited has gathered the most exciting events of the Florence-based event is one place. Scroll down to explore our interactive map.

Click on 'Start Exploring' and continue by following the arrows, or discover more by simply clicking on the location.

Pitti Uomo is a part of Pitti Immagine, an Italian company specialized in production of international fairs and promotional events focussing mainly on the high quality Italian and international fashion. Created in 1972, Pitti Uomo takes place biannually. The next, 93rd edition, will take place in January 2018 in Florence.

FashionUnited's Guide to Pitti Uomo 92 During the month of June FashionUnited will focus on the menswear catwalk season. For all reads, click here.
In Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

Amsterdam - Sneakerness is a real Walhalla for all sneaker lovers. Europe's biggest sneaker conference returned to the capital of the Netherlands once more for its seventh edition. Taking place at the Kromhouthal, the event welcomed international brands, independent sneaker retailers, brands, private sellers and collectors from across Europe, marking it largest event to date. In total, nearly 9,000 sneaker heads visited the event, which ran from June 3 to 4, which is 3,000 more than its previous edition.

In Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

15 European stores were present at the event with their own dedicated stand, ranging from France, Germany, Switzerland and well as newcomer Poland. In addition to stores, 140 private sellers who represent some of the world's biggest collectors were present with their own stands in Sneakerness Amsterdam.

In Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

According to Marketing Manager Matthijs van der Meulen, the event also attracted a broader audience this year. "You still have the sneaker freaks who are waiting outside the shop first thing in the morning to score that one exclusive pair, but this year we also saw visitors who were attending the event for the first time and curious about the sneakers and the event itself."

In addition to scoring a new pair of kicks, visitors could also in listen on a number of panel discussions between designers, collectors, and vloggers or visit the Sneaker Art Gallery.

In Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

Unique sneakers from Sunika sneaker shop in Amsterdam.

In Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

The most expensive pair of sneakers present at the event were the Nike Air Mag. Also known as the 'self-shrinking sneaker' from the film classic 'Back to the Future', the sneakers drew a big crowd. The price tag: 60,000 euros.

In Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

There was also sneaker jewelry for the real die hard fans.

In Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

Sneakerness takes place once a year in Amsterdam. The traveling conference already took place in Düsseldorf and Zurich earlier this year and is set to move on to Berlin, Cologne, Warsaw, and Paris.

In Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness AmsterdamIn Picture: Sneakerness Amsterdam

The first edition of Sneakerness took place in Switzerland back in 2008 and was organized by a small group of sneaker lovers. Since then the consumer fair has grown to become one of the most important events for the European sneaker and footwear industry.

Photos: FashionUnited