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Hyve portfolio director on Fashion Together and upcoming February shows


By Huw Hughes

1 Oct 2020

Trade fairs have been massively impacted in recent months due to Covid-19, with event organisers around the world launching digital iterations to replace the traditionally physical shows.

Hyve Group, the company behind UK trade shows Pure London, Moda, Jacket Required and Scoop, was no exception when earlier this month it launched Fashion Together, a digital forum intended to allow fashion professionals to do business despite Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The event welcomed a worldwide audience from 42 countries across 6 continents, with six content-focused sessions running over two days, a virtual showroom, and panel discussions featuring guests Kerry Bannigan of Conscious Fashion Campaign, Claire Bergkamp, global sustainability director at Stella McCartney, and Christine Goulay, head of sustainable innovation at Kering.

Last week, Hyve announced it expects 2020 revenue to be half of what it was in 2019 largely due to cancelled events. But the company has already begun running physical shows again as measures ease in certain parts of the world. The group launched its first Russian events since lockdown this week and has now run a total of 12 face-to-face events in the fourth quarter, delivering around 9 million pounds of revenue.

And events Pure London, Pure Origin, Scoop, Jacket Required and Moda are scheduled to return in physical form in February. Ahead of this, FashionUnited spoke to Hyve’s portfolio director Martin Arnold about the first edition of Fashion Together and what to expect from the return of UK trade shows.

How was Fashion Together? How did buyers and brands react to the new format?

Fashion Together was a huge success and we’re delighted that it proved so valuable for brands and buyers alike. Taking place over two days, Fashion Together was designed to unite the industry and bring the latest market insights and new collections to the fore.

An exclusive content programme featured expert speakers with topics ranging from SS21 trends to building a sustainable future for fashion in the wake of the pandemic. We have already received feedback that our product showcases and virtual showrooms were a success, with many buyers placing orders with new suppliers as a result of the forum.

What was your highlight?

It’s hard to choose just one highlight, but the Pantone session and Conscious Fashion Campaign panel hosted by Kerry Bannigan definitely stood out. Pantone’s Laurie Pressman discussed the upcoming colour trends for SS21, providing insight into the ways in which the pandemic has influenced the season’s shades. Continuing with the Power of One campaign, Conscious is a key sector focus for us this season, so Kerry Bannigan’s #BuildBackBetter interview with Christine Goulay, head of sustainable innovation at Kering, brought crucial insights for how we can help the industry rebuild for a sustainable future.

Our panel hosted by Drapers’ Editor Kirsty McGregor was also a highlight as it really proved the strength and resilience of the UK’s independent retail sector. These businesses were so imaginative and adaptable during the lockdown months and it’s so inspiring to see the ways in which the UK has banded together to support local retailers and independents.

Will you continue to provide this digital format once physical fairs are up and running again? If yes, what will you change from lessons you’ve learnt this time around?

Fashion Together was a huge success and as the first of three virtual forums for Hyve Group, it has provided learnings that are informing the UK’s other forums. Whilst our priority for 2021 is to focus on getting our physical events back up and running, that doesn’t mean to say we won’t be doing any more virtual forums and sessions in the future!

How are you already preparing for your physical February 2021 shows? What can we expect from Pure London AW21/22 or is it too early to say?

Our AW21/22 edition will be all about Refuelling Retail for 2021. As part of a portfolio of market leading trade shows, Pure London and Pure Origin will be committed to breathing new life into UK trade, reimagining where new opportunities lie in the new normal. Providing a platform for discovery, a destination for purchase-ready buyers and a dynamic environment facilitating business, Pure London will pave the way for retailers and brands alike to help the market recover.

What effect do you think the pandemic will have on the mid/long term future of trade shows? Will digital versions become increasingly important or will physical ones retain their edge?

Our industry is an incredibly tactile one, and nothing can replace the physical act of touching and feeling products and fabrics. In that sense, trade shows will remain as important as ever for buyers to really get to know collections and trends before buying. That being said, the virtual forum proved that we can deliver some elements of our events digitally and we will look to integrate digital opportunities as part of our strategies moving forward in order to make our events accessible for even more people.

Photo credit: Hyve Group