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Modefabriek: Focus on womenswear and internationalisation at FW24 edition

By Sylvana Lijbaart


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Visitors at Modefabriek FW24. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento

It is an exciting time for the Dutch fair Modefabriek, which has been around since 1996, as it went through several changes in recent editions. For instance, it showed children's fashion again in winter 2023 and scrapped the separate men's section in the summer of the same year. Confusion ensued: was menswear welcome or not? Now, the focus has shifted to womenswear and internationalisation. While that was not entirely clear in the winter 2023 edition, it takes on a more concrete shape in the winter 2024 edition.

In the last summer month, Modefabriek announced that the focus on just womenswear was an opportunity to offer a broader range. “What we do, we like to do very well, and the fashion industry thrives on serving the modern woman. It's a women's world,” Caroline Krouwels, CEO and owner of Modefabriek, told FashionUnited at the time.

Consequently, this change was accompanied by adjustments on the show floor: the winter 2024 edition spanned less than two halls with 380 exhibiting brands. It is obviously a development that comes with the removal of menswear and children's fashion, but it is still considerably less than the editions before the pandemic - when there were still three halls filled with womenswear.

The focus on womenswear also brings new concepts. For instance, the trend forum gets a new look and the well-known “Young Entrepreneur Platform” makes way for a “Spotlight area” where 30 new fashion and lifestyle brands can be found. Moreover, the “Sustainable Stop” is no more; visitors can now walk a “Responsible Route” instead. Also new: “The Next Closet” - a vintage platform pop-up store offering second-hand garments from brands and high-end designers.

Fluresk stand. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento

Modefabriek focuses on womenswear, exhibitors positive

On Sunday morning, it is still quiet on the exhibition floor at the Rai Amsterdam Convention Centre, but exhibitors are ready to enthusiastically present their FW24 collections to visitors. Anyone who thinks that we will no longer see bright colours this coming winter is wrong. For example, Label Dot is showing a collection full of purple and orange colours, Fluresk has brought back its well-known prints and colours, and the Barts stand is richly filled with colourful hats. On the other hand, there are stands with neutral collections, such as JcSophie, which has brought nude colours, gray tones and blue accents.

Those making their way through the 380 stalls will notice that the fair looks less massive because stalls have been divided into smaller area. Krouwels encouraged brands to opt for smaller booths to save costs. People seem to adhere to this, which means that Modefabriek offers an oasis of peace. It is something that is appreciated not only by visitors, but also by exhibitors, including Lolaliza. The brand has been part of the Dutch wholesale landscape since May 2023 and presents its collection at a simple, white booth. “We are here to attract new customers and convince them of our method of working, which does not require pre-orders because of our collaboration with Fashion Cloud,” says wholesale manager Yves Rassaert. Lolaliza has about 30 wholesale points of sale so far and is at the fair to increase that number. On Sunday, the wholesale manager sees particular interest from Dutch and German visitors. Refined Department is also at the fair looking to grow, as can be overheard at the booth.

In addition to the somewhat subdued stands, there are still brands that love to go all out. For example, Giacomo The Jacket has transformed its stand into a real disco ball; Beaumont is once again placing its mannequins on a rotating platform and Pom Amsterdam is adding a mini exhibition in honour of its collaboration with Claes Iversen.

Booth of Giacomo The Jacket. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento
Booth of Giacomo The Jacket. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento

At C&S Fashion Group, the focus on womenswear is particularly well received. The fashion group is at the fair with its brands C&S the label, Exxcellent, Fluresk and G-maxx. “You now know what visitors come for. That works very well for us,” says operational director David Zheng at the Fluresk stand. “Boutique owners can find everything here to decorate their boutique, from clothing to jewellery and accessories. That works very well for us.” Zheng further shares, “Fluresk is a baby that is growing very fast.” The fashion brand has been around for about three years and is growing with 30 to 40 new customers every year. Fluresk has a total of 150 points of sale and its own store.

A similar story can be heard at the G-maxx stand. The brand continues to grow and will expand to Canada and Belgium in the summer. Plus size brand Exxcellent praises the focus on expanding womenswear. “Previously, there was no place for Exxcellent at the fair,” says Sarah Chen, creative director at C&S Fashion Group. Around noon it was already quite busy at the Exxcellent stand. “The demand for diversity and inclusivity is growing and we see this in the number of interested people at the stand. We are happy to be here with all our brands.”

Europe migrates to Modefabriek

A focus on internationalisation is also strongly evident at the winter 2024 edition when one looks at the audience. In addition to the German buzz, which already dominated the SS24 edition, this time there are also visitors from the rest of Europe. Moreover, the fair attracts the attention not only of buyers, but also of manufacturers and (future) fashion students and exhibitors.

For example, Lin Noort focuses on the number of jobs available in the fashion industry. She may do an apprenticeship in fashion and will get an idea of what the industry has to offer thanks to Modefabriek. There is also a representative of the Slovakian brand Suchanova present who visits the fair to get acquainted with Modefabriek. “I get to know other brands in this way and today I got a good idea of whether Suchanova fits in at this fair,” she said. She prefers to keep it a secret if that is the case. Also present at the fair is Maria Kikis, producer at Kikis Fashion Group from Greece. Kikis visits the fair to visit its customers and approach potential customers. The manufacturer describes the winter edition as a successful fair, which is better organised than the year before.

As far as buyers are concerned, they are missing menswear here and there, but the focus on womenswear is understood, state Melanie and Nadja Goldener of the Swiss Goldener Mode AG. “There are a lot of new brands and we find that interesting. Moreover, it is not too busy, so everyone takes the time to have a chat with you. However, we do serve the women's and men's segments, which means we miss men's fashion.” A buyer of Fobie women's fashion and Maurice Mens Fashion from Belgium shares the same sentiment.

For the owner of womenswear retailer Pol Mode from Hengelo, Selma van Essen, the first day of Modefabriek was a great success. “I walked around here for more than four hours and I was able to orientate myself very well. For me the following applies: without a fair, no ordering. It is now very nice to find all aspects of women's fashion under one roof; from clothing and shoes to earrings and other accessories.”

Spotlight banners. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento

New brands shine at “Spotlight”

A striking feature of this edition is the Spotlight area, which gives a stage to 30 new fashion and lifestyle brands. The space, which is identified by large “Spotlight” banners on the ceiling, is located at the back of Hall A and is accompanied by a vintage orange Volkswagen van that functions as a coffee shop. A DJ sets the mood by playing upbeat lounge music. The platform is well attended throughout the day and exhibitors experience this as exciting. For many it is the first time that they are at a trade fair, such as the beachwear brand Heyb Club, which is available via wholesale for the first time. “We are at Modefabriek to generate brand awareness,” says founder Florien Heyblom. “The brand is well received. I mainly hear many German voices. I'm actually looking for French or Spanish buyers but they will take a little while longer. Nevertheless, I am proud to have a place at a fair like this.” The orange-yellow area also contains labels such as Goldiie, which makes earrings from real flowers, and Ventri - a brand that makes accessories from a cow's stomach.

Floria Collective, which can also be found in the Spotlight area, had many nice conversations on Sunday, but hopes that it will be busier on Monday. The brand attaches great importance to sustainability and uses only natural dyeing techniques. Fleur Geerinck, co-owner of the brand, proudly shows a white silk blouse. “The yellow floral prints come from real flowers that are, as it were, beaten onto the blouse,” she explains.

Searching for the “Responsible Route”

The sustainable aspect means that Floria Collective is part of the Responsible Route - a customised route that visitors with a high interest in sustainability can walk. All brands that are part of the route meet certain criteria regarding sustainability, ethical production and a circular approach. Visitors find the route by scanning a special QR code at the entrance that gives access to the special map. In addition, participating brands can be recognised by the QR codes under their booth numbers.

According to Geerinck, the significance of the Responsible Route could be communicated more clearly. “Many visitors do not know which booth number belongs to which brand. That causes some confusion, I have noticed. For example, at Seek, where we also participated, we received a green sign that made our sustainable qualities known. That would also be a good addition here,” said the co-founder. This opinion was shared by Marc O'Polo, as voiced at the stand.

Booths at Modefabriek. Credits: FashionUnited / Alicia Reyes Sarmiento

It has become clear that the innovations during the winter edition of 2024 were positively received by visitors and exhibitors alike. The smaller, less bombastic stands provide an oasis of calm for brands and ensure that the focus is on the product again. The wide range of womenswear is something that buyers especially like, although here and there there is a desire for a menswear section. Modefabriek managed to take its goal of internationalisation to a higher level in this edition with a large number of European visitors being spotted at the fair. The new Spotlight platform is well received by the public and exhibitors, as is the Responsible Route, although some improvements could still be made in terms of signage.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.nl. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.