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Fashion is alive, it has to be de-compartmentalised, made more human. That is the gamble being entered into by Frédéric Maus, the new joint managing director of WSN Développment. In a few days, from 07 to 10 September in Paris-Porte de Versailles, Who’s Next and Première Classe will be celebrating the influence of African fashion in the worldwide Spring/Summer 2019 collections. A fashion show placed under the sign of renewal in an era in which the main players in the sector more than ever wish to share their artistic and sensory experiences, whilst respecting the expression of each. This is what this new order will look like, vibrant and passionate…
Since your arrival at WSN at the beginning of 2018, what have you managed to put in place?
I started by reorganising our internal teams with in particular the creation of two new departments: Client Success, which offers personalised support to our clients throughout the year; and the Offers Department, which detects what should be done to optimise the work of the brands at our trade shows. We have also brought the press in house in our organisation and have updated our IT platform to prepare for the arrival of the new services, whilst using the data to better effect and meeting the expectations of our ecosystem in a more relevant way.
With regard to the offer of trade shows, the participation of the exhibiting brands has been strengthened to enhance the emphasis of our themes. The ready-to-wear aspect has been regrouped as well as the accessories (urban and beachwear).
At Who’s Next and Première Classe, how do you now promote the performance and work of the brands?
We promote the work of our participating brands on the social networks, our website and our media operations, which promote them in special photo shoots, publicity editorials and press-relation operations… For each show, we now offer a strong theme aimed at arousing the senses and giving the brands the possibility of being expressed and meeting good buyers and prescribers relating to their positioning. For this trade show, some brands have also produced capsule collections relating to our theme.
Have there been any changes concerning the commercial relationship with the brands?
It is precisely because our profession has to orient itself more towards the personalised support of our clients that I created the new Client Services department. An essential part of our job is to listen to the client throughout the year and to offer relevant solutions in the face of the complexity of our sector.
What’s new in the next trade show in September?
New spaces are being grafted onto the fashion offer of our trade shows: fine jewellery, Mix & Mixed and Villa Beauty. We have been approached by many brands to incorporate cosmetics and beauty products, a sector that is both booming and dynamic, which allows us to carry out real commercial development at the next September show and that will continue in 2019. Also, our Beachwear section has been grouped together in the Hotel Californiafrica space.
Regarding the forthcoming trade shows, in 2019 and 2020 we are going to activate new budgets and we are already strengthening our relations with export aid associations. The establishment of a partnership with YCO and JD.COM (Business to Consumer and Business to Business) is also planned with the development of new services that will generate business, and there are still a lot of other new things to discover in 2019.
What course of action will you take to generate significant traffic and maximise the number of visitors?
Throughout the year and not only on the dates of the trade shows, we maintain a close link with retailers and buyers via different events, such as buyer breakfasts, marketing operations, etc. We are constantly renewing the offer by adapting to the needs of the market and as a result we are able to offer new and attractive conference programmes at each trade show.
Another interesting point which facilitates visits from our buyers is the “personal buyer” service that we continue to offer. There will also be a party as our trade shows which are well known for this and since their creation by Xavier Clergerie and Bertrand Foäche these have included events and evenings, with new artists to be discovered exclusively at the event.
Africa has been an inspiration for fashion houses. It is at the heart of global trends. How do you explain this passion?
You only have to walk down the streets of Africa to find talent, colours and design which are today shaping our world and that are infusing the world! Africa Street is the theme of our next trade show in September: the streets of 54 countries on the continent constitute inexhaustible sources of inspiration. The new African generation, proud of its ancestral cultures and its strong connection with the whole world, magnificently integrates and re-interprets the codes that came from Europe, the United States, the Caribbean or Asia, in collections that bear witness to the affirmation of self as well as the collective mix of cultures. Today, they are found together in unison.
South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Morocco will be represented to unveil all their riches.
Are you once again going to try to launch the trade show “Code Name: June” next year?
We are working on a new formula for June 2019. Something fresh and new will happen at that time of the year which is becoming increasingly important, season after season, since 80% of brand business is now based on pre-collections.
Photos: WSN Developpement: portrait of Frédéric Maus by Yannick Roudier. Who’s Next January 2018 by Benjamin Génault, Afrigarde (Atelier Meraki), Awale Studio (Lago 54).