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Parisian trade fairs up the ante

3 Jul 2012


Seasonal fashion is so last season. French trade fair Who's Next Prêt-à-Porter Paris should primarily be about new products. So says Xavier Clergerie, co-founder of Who's Next and Premiere Classe. Buying opportunities should

take place four times a year, at the various trade fairs organized by WSN. The trade fair's new dates - 30 June and 1 July - fit this new strategy. "There is no longer any differentiation between summer and winter fashion."

a rock band plays melancholy tunes, models execute a dance dressed in the latest fashions. As warriors with feather headdresses, they turn cartwheels in neon-coloured outfits. The men wear black costumes, complete with beards and high hats. "This catwalk is exactly what Who's Next stands for. Inspiration," says trade fair manager Xavier Clergerie. Adds press attaché Elodie Lavesvre: "Xavier loves to get involved in the creative angle. Like which colours should go on the walls. His favourite part is dragging the bales of hay to the front of the main hall."

But Clergerie does more than pick colours and drag bales of hay. Following the take over of Who's Next's biggest competitor, Parisian trade fair Prêt-à-Porter Paris, last year, his vision has crystallised. His first step: to move the fair back from September to June. "September was stupid," he says. Ukranian fashion designer Elena Burenina is not so certain. This is her third time participating with a stand in Paris, previously at Prêt-à-Porter Paris. She has noticed that the standard of the brands has been raised, but calls the new dates 'dubious'. "The visitors aren't ready to buy yet in June. They prefer to look around first," says the designer. "The fact that the fair is becoming increasingly international is a positive development. It's good that brands from different countries are able to show their vision of fashion."

Internationalisation is exactly what Clergerie is after. In light of this, there is an 'exposition' of ten designers from different countries who deliver their vision on the 'it-girl'. In addition, special attention has been given to Japanese brands. Of the 2000 participating brands, 59 percent comes from outside France, but according to Clergerie, what matters most to these brands is that foreign buyers visit the fair. The goal for next year: 50 percent foreign visitors.

In addition to Who's Next Prêt-à-Porter Paris, visitors can wander around Eclat de Mode - Bijorhca, the accessories trade fair, and fashion labels and large retailers may also visit Fatex, a trade fair that specializes in manufacturing and merchandising. According to trade fair manager Agnès Etame-Yescot, companies like Zadig & Voltaire, Otto, Hugo Boss and Premaman attend the sourcing trade fair. Participants hail primarily from Asia. Although China is still the world's largest manufacturer, orders there are decreasing - particularly because of increasing labour costs - and Bangladesh is gaining ground. "Price is still one of the most important criteria for visitors," says Etame-Yescot. This is precisely the reason why Mhamud Khan from Bangladesh has travelled to Paris. "I also participate in an American trade fair, but the European market holds more potential for me. Price is more important here."