The Fashion Fair used to be all about selling. Buyers would descend on the fairs in droves, seeking out new brands to place orders with, while checking on their existing brands new season’s products. But it is now much more difficult to actually take an order at a Fashion Fair as they have now become marketing exercises and not sales events.
If you had the right product it would sell.
Fast forward to the age of social media and things have changed drastically.
It is now much more difficult to actually take an order at a Fashion Fair as they have now become marketing exercises and not sales events.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that no business occurs. It does but this usually happens over an email after the show has ended. Just be aware that the Fashion Fair is a chance for buyers to be wined and dined by their contacts in the industry.
Why a Fashion Fair?
You may be asking yourself whether it would benefit you to show at a fair considering that you may not sell anything for a number of seasons.
You could compare the fashion industry to a wheel.
Marketing leads to exposure, which leads to sales, which then leads back to marketing and so on.
In addition to this, your presence at a trade fair for a number of seasons inspires confidence in a buyer.
So many brands come and go that it’s difficult to invest money in one that’s here today but gone tomorrow.
Also, remember that the successful selling of your brand is not purely based on showing at a Fashion Trade Show.
This is achieved through a combination of independently acquiring good stockists and receiving great press coverage in the right publications.
1. Before you consider showing at a fashion fair take a couple of seasons to create a buzz around your brand.
2. Create a lookbook and contact a handful of shops for appointments to see the buyers.
3. Also, build up your social networks of choice, post interesting content and follow the key people who are right for your target market.
Once you have done this then start to consider showing at one.
How to Pick a Fashion Fair?
Unveiling your collection at a trade fair is a very exciting prospect and one that every budding designer should aspire to. However, as a start-up brand, choosing one that is right for you when you have little experience of the market, can also be rather intimidating.
I can only imagine the questions fighting for attention in your head, should you show locally or travel further afield to Paris or New York?
What will the costs be and where will you find the listings that advertise the fairs?
- Researching the market and navigating the right fair should be your main priority. You should have already determined who your competitors are by researching your market and defining your price points.
- Contact them and ask questions in regards to the show; whether it was successful for them, whether they made any sales after the show and how well was the collection received by the press.
Take all of these things into consideration and then visit the fairs they’re showing at, as it is far easier to attract the right buyers and press if you and your competitors are in the same place.
A Fashion Fair is generally open to pre-registered trade buyers and the press.
But organisers lately have been opening their doors to students as the organizers, rightly so, consider them to be their clients of the future. Gaining entry to a Fashion Fair is relatively easy if you contact the organizers and say that you’re contemplating booking a stand for the following season.
They are always looking for new exhibitors and will be most welcoming.
- Remember that the point of showing at a fair is to ultimately make some sales. The majority of shows are advertised through their own website and will have listings of buyers who have attended in the past. Study the names to see whether you recognise any of the stores the buyers represent or if there are stores on the list that you would like to sell to.
Where to Find Listings for a Fashion Fair?
Once you have visited a few fairs your competitors are showing at, you may be interested in further research to find out exactly what’s out there.
Finding listings that don’t bombard you with every trade show in the world is not necessarily the best way to find what you’re looking for.
Related Reading: 9 Tips to Help You Cope With Fashion Trade Shows Overwhelm
For local designers, you should consider contacting the United Kingdom Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) as they will provide you with a long list of fairs that take place in England, Europe and America.
Those of you who are further afield should contact your country’s equivalent association for listings.
In addition to this, the UKFT also offer grants for clothing and accessory designers through the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP). Under the current TAP scheme, eligible companies can receive a lifetime global allocation of 6 TAP grants.
There are a few websites in India that give you a complete list of Fashion Fair(s) to visit, like Events Eye.
Which Fashion Fair is the Best to Show at?
Selecting the best show for your brand will be far easier providing you have considered some fundamentals.
In the early stages of design and product development, you should have defined who your target market is.
– Are you planning on attracting millennials or an older demographic with a high net worth and more spending power?
– Your price points will also have some bearing on which show is best for you.
Fashion Trade Fairs fall into two categories:
- A forward order which means that orders are placed by a buyer and the designer has 5-6 months to produce and deliver the items. Shows such as London Fashion Week (or LFW) cater to forward ordering. Shows that offer forward order and short order include Pure London.
- Short order focusses on the immediate delivery of street style and trendier items once an order has been placed.
The type of product you’re showing also has a bearing on which fashion fair to choose.
Top Drawer in London is a Short and Forward-order UK show that specializes in showcasing a range of lifestyle brands. These include Home, Gift, Fashion and Craft. Footwear and accessories designers would do well to consider showing at.
Premiere Classe in Paris, as it focusses specifically on these two fashion segments. A Fashion fair can coincide with the Fashion Week calendar so usually occur bi-yearly.
The fairs at the beginning of the year will show Autumn/Winter collections for delivery six months later, or short order Summer ranges for immediate delivery.
Spring/Summer collections and short order winter ranges will be showcased at fairs starting in July-October.
High fashion items would suit representation at shows such as Pure London or Who’s Next in Paris, while designer items, with a higher price point, would be better shown at London Fashion Week (LFW is held at The Store Studios at 180 Strand, London) or Vendome Luxury in Paris.
Showing at either of these shows raises the profile of brands and is considered to be the icing on the cake for those in the mid to high-end sectors. Fashion Fair(s) feature catwalk shows as well as a static show, where a vast selection of clothing and accessories designers show their collections in February for Autumn/Winter collections and September for Spring/Summer collections.
The Designer Showrooms is home to over 150 British and international designers. It’s a very competitive fair to get into as their application criteria are very strict.
Whichever show you select, ensure that you do your homework thoroughly before you make any commitments. Also, be aware that you are hiring lighting and furniture for the duration of the show and it will not be yours to keep. Show organisers offer various packages to designers and will sometimes give discounts to start-ups.
If you have any questions about this article or general feedback then please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below.
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