Regardless of your stance, trade shows are proving to be an ongoing issue for many members of the fashion industry. Attendance is still on the decline, with mixed messages concerning whether or not a brand should showcase is in fact still worthwhile. As this has been unfolding, there is now an argument that smaller, ‘market stall’ like crafts – such as bags, jewellery and accessories – are being seen more frequently in an exhibition setting. Is this the case, and how worthwhile can trade shows be for the smaller brands themselves?
If we look at crafts – or handmade, small scale products – in the bigger picture, there can be no question that there has been an increasing surge in their popularity, with the rise of platforms such as Not On The High Street and Etsy. In perhaps both an effort for adopting sustainable shopping patterns and a surge in supporting small businesses, more shoppers opt to ‘go local’ despite the possibility of increased prices and longer delivery. Taking this into consideration, whether a smaller brand can in fact benefit from exhibiting throughout the fashion trade show season remains as a shade of grey. At The Anton Dell Fashion, Gift & Home Consultancy, our team are no strangers to a show format - and the growing presence of craft products has not gone unnoticed. Many of the circuit’s major players have dropped out of exhibiting altogether, with the ‘little guy’ taking over showcase space from Berlin and Paris to Las Vegas. There is a real demand for well-built, bespoke unique products, something which the many smaller craft-based brands are happily supplying. But if they will make up the majority of exhibition attendees from now on, will it be completely worth their while?
Away from the big hitters in the trade show circuit, many craft products have their own shows, potentially posing a threat to the fashion big names if a large percentage of attendees come from this kind of business background. We have all heard the horror stories that a trade show can potentially bring – numbers declining in recent years, organisers not having a proper handle on the wants or needs of both exhibitioners and attendees. Having said that, opportunity is still very much available. A variety of brands that have showcased across Europe in early 2020 have stated that there is still a potential to reach attendees with a brand story, share possible industry pressures and capitalising on promotional opportunities. Even though we may now be seeing an increase in craft-based products at an international array of trade shows, organisers still need to bear the same priorities in mind to make exhibiting worthwhile in the face of the rise of crafts online and in brick-and-mortar environments.