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The future of fashion trade shows

March 20, 2017
Author: Vesta Zemaite

Now that we’ve had our fill of tradeshows across the world, we at the Anton Dell fashion Consultancy have noted a number of show trends that help us to project the direction trade fairs are going towards.

With numbers at trade shows dropping dramatically in recent times, many trade shows have adopted more interesting methods to engage its audiences, both old and new. From seminars to workshops, fashion shows and pop ups, many of the fashion trade fairs are improving their stance presenting more opportunities for their visitors and exhibitors to optimise the investment. Organisers are introducing workshops and mentorship programs, under the notion that adding perceived value is important. More and more shows are adding seminars to its programs making these ‘once purely wholesale selling’ events even more of a collaborative rendezvous. They instantly become more of a place to share, learn and evolve. This was heavily displayed at the service hub, in the latest edition of ‘Who’s Next’, Paris. Moda, Birmingham, is one of the latest fairs said to be adding seminar program starting in August.

Social responsibility and innovation trends are key. With trade show organisers determined to continue innovating and ‘re-inventing’, many are utilising digital platforms in the hopes of optimising brands’ and victors’ engagement. This year, numerous trade shows had navigational apps, launched online ‘market places’ and sourced social media engagement through live streaming. Drapers report that ‘the potential of digital platforms to transform traditional trade shows could be a key focus for the future’. Engagement through digital channels has and will definitely continue to play a heavy part in these events.

In addition to this, more and more shows are focusing on experience and going beyond the standard event space with hundreds of brand booths. Modern trade shows are featuring 3D displays and interactive fresh installations which was heavily displayed at this year’s CIFF, Copenhagen.

There have been a number of digital trade show platforms arise. On one hand, it’s great for trade fairs to be well immersed in the digital age. However, we have learnt this continues to raise concerns amongst both agents and brands in regards to the practicality of these heavy investment-requiring platforms. Having spoken with a number of our fellow colleagues in the field, we have yet to learn the level to which buyers are to adopt these platforms. Will they find it too risky to purchase collections without actually being able to see or feel them first hand? Or will they appreciate the transactional excellence these platforms are to offer and limited investment required when trialling new brands? Are brands willing to offer ‘no limited order’ or ‘free return’ policies? Nevertheless, this could be an ideal solution for follow up buys or quick delivery orders that have been in growing demand.

True, we cannot completely dismiss the good ‘old-fashion’ selling method of fashion agents or reps visiting shops or showcasing collections in showrooms and fairs. But one thing is for certain - digital platforms will continue to play a significant role in nurturing user engagement and helping to improve the overall experience of trade shows. What brands will increasingly look for is clear return on investment. Trade shows, whether digital or traditional, will be on increasing pressure to turn those clicks into quantifiable results for brands in order to retain valuable exhibitors and visiting buyers.


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