What’s Next for Who’s Next?
6 September 2016
Author: Vesta Zemaite
Amidst security concerns, buying trends we had observed elsewhere stood out for us at the Who’s Next, Premiere Classe, and Bijorhca trade shows in Paris.
Both Who’s Next and Premiere Classe, one of the key sections of Who’s Next, seemed to have significantly less footfall than we were accustomed to seeing. However, there were encouraging signs of life. Brands and agents searching out new directions seemed to be rewarded. Several companies told us that recent R&D efforts had paid off through increased attention from buyers, and brands that stood out as having original, commercial ideas received orders. We also spoke to agents moving from designing to selling and the other way around – creating fresh paths for commerce in these challenging times. Generally, the vibe, although quiet, was positive and forward-looking.
We were intrigued by the continued growth of the accessories sector, namely sunglasses, watches, and the gift and home sector as exhibited in concept store setups. It makes sense that these aspirational buys for consumers would appeal to end users as day-to-day representations of pleasure against shifting political realities. We saw evidence of this in the exhibit of sunglass designers prominently visible in the centre of Premiere Class, mirrored by the high traffic of international customers at independent glass / sunglass shops in Paris.
In terms of buyers, as usual for this exhibition, there was a large spectrum of global clientele. European and Middle Eastern buyers dominated; there were less attendees than normal from USA as authorities officially recommended Americans not travel to Paris because of recent events.
Interestingly, we saw a surge of business-savvy, commercial Indian brands with a keen awareness of international markets, poised to partner and export. In the last couple of years we have received more enquiries from that part of the world, and appreciated seeing manifestations of that tendency at the shows.
Brands told us that the Premiere Classe show taking place during Paris Fashion Week at the Tuileries in late September attract more Asian buyers; this edition of Premiere Classe is more design-led and many designers we spoke to were considering this edition if they were not already planning on showing.
It was great to see aspiring innovative brands such as British brand Popband http://thepopband.coms - simple, catchy and unique young brand trending on social media and winning over the fans internationally.
Moving on to the jewellery and watch show Bijorhca, we felt that attendance was higher here than at the other shows, further affirming our observation about the vitality of the accessories market. There seemed to be more watch stands and real silver and gold at higher prices, whereas previously the majority of stands were for value or mid-price wares. A conspicuous theme was DIY jewellery, where consumers are offered the opportunity to mix and match pieces of jewellery and coordinate colour themes.