Spanish trade fair organizers are polishing up their images in an effort to counter negative economic indicators such as a soft dollar and increased competition from Asian imports in the Spanish market.

For instance, the trade event portion of Moda Barcelona-BCN Fashion Week (Sept. 6-12, at the Montjuïc fairgrounds) has changed its name from Salon Gaudi to BCN Showrooms and promises “an innovative concept and a new global image,” according to press notes. Part of that promise includes a reorganization of the show’s product categories to fall under five banners: Blanc (veteran designers and promising up-and-comers); Verd (women’s/men’s ready-to-wear and accessories); Play (casual sportswear and denim); Blau (lingerie/swimwear), and Groc (domestic and international lines repped by Spanish agents).

According to Alex Flaqué, director of Flaqué Internacional, organizer of fashion week, the change in format represents “a more contemporary presentation of product classifications, in response to expanding distribution channels and evolving lifestyles in Europe.”

The Barcelona trade event reported 11,500 visitors at the fair’s February edition, which featured 250 brands stretched over 75,000 square feet, according to Flaqué. For the upcoming edition, Flaqué said that he anticipated a small increase in vendors, but added, “Our objective is quality, not quantity.”

Meanwhile, the Pasarela Gaudi runway portion of Fashion Week registered a whopping 35,000 visitors, according to Flaqué. The five-day event featured such local design muscle as Antonio Miró and street-savvy sportswear firm Armand Basi, who made headlines that week by appointing Miriam Ocáriz to the helm of its women’s line and Josep Abril to head the men’s line beginning summer 2005. Designers for the upcoming shows have not been confirmed.

Barcelona Bridal Week and the highly successful bridalwear forum, Noviaespaña, kick off June 16-20, with a marginal increase in floor space from last year’s show. Flaqué Internacional, which also organizes the annual bridal events, said 180 brands are expected on 230,994 square feet of floor space in the fairgrounds’ Palacio 8. A spokesman for Flaqué Internacional, which anticipates an attendance figure of more than 13,000, including foreigners from 50 countries, called the fair “possibly the most prestigious bridal show in the world. The significance [of Noviaespaña] is indisputable; it’s a bridge to potential export countries and an emerging domestic market.”Traditionally a huge draw at Noviaespaña, the Pasarela Gaudi Novias catwalk presentations, to be held June 16-18, will feature 16 shows from such high-end bridal producers as Pronovias and Rosa Clará, although not in as impressive a venue. The Pasarela, usually held in the beautiful Gothic interior of Casa Llotja de Mar, formerly the Barcelona Stock Exchange, has moved to the less scenic Palacio 8 of the fairgrounds.

“It’s easier for visitors to have the trade event and runway shows under the same roof; it’s more comfortable, more convenient for them,” explained Flaqué.

For those attendees looking to take in a little history at Bridal Week, organizers have put together an exhibition in Palacio 8 called “1870-1970: A Century of Brides.” This exhibition will include a Sixties gown by Barcelona-based maestro Manuel Pertegaz, who also whipped up the royal dress that Letizia Ortiz wore to wed Prince Felipe de Borbón, Spain’s future king, on May 22 in Madrid.

Flaqué added that Flaqué Internacional is beefing up its international publicity campaigns for both the rtw and bridal fairs in order to reach “the largest foreign audience possible.” Information will be distributed mainly through Spain’s commercial offices within the European Union, he confirmed.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Madrid SIMM show (Aug. 27-30, at the Juan Carlos I fairgrounds), the second largest apparel fair in Europe after Germany’s CPD, said they are studying their options for improving the August edition, according to Pola Iglesias, director of SIMM organizer Ifema. One addition may be to reinstate a three-times-daily catwalk show during the trade event’s four-day run to better promote upscale vendors and seasonal trends, she said.

Trade fair space is also on the increase to compensate for record highs in exhibitors at the show. According to Ifema, the February edition saw an increase of 9 percent in exhibitors over the previous year, to 965 from 37 countries, with the fair spreading out over 13 percent more floor space, or about 402,000 square feet. Iglesias said this year is seeing an “increased interest from foreign vendors,” especially in the swimwear sector, which has a full house due to exhibitors from Brazil, a first-time participator, and the Canary Islands.Traffic at the last show, meanwhile, dropped marginally to 31,652 visitors, including 3,134 foreigners, but Iglesias reported that domestic producers are generally optimistic about the upcoming edition despite “less-than-ideal” dates during August, when Spaniards usually take their vacations.

Modacalzado, Madrid’s biannual shoe fair, in tandem with the Iberpiel leather goods show, is also expanding its exhibition space in the Juan Carlos I fairgrounds for the 15th edition, scheduled Sept. 24-26. For instance, Hall 8 will house “StarMark” overflow, an additional grouping of high-grade footwear producers, while junior and sports categories will relocate to Hall 10. Iberpiel graduates to its own hall, number 7, and medium-priced volume shoes will exhibit in Hall 9. The reorganization should facilitate a more coherent presentation, according to an Ifema organizer, while accommodating manufacturers on a waiting list and potential vendors.

Last March, exhibitor participation at the combined shows climbed 9.3 percent over the previous year — to 772 — on 379,729 square feet of floor space. Foreign booths represented 11 countries, with significant vendor presence from Portugal, Italy, Tunisia and France.

The leather shows were the first trade events in Madrid since the catastrophic mid-March terrorist bombings. Director Iglesias said security measures, including entrance scanners and police dogs, had been increased.

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