LONDON — For U.K. trade show organizers, variety is proving to be the spice of life.
They say the keys to future success include an increasingly varied mix of brands and exhibitors, and collaborations with European and U.S. fairs.
"It's hard work for independent High Street retailers at the moment. There's competition from supermarket brands, who are producing very well-priced, decent quality product. And the large High Street chains will go on sale at the drop of a hat," said Carole Hunter, show director of Londonedge, an alternative fashion and streetwear fair, which will be held Sept. 4-6 at West London's Olympia 2 Center.
Hunter said independents, which make up the majority of the fair's visitors, rely on trade shows to source smaller brands and
create a more individual mix.
As a result, trade show organizers are working to emphasize the sort of brand diversity that retailers want to see in their shops.
At the next TBC and FAO, to be held Aug. 6-7 at the new venue of East London's Tobacco Dock, 30 brands will be introduced, taking the exhibitor numbers from 195 brands last season to 225.
At Pure, a middle- to high-end women's wear and accessories show, which will be held Aug. 12-14 at Olympia in London, new brands made up 28 percent of the 800 brands offered at last February's show.
At Margin, a directional streetwear show, 30 percent of the offerings at last February's 60-brand show were new labels, including streetwear brands Bonnie and Clyde, Mertle & George and Kontak. Attendance, too, was up 35 percent season-on-season.
"Buyers always want to see something new," said Louise Young, group exhibition director for Pure. "For department stores, it's really important that the brands we have show originality. The likes of Zara and Mango are making high-fashion designs accessible now, so we need to keep up with that."
Last season at Pure, representatives from Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marche shopped several new brands, including Peter Werth and Kickers Weekend.
U.K. show organizers saw buyer attendance increase last season, particularly among Europeans.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"