By and  on November 21, 2007

PARIS — WHILE THE EURO MAY BE SOARING NEAR historic levels against the dollar and yen, French trade show organizers remain optimistic about the upcoming season.

Organizers said business has been strong in the second half of this year, and voiced confidence that the momentum would continue into next year. They added that efforts to bolster creativity, an increase in consumer spending in France and innovative categories such as ethical fashion and high-tech design are bearing fruit and keeping Paris a crucial stop on the international trade show tour.

"Fashion in France continues to put the accent on creation and, despite the strength of the euro, attendance figures increased," said Xavier Clergerie, organizer of the Who's Next and Premiere Classe contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories shows that will convene at the Port de Versailles Jan. 24 to 27. Visitor attendance from North America increased by 16.6 percent at the last session. "Labels today need to tell a story. Retailers are very well informed. They are looking for exceptional products such as ethical brands or young designers."

The Prêt à Porter, France's largest rtw and accessories trade show, which coincides with Who's Next at the Porte de Versailles, also is putting a focus on its accessories, offering creativity and eco-friendly labels with a high-end spin.

"We are introducing a new footwear category next season," said Jean-Pierre Mocho, president of the Prêt à Porter, who added that the show would increase its offering of plus-size labels, which made its debut last season.

The Prêt's So Ethic section is extending its reach into the luxury category. Eco-friendly stalwarts with higher price points, including Stewart+Brown, Katharine Hamnett and Del Forte, will be presented at the fair, while a separate luxury ethical show for higher-end brands will coincide with Paris Fashion Week in October.

"Ethical brands are getting more creative and are beginning to sell in fashionable multibrand stores. Retailers are increasing their demand for ethical high-end labels," Mocho said. "Ethical brands are not going to inundate the market, but it's a very strong category."

Meanwhile, Eclat de Mode, which specializes in costume and silver jewelry, also will convene at the Porte de Versailles on the same dates.At Première Vision, Europe's foremost fabric fair — which will be held at Villepinte exhibition halls Feb. 19 to 22, together with yarns and trimmings fairs Expofil and Mod'Amont and Le Cuir à Paris — organizers said visitor attendance from North America has remained steady while visitors from Japan are on the rise.

"We didn't lose any terrain on the international market," said Philippe Pasquet, Première Vision's chief executive officer. According to Pasquet, the show's strong momentum would spill into next season, driven by exceptional product offering as well as Première Vision's position "at the top of designers' lists" when it comes to fabric shows across the map.

According to Pasquet, although the economics of the ethical textile category don't equal the throng of media attention, it remains an increasingly important category at the show. "It's not just a fashion trend," he said. "It's a real movement that is following more environmental awareness in the world today."

Running concurrently with Première Vision, Texworld, a fair organized by Messe Frankfurt featuring less expensive textiles, will show its offering at Le Bourget exhibition hall Feb. 18 to 21. Organizers plan to continue emphasizing its finished product section as well as trimmings and other accessories.

At Tranoi, the edgy fashion fair that will be held at the Bourse de Commerce, Avenue Montaigne and Palais de la Bourse Feb. 28 to March 2, accessories also will be in the spotlight. The boutique show, which boasts a plethora of emerging designers as well as luxury brands, will regroup its accessories under one roof at the Bourse de Commerce. On the second level, in addition to established luxury brands such as Anne Valerie Hash, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Jens Laugesen, a new Atelier Créateur section will be devoted entirely to budding designers.

"Buyers today are shifting their purchasing habits. They are willing to take more risks when it comes to young designers," said Michael Hadida, organizer of Tranoi. "We put the focus on uncovering fresh talent that retailers may not otherwise have the time to find."

The Palais de la Bourse location has given carte blanche to Paris-based denim brand April 77, which will use the platform to unveil its new April Records Label, while a Japanese salon — showcasing edgy Japanese brands — will convene in the same location, as will a photography exhibit by Japanese artists.Meanwhile, at the Montaigne location, Brazilian brands will be getting special attention with a host of high-end brands such as Gloria Coelho.

Nicolas Jones, fonder of boutique designer show Rendez-Vous Femme, which runs Feb. 29 to March 3, said the show would be moving from L'Espace Richelieu to Espace Pierre Cardin. A tent in the Tuileries Gardens is also in the works. Jones said the show would continue its partnership with City of Berlin Fashion Fringe, as well as an exhibition of the recently launched book, "Young European Fashion Designers," which is filled with past and present Rendez-Vous designers.

The Salon International de la Lingerie, which will be held at the Porte de Versailles from Jan. 24 to 27, also will be getting the green treatment.

The salon's organizer, Eurovet, is considering switching to recycled paper for the event's documentation and is working on new codes of identification for those lingerie brands and textile manufacturers using organic fabrics or adhering to environmentally friendly production processes. "We're looking into ways of making that easily recognizable in the catalogue or on the salon's map," said Florence Mompo, visitor's marketing manager for SIL's lingerie division.

All exhibitors and VIP visitors to the salon also will be getting some star treatment with the salon's new free, around-the-clock concierge service, with representatives available in the show's VIP room or by phone.

"The idea is to relieve visitors and exhibitors of all of those little things that can waste time, from missing elements needed to set up the stands to getting a broken heel fixed or reserving a restaurant," said Mompo. "We aim to provide a more personalized approach to service."

Franchises will be one of the main talking points at the salon, with a number of conferences lined up on the subject as well as consultants on hand to advise visitors and exhibitors alike on new methods of distribution.

"We'll be highlighting all those exhibitors open to new franchise opportunities with the idea of encouraging alternative distribution channels," Mompo said.

Meanwhile, a handful of smaller fashion trade fairs throughout the capital also will take place around the same time as the runway shows. Workshop Paris will be held at Le Cercle Republican and Hotel Regina Feb. 27 to March 2, while Paris Sur Mode, to be held Feb. 29 to March 3, will pitch tents in the Tuileries Gardens to join Atmosphère d'Hiver and the second session of Premiere Classe, and the Vendôme Luxury Trade show will be held concurrently at the Ritz Hotel and the Park Hyatt Vendome. Le Showroom will occupy Espace Richelieu Feb. 27 to March 2.

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