By  on November 23, 2005

Rival shows battle over the direction of Turkish trade fairs.

ISTANBUL — The gloves are off as two Istanbul fashion trade events go head-to-head in a February showdown amid allegations of underhanded dealings and cronyism.

Tüyap, which has hosted and helped organize the IF Istanbul fashion fair in August for the past five years, is organizing a second installment, scheduled for Feb. 9-11 at the Tüyap Fair, Convention and Congress Center, while rival fairs group CNR will put on its inaugural Istanbul Moda Show less than a week later, Feb. 16-18, at Istanbul's CNR Expo.

The competing fairs have been set up amid a clash over how to attract important foreign buyers and what one insider said was a "serious difference in vision."

The dispute became public after the powerful Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters' Association (ITKIB) withdrew its support for IF Istanbul in August, citing an irreconcilable difference in vision, and instead gave its backing for a new setup organized by CNR. At around the same time, the IF organizers announced that they were making the show a biannual event.

Choosing between the two shows has become something of a headache for exhibitors trying to juggle commitments and loyalties while keeping their costs low. The public nature of the dispute also has overshadowed the other trade events on the calender, such as the Istanbul Leather Fair (Jan. 19-21); Texgate (March 9-12), which showcases top textile firms such as Isko-Sanko; Istanbul Shoe Fair (Jan. 25-28), and ITKIB's biannual Turkish fashion fabric fairs in New York (Jan. 17-18) and London (Feb. 14-15).

Each side in the dispute accuses the other of bullying exhibitors into signing up for shows well in advance and favoring friendly exhibitors over what is best for the market.

"Eventually, the best [show] will remain standing," said Suleyman Orakcioglu, head of the Istanbul Ready-to-Wear and Apparel Exporter's Association (IHKIB), the largest group within ITKIB. He blamed the "bad intentions" of the IF organization for the current dispute, saying that it had refused to weigh the respective merits of CNR and Tüyap before deciding to stick with the Tüyap group, and scheduled its February show only after hearing that the Istanbul Moda Show was going to occur then, in an effort to stamp out the competition.

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