Paris Fairs Spring Forward

Shows move up on calendar for better compete.

The next edition of the multiplatform Who’s Next Prêt à Porter Paris opens June 30.

PARIS — Trade-show organizers here stand united in early-bird mode for the second half of the year.

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Notably, next month will see the inauguration of the earlier-positioned spring-summer 2013 edition of the Who’s Next Prêt à Porter Paris salon. Positioned historically on the first weekend in September, the show has been brought forward to June 30 to July 3 to fall between the men’s ready-to-wear and women’s couture runway shows here.

The move mirrors that of local lingerie salon Mode City, which saw double-digit visitor increases from several international markets for the first edition of its earlier-positioned show last July, after more than 30 years of September shows.

“Of all the capitals, Paris by calendar is now in first position for the presentation of the spring collections,” said Pierre Gendrot, director of coordination for Paris Capitale de la Création, the collective that groups the French capital’s leading trade shows and events in the fashion, accessories and design domains.

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Last July, Mode City saw a 23 percent uptick in foreign visitors to 75 percent compared with the previous September edition. With the new slot, foreign visitor numbers look set to continue growing, which according to Séverine Marchesi, exhibition director for Mode City, is exactly what the brands want.

“In this challenging period, brands more and more are turning to us to help them develop export, with international growth more important than ever,” said Marchesi, who also noted a marked increase in American swimwear brands, such as Luli Fama and Vitamin A, headed to the next show.

Who’s Next Prêt à Porter Paris hopes to grow its proportion of foreign visitors to the event to more than 50 percent of total numbers within two years, up from around 35 percent. Around 2,200 brands have signed up for the show.

“We took a risk, as it has meant changing the mentality of the fashion industry here,” said Xavier Clergerie, co-general manager of the show. “It’s been a huge operation, especially for those brands used to getting their collections ready for September. They have pulled out all the stops to be ready.”

The recent fusion of the Who’s Next and Prêt à Porter Paris shows by owner WSN Development was motivated by the idea of moving forward together as a group in order to fortify the shows’ positions on the international market, said Clergerie.

“In order for brands to compete on the international scene and be in sync with buying cycles, they have to have [spring] collections ready in June,” said Clergerie, noting that amid the euro-zone debt crisis, foreign markets are proving to be a lifeline for brands showing at the event, with the Middle East, Turkey and Asia among strong markets. “It is not a crisis situation for us. The buying power has not diminished.”

As for the local outlook, the weather has played havoc with clothing consumption in France, according to Gildas Minvielle, head of the French Fashion Institute, IFM’s economic observatory, who forecasted a 1.8 percent decline in clothing sales for 2012. Having got off to a “reasonable” start in the first quarter of the year, sales are expected to slow in April, impacted by the recent onset of cold weather, he said.

“It is difficult to have visibility for the second half of 2012, but we can expect a slight improvement over the same period in 2011, which was terrible,” he added.

Following a “good” start to the year, Philippe Pasquet, chief executive officer of Première Vision, whose Paris edition will run Sept. 19 to 21, said he felt the overall outlook is positive for the textile industry, though things could slow toward yearend.

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“We sense that directors of luxury brands [in Europe] are starting to be more prudent for the end of year,” he said. In terms of markets, Pasquet said the picture is “extremely contrasted.” Things are “very difficult” for certain mature European countries, such as Italy, where the majority of PV’s exhibitors are based, while emerging markets continue to power growth, and Japan is “somewhere in between,” he said. Though those Italian weavers catering primarily to their local market are facing difficulties, export continues to be the lifeline for many weavers, including indirectly as suppliers to international brands, he said.

PV has two major launches lined up for the second half of the year: Denim by Première Vision Asia and Knitwear Solutions, a new section in Première Vision geared to the flatbed knitting sector that will debut in September. Pasquet said he feels the space completes Première Vision Pluriel’s offer as a “one-stop shopping” destination for designers. Around 30 weavers will exhibit in the space, hailing mainly from Italy, Turkey and China. Estonian knitwear designer Ragne Kikas, who won the Première Vision Award at this year’s Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, will likely exhibit in the space.

Denim by Première Vision Asia, slated to run Oct. 23 and 24 in Shanghai, will target premium denim players from China and other key regions in Asia, such as Japan and South Korea. About 40 weavers will show at the fair, including 10 local players.

The precollection bug has bitten the trade-show sector in Paris, with the launch of Vendôme Luxury Preview on June 30. Bridging the men’s shows and couture week, the five-day event, due to be held at the Hôtel de Noailles on Rue Saint-Honoré, will present pre-collections and collection previews from around 20 women’s wear brands.

There are also some venue changes afoot. Capsule has moved to the Cité de la Mode for its next men’s and women’s shows, due to run June 29 to July 1 and Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. Known locally as the caterpillar, the green building, which hugs the banks of the river Seine in the East of Paris, houses the IFM fashion school, with a number of trendy bars and restaurants to open over the coming months, such as the Wanderlust Terrace.