Paris Trade Fairs Stand United

The Paris exhibitions are betting on a new time slot and innovations to fight sluggish sales in Europe.

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PARIS — Trade shows in the French capital are bracing for a tough second half of the year, even as they shift exhibition dates for greater synergy.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“For the first three months, clothing sales in France are down four percent according to our preliminary results. March was very bad, with an 11 percent decrease, mostly caused by the bad weather,” said Gildas Minvielle, head of the French Fashion Institute, IFM’s economic observatory. “We can expect a slight improvement for the second half of 2013 over the same period in 2012, which was terrible. IFM is forecasting a decline of around 2 percent in clothing sales for 2013.”

Richard Simonin, president and chief executive officer of the perfumery chain Limoni Group, said, “The outlook is not bright. There are tough times ahead for French retailers. Consumers are more and more cautious, confidence is very low so they are reducing their spending and changing their behavior, becoming more selective in how they shop.”

Held historically in September, two major shows — Who’s Next Prêt-à-Porter Paris and Bijorhca — had been pushed forward to June in 2012 so as to coincide with the beginning of the international retailers’ buying schedules. According to the Who’s Next Prêt-à-Porter Paris and Bijorhca organizers, however, the date change had a major impact on French retailers because of the coincidence with the first weekend of the sales period in France.

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Both are rescheduled for the following week, mirroring local lingerie fair Mode City, which falls on the second weekend of the sales period in France. Mode City and textile fair Interfilière Paris are set run from July 6 to 8, also at the Porte de Versailles.

“We were down to 11,000 [visitors], from around 14,000 in September 2011,” said deputy and artistic director Richard Martin of Bijorhca Paris, as renamed since January.

He hopes the new dates of the show, which will run from July 5 to 8 this year, will help attract at least 12,000 visitors. This edition includes an exhibition of works by French designer Stella Cadente and photographer Jonathan Icher.

In spite of the date change, Xavier Clergerie, co-general manager of Who’s Next Prêt-à-Porter Paris — which includes Fame, Private, Mr. Brown, Premiere Classe, Le Cube and Mess Around — observed a trend toward buying smaller booths. Around 1,700 brands have signed up for the show.

The show attracted 47,064 visitors last year, down 4 percent compared to September 2011, with a 7.4 percent uptick in foreign visitors. It is expected that 40 percent of visitors will be foreign this year, up from 34 percent last year and 32 percent in September 2011.

“We don’t intend to move back to the September time slot,” Clergerie noted.

He also hopes that a new way to feature accessories, which represent about half of the show’s offer, will help.

“We are targeting specialty stores [of shoes, jewelry and leather goods], while we would only focus on ready-to-wear buyers for accessories in the past,” he said.

Clergerie also sees potential in the men’s wear market, with 270 men’s wear brands currently exhibiting, out of a total of about 2,000 brands. Who’s Next intends to inaugurate a space dedicated to men’s wear starting next season.

“This year, with all shows grouped at the same dates, the synergies will be an asset,” said Pierre Gendrot, director of coordination for Paris Capitale de la Création, a collective that groups the French capital’s leading trade shows and events in the fashion, accessories and design domains.

Gendrot said the June-July shows in Paris attract around 180,000 visitors and 2,000 foreign journalists, noting an increase in the number of visitors from Japan and South Korea.

“It is a plus to be all together,” said Taya de Reyniès, lingerie division director at Eurovet, Mode City’s organizer.

Mode City attracted 15,324 visitors last July, on par with 2011, with 73 percent of them foreign. The show is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, focusing on a theme of well-being. De Reyniès said Silent Assembly, a new brand by Kay Cohen, the former designer of Elle Macpherson Intimates, would launch at the show, with an upscale positioning and European fabrics.

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Other brands exhibiting include British brands Aloe and Dirty Pretty Things, couture hosiery brand Barazandeh, Miami-based lingerie brand Cosabella, lingerie designer labels Elise Aucouturier and Vannina Vesperini and Caroline Chhu, a Chantal Thomass protégée.

“Some exhibitors are doing very well because they have creative and upscale products, including from Italy, which makes up over half of our exhibitors,” said Philippe Pasquet, chief executive officer of the textile fair Première Vision, which runs September 17 to 19.

Première Vision awarded the Grand Jury Prize of the Hyères 28th International Festival of Fashion and Photography, renamed the Première Vision Grand Jury Prize this year to Finnish designer Satu Maaranen. It will showcase Maaranen’s work in Paris, and also at the Première Vision Preview show in New York, which runs July 22 and 23.

Paris shows dedicated to men’s wear will take place during the men’s runway shows. Among them, Capsule Paris Men’s, which will run from June 28 to 30, and Tranoï Homme, which will run from June 29 to July 1.

Tranoï’s shows span women’s and men’s fashions at three venues — Palais de la Bourse, Carrousel du Louvre and Hôtel Artcurial Montaigne — 300 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors, including 700 journalists are expected to attend.


The pre-collection market is developing around the trade-show scene in Paris. A second edition of Vendôme Luxury Preview is due to be held at Hôtel de Noailles, on Rue Saint Honoré, from June 29 to July 2.

“Gradually, this period of pre-collections’ presentations in Paris is part of the buyers’ planning and therefore we are expecting more and more visitors, and especially more foreign visitors,” Vendôme Luxury executive director Carole de Bona explained.

Among visitors who attended last year, she said, were buyers of Le Bon Marché, Barney’s New York and Bergdorf Goodman.

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