PARIS — There were mixed reviews for the recent apparel, accessories and jewelry trade shows here, with exhibitors citing renewed energy in the fashion category at Who’s Next, while traffic was slower in the show’s accessories hall. At jewelry show Bijorhca, meanwhile, visitor traffic was stable as the event seeks to expand its international scope and focus more on trends and fine jewelry under new direction.
Both shows ran from Jan. 18 to 21 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center here.
Who’s Next was rebranded under a single show for the first time this season, designed to work like a “concept store” encompassing apparel and accessories as well as a selection of sportswear, beauty and lifestyle brands. Accessories event Première Classe will take place alongside Paris Fashion Week in the Tuileries from March 1 to 4.
Visitor numbers at Who’s Next declined 4.5 percent to 44,542 compared with last January’s edition. “We’re pretty satisfied with visitor numbers,” said show organizer WSN Développement’s general director of Frédéric Maus on the third day of the show. “Despite the current context, people have come. Physical meetings remain important. Visitors like our diversification strategy, for example with the Villa Beauté area, and the lifestyle selection, which is very relevant.”
At Who’s Next, buyers praised the Fame area, which focuses on contemporary ready-to-wear, in particular. “It’s been a little complicated, notably because of the yellow vest protestors, but it’s been very busy, and we have seen a strong turnout from international visitors,” said Sophie Guyot, Fame’s associate director. “There is a renewed energy in the collections, the brands have really made an effort, they are focusing more on fabric and construction quality, and there is a lot more color, which creates a sense of positivity. Compared with recent seasons, the collections overall are a lot more approachable, and more feminine.”
“It was all about color,” agreed Pascale Camart, Galeries Lafayette’s buying manager for women’s wear and lingerie. “The knitwear was really strong, to be mixed with fluid print skirts, with something of an easy, vintage feel.”
“There was a lovely vibe in Fame,” said Emma Vowles, creative director of Devon, U.K.-based retailer Busby & Fox. “We loved the colorful knitwear and lovely print dresses. It’s great to see dresses popular again, but really relaxed. There’s lots of color but easy color, it’s almost about wearing color as a neutral.”
When it came to the accessories offer at Who’s Next, specific trends were more difficult to highlight, given the broad diversity of the offer, although artisanal and ethnic references and lots of color were visible across categories. Many jewelry labels focused on ethnic and esoteric symbolism, with mystical motifs visible across several collections. Exhibitors bemoaned slower footfall in the accessories hall than at Fame, however.
WSN Développement has a major project in the works for September, for which it plans to occupy the giant Hall 1 of the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, Maus said.
Bijorhca, which focused on fine jewelry for the first time at its January edition, welcomed about 12,000 visitors, a stable figure year-on-year, with 27 percent hailing from abroad, and housed 273 exhibitors, including 70 newcomers. Marine Devos, who became the show’s director in December, is planning to build its international clout going forward. “It’s important to go and seek out international watch and jewelry brands and retailers,” she said. “Today, people don’t come to trade shows of their own accord — you have to seek them out.” Currently, around 35 percent of Bijorhca’s visitors hail from international markets.
Part of her remit is also offering a more forward-looking, trend-focused vision to visitors, a move initiated by her predecessor, Aude Leperre. For the first time, the trend forum at the show focused on one season ahead — in this instance, fall 2019, instead of spring. Another area of focus was upcycling and the environment, with brands offering ethical jewelry and products crafted from unusual components like building materials.
HIGHLIGHTS AT WHO’S NEXT
Label: Grace & Mila
Artistic director: Patricia Chou
Backstory & Inspiration: Created by siblings Patrick, Patricia and Julie Chou in Pantin, just north of Paris, Grace & Mila has built its business based on contemporary styling and accessible prices, and now has around 1,200 points of sale worldwide. It offers a broad collection of around 450 pieces per season on stock, allowing rapid delivery, and floaty, feminine dresses are among its bestsellers. For spring 2019, the collection on show at Who’s Next, Grace & Mila infused an oriental theme into the collection, with bright colors like red and saffron yellow coupled with animal prints and stripes.
Prices: 35 to 89 euros at retail
Label: Leon & Harper
Founder: Philippe Corbin
Backstory & Inspiration: Founded in 2010, the Paris-based contemporary label aims to offer pieces with subtle vintage silhouettes at accessible prices. It has built up a network of around 400 stockists in Europe, and has five boutiques of its own in Paris, but has yet to attack the U.S. market, where Corbin is potentially looking for a partner to enter the market in force — the label has a strong American customer base already at its Paris stores, and recently began shipping to the U.S. from its e-shop. Highlights in its fall collection included a quilted Kashmir print jacket, check wool coats and mid-length print dresses, as well as a new line of T-shirts and hoodies made from organic cotton.
Prices: 55 to 190 euros at retail
Label: Royal Me
Designer: Mariela Lopez
Backstory & Inspiration: Founded in Peru two years ago as an offshoot of Royal Knit, a company with 40 years’ experience, artisanal knitwear label Royal Me focuses on using alpaca to create a full ready-to-wear collection. Lauded for its sustainability credentials compared with comparable high-end yarns, alpaca is seeing growing interest from fashion buyers, chief executive officer and creative director Mariela Lopez said. Royal Me uses 100 percent alpaca wool or blends it with yarns like recycled PET, silk or cotton to create different hands and surface textures. The label’s fall collection is inspired by Lima’s bohemian Barranco district, which is home to many artists, and focuses on soft, neutral colors using natural dyes where possible.
Prices: 50 to 120 euros wholesale
Label: Mink Studio
Founder & Designer: Nathaniel Benayoun
Backstory & Inspiration: Founded less than a year ago, Brussels-based newbie Mink taps into sustainability and personalization trends with its upcycled jeans and denim jackets. Benayoun and his team of nine source old denim items as well as new cotton hoodies before hand-painting them with one-off paint splash motifs. The paint is then fixed before washing, ensuring the durability of the designs. He had seen strong demand at his first Who’s Next, where he was showing in the sportswear area.
Prices: 35 to 65 euros wholesale
Designer: Nilo Salvy
Backstory & Inspiration: Founded by three siblings and based in Morocco, Djebeli calls on craftspeople to hand-craft its designs that are a mix of traditional crafts and technical sportswear references, giving them a modern twist. As well as bags and shoes — platform-soled babouche slippers, hand-embroidered desert boots and boxy backpacks were among the standouts — the two-year-old label also offers ready-to-wear pieces and interior design as part of its offer.
Prices: 22 to 250 euros wholesale
Label: Karien Belle
Category: Accessories, ready-to-wear
Designer: Karien Belle
Backstory & Inspiration: South Africa-based Karien Belle, who launched her label in 2009, uses fair trade cotton and linen as the canvas for her giant limited-edition scarves, smocks and dresses with all-over contrasting embroideries of poetry and quotations and fringe details that are worked by hand in a studio employing widows and HIV-positive women.
Prices: 120 to 160 euros wholesale
Category: Leather goods
Designer: Cécile Peyre
Backstory & Inspiration: The daughter of a Normandy saddlemaker, Cécile Peyre worked in fashion with brands including Sonia Rykiel and Louis Vuitton before deciding to create her own brand and rekindle her love of leather. Alouvia was created just a few months ago, offering high-end bags and small leather accessories that are fully lined in contrasting leather with detailed finishing touches like secure catches and stitching details evocative of bridles.
Prices: Bags 390 to 660 euros at retail
Label: Lope Jewelry
Category: Fine jewelry
Backstory & Inspiration: This eight-year-old brand from Istanbul, exhibiting for the second time, offers a collection made from 14-karat gold and diamonds. Its subtle designs integrate traditional symbols like the evil eye in a contemporary way. Stockists include Beymen in Turkey.
Prices: 70 to 700 euros wholesale
Designer and founder: Laurence Soulat
Backstory & Inspiration: Stalactite’s designs are crafted by hand in a workshop in Paris’ Montmartre district using semi-precious stones, feathers, silver or gold-plated silver. The label combines modern designs with an ethnic touch, with bestsellers including its fan stud earrings.
Prices: 50-150 euros at retail
HIGHLIGHTS AT BIJORHCA:
Label: Victorian Rehab
Designer: Laëtitia König
Backstory & Inspiration: Launched in 2012 after creative director Laëtitia König came across a stock of old watch parts at a flea market and began creating jewelry by setting them in resin, her concept has evolved to incorporate real butterfly wings, beetles and dragonflies sourced from farms developing ecotourism in Peru and Asia to create a curiosity cabinet-style theme. The brand has around 40 points-of-sale worldwide.
Prices: From 12 to 59 euros wholesale
Label: Gissa Bicalho
Designer: Gissa Bicalho and José Alberto Bicalho
Backstory & Inspiration: These imposing jewelry pieces are handcrafted in Brazil, with each taking around a week to make. Founded 20 years ago under the Aramiz label, the label was rebranded a year ago. They use acrylic as their main material, mixing it with elements such as wood, metal, fabric, stones and crystals. On the brand’s stand, inspirations were diverse, from futuristic, sporty designs in bright colors to more tribal motifs and pop art. Stockists include Beymen in Turkey.
Prices: Average wholesale prices 30 to 150 euros