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As brands and retailers seek ways to increase relevancy and further differentiate themselves from their competition (as well as Amazon), fashion trade shows are responding by offering new resources and serving as venues to inspire and equip companies with improved market insights.

There’s also greater emphasis placed on the global opportunities of the fashion apparel space. And “innovation” will have a clear role to play this coming year.

For example, as international trade show firm Messe Frankfurt prepares for the winter edition of its upcoming New York event in January, Texworld USA, the company said it focused on innovation as the primarily pull for exhibitors and attendees.

Jennifer Bacon, the show director for fashion and apparel at Messe Frankfurt North America, told WWD, “The current retail climate has been tough with so many businesses closing, so now more than ever brands and retailers need to be up-to-date on what’s new and relevant. At Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA, we offer hundreds of suppliers showcasing their new and innovative products. One can find and source a new fabric or garment supplier, be inspired by innovative techniques, and we are also a great information resource.”

Bacon said Texworld USA plans to showcase a “Tek-Tiles” exhibit from the BF+DA, which will display a collection of smart fabrics for attendees interested in pursuing wearable technology. And the revival of denim is another important component to this year’s event.

“In the winter edition, our ‘Spotlight’ is on denim,” Bacon said. “When the ath-leisure movement started a few years ago, the denim market dropped. In the beginning of this year, there was a spike in denim sales, showing consumers had gone back to the old classic. At each edition, Texworld USA Spotlight is centered around fabrics that are making an impact in the market that season, so for our winter edition, 2018 we are focusing on denim because of its important role in today’s market.”

And international fashion trade show firm UBM Fashion caters to retailers seeking distinctive products and resources. Mike Alic, the managing director of UBM Fashion, told WWD that the company is slated to deliver a variety and high number of brands that will aid retailers in building “unique assortments in their stores,” for both digital and physical spaces.

“Even with all the exciting changes in retail and the emergence of online channels, wholesale remains the dominant way fashion products get to market, and there are great, independent multibrand fashion retailers thriving all over the country,” Alic said.

Coterie, Spring 2017 fashion trends

UBM Fashion’s Coterie trade show.  Don Stahl

UBM Fashion’s portfolio of resources includes a year-round digital wholesale marketplace called ShopTheFloor, a digital platform that connects brands and buyers. Its platform “extends its reach throughout the year, beyond the physical event,” according to Alic, enabling shoppers to buy wholesale collections online. Access to ShopTheFloor is inclusive of each customer’s participation in its shows.

Alic said the firm also offers a retail relations concierge and matchmaking service, which “employs a dedicated team of retail relations specialists whose sole job is to help retailers find the right brands for their stores, and to help brands find the right retail partners for their lines.” The company said the service is wholly unique in the trade-show industry.

Meanwhile, as a response to consumer demand, Messe Frankfurt and UBM Fashion are expanding their global presence to cater to the growth and potential of new international markets. Messe Frankfurt, for example, plans to home in on Africa’s various textile regions and further extend its network.

Olaf Schmidt, the vice president of textiles and textile technologies at Messe Frankfurt, said the firm “will extend across important textile regions in Africa and encompass the leading trade fairs on the emerging continent. With our commitment to Ethiopia, South Africa, and in the future, Morocco, we have created excellent conditions to support the positive developments in Africa’s textile industry.”

Bacon told WWD that Messe Frankfurt’s increased involvement in textile-related business in Africa, namely adding Maroc in Mode and Maroc Sourcing to its network, will strategically expand Messe Frankfurt’s portfolio of textile trade shows. “Demographic changes, increasing urbanization and shifts in economic forces are promoting the growth of the African economy and having a significant impact on the textile industry,” she said.

And UBM Fashion’s expansion to Japan signals its significant growth stemming from key international markets. Alic told WWD, “In addition to attracting thousands of international brands and retailers to our shows in the U.S., we now also have MAGIC Japan, which will take place for its third edition in Tokyo April 25 to 27. That size and reach also makes it possible for us to provide services that go far beyond the typical trade show, to help our customers succeed.”

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