As trade-show organizers in London gear up for the upcoming season — with the majority of shows set to take place in January and February — currency fluctuations following the U.S. presidential elections and Brexit appear to be a primary concern for exhibitors.
This story first appeared in the November 30, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Karen Radley, managing director of Scoop, said one of the trade-show exhibitor’s primary concerns is inevitable price increases on their products.
“In terms of direct impact on the fashion sector, the biggest talking point since Brexit, and indeed since the result of the U.S. election, has been exchange rates and how they’ll affect pricing,” Radley said. “Obviously there are other concerns, but right now they feel further down the line. A degree of price increases here in the U.K. now seems inevitable, so the way that brands handle increases is going to be key.”
Lindsay Hoyes, events director at the children’s wear show Bubble, said: “Sterling’s falling value, coupled with a general decline in the number of independent retailers, means that brands will face tough trading conditions this season and we expect sales to be affected. To succeed, they need to have a competitive edge, and consequently, we will be helping our exhibitors to focus on and communicate the qualities that make them unique.”
Bubble plans to continue pushing its new “Bubble Bump” section, which focuses on maternity and nursery brands, following a successful launch last season. There will be a new focus on organic labels with an eco-themed installation in the works, as well as a “Homegrown” campaign that will highlight British-made collections.
Scoop also plans to focus on newness in its upcoming show, in order to support and highlight the work of young designers during this unstable economic time.
Following a one-off event at East London’s Old Billingsgate Market, the trade show is returning to the Saatchi Gallery and aims to present its collections in new ways by incorporating the gallery’s art alongside exhibitor stands.
“Despite the volatile economic and political situation, we’re actually having an increase in interest from brands new to the show and new to the U.K. market, particularly U.S.-based brands,” said Radley, highlighting accessories labels Zaccys and Iria de Ana as key new brands that will be exhibiting their product as part of Scoop.
Linda Laderman, cofounder and organizer of London’s Textile Forum, also sees opportunities arising from currency fluctuations. She expects the next shows to be business as usual, despite exhibitors’ concerns and pointed that many of the forum’s participants, such as the family-owned Bernstein & Banleys, known for its extensive collection of linings and trimmings, have started to increasingly travel to the U.S. to participate in additional trade shows there.
“Overall, Britain has always been a country that’s been subject to currency fluctuations,” Laderman said. “For the last 100 years, the currency has been up and down and it’s just something that you have to live with. Yes in the short-term, someone can calculate that they might have spent 15,000 pounds more or something cost 15,000 pounds more, but it’s something that they’ve got to get over.
“The other thing is that when you’re selling fabric at quite a high price, if you have to increase it by 5 or 10 percent, in real terms it’s not a lot. So in reality, there’s a lot of noise out there, but I don’t think you’ll find anybody that’s actually negative about it.”
London Edge’s director, Carol Hunter, said, “We’re an international show and our exhibitors from overseas are currently benefiting from their product costing significantly less. This also applies to overseas retailers buying from U.K. exhibitors, so we expect more overseas exhibitors to be interested in showing,” adding that footwear and accessories brands are among the show’s top performing.
London Edge has also revealed the Business Design Center, in North London’s Islington area, as its new permanent venue and plans to launch its own awards ceremony for participating brands next year.