Men’s wear, unisex clothing and lifestyle sections are among the most popular new categories at trade events.

British trade show organizers are seeking to remain relevant, given the changes taking place in the industry, by adding new categories.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Unisex and lifestyle sections are two of the most frequent additions among the shows.

Acknowledging the tough trading conditions — with start-up brands flooding the market and the need for digital innovation — organizers expressed a positive outlook for the upcoming summer shows, expecting that the added features will draw new labels and international buyers.

Pure London said it would continue to develop its men’s wear category, following a successful launch last season.

“Women’s wear is always a key area for us, but as we have grown and expanded into new areas — men’s wear, in this instance — our international attendance has increased across the board,” said portfolio director Julie Conway.

London Edge, which primarily exhibits streetwear brands inspired by youth culture, will continue to promote a “Gaming & Pop” section featuring merchandise inspired by video games and pop culture, as well as another section dedicated to brands that are solely “Made in the U.K.”

“There’s definite increasing interest in the ‘Made in Britain’ concept, as well as the gaming category of merchandise,” said Carole Hunter, London Edge’s managing director. “Interestingly, the ‘genderless’ concept is unquestionably also creeping into the show. I expect to see more of this within the collections we carry.”

Scoop London is also creating a unisex area aimed at responding to exhibitors’ needs.

“Creating a new category of [genderless] or unisex clothing creates new opportunities within the industry that can only be beneficial. As with all trends, this could change, but we are now showcasing this sector as many of our exhibitors have created agender collections,” said Karen Radley, managing director and founder at Scoop London.

Bubble is tapping into children’s wear by introducing Bubble Bump in the upcoming June show. The show’s director, Lindsay Hoyes, explained the unisex trend is particularly relevant in the category.

Hoyes added that by introducing maternity and nursery brands, the show is widening its appeal, “rather than only targeting boutiques whose offer is exclusively fashion-based.”

Some of the upcoming shows will also be adding educational elements to their programs. London Edge will introduce a series of seminars, while Pure London is launching a “retail solutions” section. Conway said the feature “will help attendees improve the running of their business, both online and offline.”

Shows including Pure and Scoop will be exhibiting at new venues. Scoop is taking a hiatus from showing at its regular space in the Saatchi gallery, which has been taken over by the Rolling Stones exhibition, and moving to the Old Billingsgate Market.

Pure London is returning to Islington’s Business Design Centre that will offer increased exhibition space, 80 percent of which has
been booked.

The men’s wear showcase Jacket Required will continue to show in east London, but has been working alongside the Danish design company Ziito to introduce modern furniture that maximizes the space.

As the industry reshapes the catwalk model in an attempt to target consumers directly, trade show organizers have highlighted their advantageous position, having already been embracing this model.

“London Edge has always been a fast-response and short-order kind of show,” said Conway. “It’s a key aspect of what makes it effective.”

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