Despite a challenging economic climate, British trade show organizers are approaching the next season with an upbeat outlook.

This story first appeared in the November 11, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

While some are focusing on expansion and upgrading their show space with additional features, others are looking to fresh brands to boost numbers.

“I feel optimistic about the economic climate — it’s never going to be clear sailing, but with the right know-how, I think there is always opportunity for success,” said Julie Driscoll, portfolio director of Pure London, a contemporary showcase for fashion, footwear and accessories. “We remain connected, informed… and future-focused to be able to respond quickly to positive opportunities or challenges in our path.”

Carole Hunter, director of LondonEdge Original and LondonEdge Fashion, which showcases the alternative and streetwear market, said, “It is improving, but it possibly appears to be slower than expected. Arguably, the current situation is more to do with the shift in emphasis that’s taken place during the last seven, eight years since the crash. As I mentioned, whilst retailers have had their budgets strangled, they’ve come up with creative ways of sourcing merchandise which doesn’t involve investing money in traveling or hotels. This, hand-in-hand with the rise and dominance of the ‘social media’ generation in general, has impacted the speed at which the trade show market has recovered.”

“The industry is increasingly stoic,” said Nick Cook, portfolio director of Moda, which features contemporary and classic apparel and accessories. “The past few seasons have been challenging, but the result has been streamlined collections and increased flexibility from exhibitors toward visitors, and that can only be a good thing. The retail environment is still hugely challenging for our audience, but I think that we, and they, are really positive about 2016.”

Many of the exhibitors are focusing on expansion while introducing some focused areas that are expected to generate interest.
LondonEdge Original and LondonEdge Fashion plan to increase their venue size and introduce two new areas.

“We have plans to increase the show size by approximately 3 percent, said Hunter. “We’re introducing two new areas at the February show. ‘Made in the U.K.’ will give a dedicated platform to companies that produce in the U.K., while ‘Gaming & Pop Culture’ will host a whole range of clothing and merchandise based on gaming licenses and pop culture.”

Pure London will unveil an updated layout and launch men’s wear.

“We’re remastering the show, introducing a new layout, fresh new stand design and the launch of Pure Menswear,” said Driscoll.

Bubble London will launch a special area within the children’s wear trade show.

“This season, we’re introducing an affordable new area, Pop, to Bubble London,” said event director Lindsay Hoyes. “Comprising pop-up stands at a lower price point, it is set to give small, innovative brands the chance to participate in a major trade show.”
Moda has followed suit, rejiggering the layout for the contemporary and classic apparel and accessories showcase. The trade show will also launch an Outdoor Lifestyle area.

“The layout of Moda has been adapted to better reflect our five key product sectors,” said Cook. “Moda Lingerie will relocate to its own hall to adopt a more intimate environment. February will also see the introduction of ‘Ath-Leisure,’ a dedicated area for activewear and lingerie for all types of sports women.

Moda has also introduced unisex areas along the border of Moda Woman and Moda Gent that will allow certain brands to showcase
their lifestyle collections in their entirety without gender restrictions. In particular, February will see the launch of Outdoor Lifestyle, a unisex area bringing together collections designed with the outdoors in mind.

Pure London reported a strong spring edition in August, with an overall increase in footfall and increase in attendance from buyers and boutique owners, with global interest from China, South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Middle East. There was also growth from France and Germany. The contemporary showcase noted positive feedback from brands and buyers who have rebooked into the February show and anticipate around 11,200 visitors through the doors. LondonEdge Original and LondonEdge Fashion saw an increase in floor space of 2 percent for this last September edition and comparable attendance figures against last February.

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