PARIS — Despite smaller footprints and a continued decrease in visitors from outside Europe, especially Asia, the mood was upbeat at the recent fashion and accessories trade shows in Paris, with visitors keen to discover new brands and designers once more.
“It was a real pleasure to see the products again and meet with the brands,” said Victoria Dartigues, senior merchandising manager for fashion and accessories at La Samaritaine. “Our understanding of a brand is a lot more natural and simpler when we are directly connected with the creative director and their products. I believe that the buyer’s eye is much sharper in a real-life context than from behind a screen.”
Tranoï at the Palais de Tokyo hosted around 50 designers, with a focus on emerging talents selected in partnership with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, as well as contemporary and resort collections.
“I thought Tranoï was really well conceived, with brands grouped together by universe and category. The offer was much more curated and more qualitative,” Dartigues said.
Tranoï highlighted silhouettes by a selection of international labels from its digital platform, Tranoï Link. It also showcased the work of Alphonse Maîtrepierre, winner last month of the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris for emerging designers, and an installation by Céline Shen, a finalist for last year’s Hyères prize.
“There’s a real desire for newness,” said Tranoï managing director Boris Provost. “But it’s a season of transition, and clearly some of the department stores don’t have big budgets.”
At accessories show Première Classe, which also showcased a small selection of labels from the Man/Woman trade show stable for the second time, 225 brands were present — around half the number of pre-pandemic editions.
While neither event disclosed visitor numbers, “Given the context, it has been better than we expected,” said Frédéric Maus, general director of WSN Développement, which organizes Première Classe.
International buyers were also still largely absent, however. “Première Classe would traditionally have around 75 percent international visitors, and we’re at 35 percent, so just mechanically, footfall is down by between 25 and 30 percent,” Maus said. “The buyers who are in town have come, and people are writing orders,” he continued. “They have been playing it safe for the past 18 months, with brands and models that they knew would sell,” Maus said. “There is a lot of creativity, and there is renewed interest in the wholesale model, which had not been the priority in recent years. Many players who had launched their own retail in recent years are questioning that model, and thinking about going back to more selective distribution, and that’s good for our business. Brands can only go so far with just a d-to-c model.”
Among highlights at Première Classe was a display featuring the work of 10 African designers selected for a new accelerator program co-created by specialist investment fund Birimian and the Institut Français de la Mode, starting this month.
A bigger selection of ready-to-wear labels broadened the offer at Première Classe. Several multibrand showrooms chose to show there for the first time to tap buyer traffic in one place, rather than renting spaces elsewhere in the city.
There was also a new crop of career-change designers, for some of whom the pandemic had been an opportunity to take stock and launch a new, more creative career. At Première Classe, there were around 70 new exhibitors — around twice the proportion there normally would be, Maus said.
Looking ahead, the Paris trade shows are all looking to hone their models based on the experience of the past 18 months.
“The context has meant we have had to evolve, especially in how we accompany brands,” Provost said. “In terms of solidarity, it’s important to show that we are all in the same boat.”
“What’s expected of us has evolved, we need to offer more advisory services, to support our brands year-round,” said Man/Woman cofounder and director Antoine Floch. “We are all facing the same issues, and we want to put Paris on the move again together. It was important to stage this event together [with Première Classe] to show that we’re not in competition.”
Tranoï hopes to host a larger edition at the Palais de Tokyo in March, and is awaiting space confirmation to determine its size. (It will also host men’s and women’s pre-collections at the same venue in January.) A question mark remains, however, on plans to return to the larger Bourse venue in March, Provost said.
WSN’s fashion event Who’s Next, along with sister events Traffic, Impact and Bijorhca, will return in January, Première Classe in March, and new business-to-consumer event Drop — delayed for a year due to the pandemic — in June next year, Maus said.
Man/Woman also plans to return to a separate show in March, at Place Vendôme, Floch said, but with a smaller footprint.
“I asked all of our brand partners for constructive criticism of the show format pre-pandemic, and the main complaint was that we had got too big,” Floch said. “We are going to come back with a smaller model, with around 75 brands.”
Designers to Watch From the Paris Trade Shows
Façon Jacmin (Tranoï)
Created in 2016 by twin sisters Alexandra (the designer, who previously worked at Maison Margiela) and Ségolène Jacmin (an entrepreneur), Belgian label Façon Jacmin aims to revisit denim by giving it a seductive makeover. The collection contrasted mini and oversize proportions, and its signature pieces include denim jackets with contrasting tailored collars. Façon Jacmin has its own boutiques in Antwerp and Brussels, as well as e-commerce, and is just starting to open up to wholesale, for which its average price is around 90 euros.
Armine Ohanyan Paris (Tranoï)
Armenia-born designer Armine Ohanyan, who created her demi-couture label four years ago, describes her designs as “techno-couture” and prioritizes sustainable fabrics and techniques. Her collection was based on natural materials like denim and cotton canvas, and highlighted the pattern-making process, including raw canvas designs splashed with the graphic artworks of Kiichiro Ogawa, and the “Bâti” capsule based on a skirt co-created with Sophie Fontanel, with outsized black tacking details.
Frant Isaksson (Tranoï)
It was Marie Mallet-Frant’s and Asa Isaksson’s shared love of luxurious fabrics that drove them to launch their own brand in September last year. The label specializes in minimalist pieces in which the textile is the star, including super-soft brushed cashmere sweaters, slinky shifts made with Lyon silk and Calais lace, and leather pieces sourced in the Pyrenees. As such, providing a physical avenue for allowing buyers to discover the collection was essential, said Mallet-Frant, and reception at the show had been extremely positive. Currently available online only, retail prices for the collection range from 180 to 1,350 euros.
Newbie Claire Hirsch — a former communications and marketing executive in pharmaceuticals — was showing off her inaugural collection, a range of resortwear pieces in all-natural fabrics with a breezy charm. Her floaty skirts, dresses and tops in silk crêpe gingham came in colors that popped, and were priced from 80 to 230 euros wholesale.
Nu Atelier (Première Classe)
Former Sephora marketing executive Claire Roche decided on a career change and her desire to be creative inspired her to train in jewelry making and launch her sustainable, genderless brand last year. Made in France with solid silver and recycled gold in a sustainably certified workshop, the graphic, minimalist designs currently sell at printemps.com and in the department store’s new Boulevard Haussmann sustainable brand department, with an average retail price of 450 euros.
Cabirol (Première Classe)
Jewelry is in the family for Diane Morin — her father designed for Chaumet for many years. With her Cabirol brand, she aims to give a modern spin on the traditional signet ring, offering pieces in silver, gold and vermeil with lacquer or precious stones. She is just starting up wholesale after launching the brand on Instagram two years ago. Her simplest designs start at 145 euros, with fine jewelry pieces priced up to 2,200 euros.
Verwicht (Première Classe)
One of the young designers showing among a selection of finalists and winners from last year’s Hyères prize, Ecole Duperré and HEAD Geneva alum Eva Verwicht, who cut her teeth at Isabel Marant and Dior Homme, create leather accessories inspired by sea creatures. The brand showed a selection of bucket bags that subtly evoked the form of jellyfish or sea anemones in colors like purple and olive green. Handmade in Paris, her designs retail for between 650 and 900 euros.
Verbena Madrid (Première Classe)
The Spanish label, founded in 2017, aims to resurrect lesser-used craft techniques with its range of accessories, including headpieces, jewelry and bags. Expanding its offer for spring 2022, the brand added bags resembling tea urns made from Thai containers traditionally used for rice, covered in hand-painted leather, alongside its floral crowns and colorful raffia earrings. With retailers including Ikram, the brand’s wholesale prices range from 30 to 300 euros. “We’ve had a lot of people interested,” said cofounder Carmen Garcia. “This product is kind of festive with a happy mood, and people want something really colorful.”
Phi 1.618 (Première Classe)
After working in international law and the media for many years, Juliette Angeletti retrained in leather work in order to launch her Phi 1.618 label in 2018. Using deadstock skins from suppliers working with the major luxury houses, she crafts limited-edition bags and accessories with the Golden Ratio as the common thread in her designs. New for spring 2022 was an origami pleated bag in super-soft skin, its body made from a single piece of leather. The label has its own store on Rue du Bac on the Left Bank, and its retail prices range from 80 euros for a bracelet to 1,800 euros for the pleated design, the most elaborate in the collection.
Sy&Vie (Première Classe)
Brazilian luxury handbag brand Sy&Vie, created by Sylvie Quartara, highlights artisanal techniques like wood carving and marquetry with its fun and visually striking clutches. For spring 2022, the collection includes a black purse featuring a cat’s face in marquetry — down to the incredibly fine whiskers, models carved with scenes from nature, and more subtle designs encrusted with real leaves. Wholesale prices for the collection range from 300 to 450 euros.
Myssy (Man/Woman @ Première Classe)
With its tag line “Knitted by grannies,” Finnish label Myssy offers a quirky take on traditional woolen headwear. Founded in 2009, the company now employs 80 women to hand-make its products with super-soft wool from Finn sheep. The brand has been instrumental in creating new demand for wool production in its homeland. As well as traditional beanies, Myssy was showing several designs with wired brims for wear beyond winter. Retail prices range from 89 to 99 euros.