PARIS — Trade show operator WSN Developpement, which added the Sodes portfolio of events to its operations earlier this year, has announced a new format for its fashion salons from January and an earlier date for their spring-summer edition.
From January 2012 — under the umbrella label Who’s Next, Prêt à Porter Paris — the Portes de Versailles editions of Who’s Next, Première Classe and Prêt-à-Porter Paris will be grouped together in 1.3 million square feet of total exhibition space and house 2,500 apparel and accessories brands.
“The aim is to reinforce Paris’s position as the capital of fashion,” WSN general manager Bertrand Foäche said. “The rivalry between events created confusion, and this will clarify the offer.”
Positioned historically on the first weekend in September, the spring-summer editions of the salons will be brought forward to June 30-July 3 next year, to fall between the men’s ready-to-wear and women’s couture runway shows in Paris, notably in a bid to attract more international buyers.
The aim is to bring the proportion of foreign visitors to the shows up to 50 percent of total numbers within two years, Foäche said. Last January, 35 percent of visitors to Who’s Next and Première Classe were international, while Prêt-à-Porter Paris registered 39.5 percent.
“We realize that this will perturb some industry players, but if Paris is to maintain its place on the international scene, we had to bring the dates forward,” Foäche said. “The September event was condemned to lose its importance over the next few years, because international buyers have already closed their budgets by then.”
He said that lingerie show Mode City’s experience of moving forward its dates to July for the first time this year had provided conclusive evidence of this, with double-digit visitor increases from several international markets, and helped it make the decision.
Perhaps most importantly for retailers, the new format will mean a single entrance fee for visitors to all the shows, significantly reducing their costs.
From January, the events will be divided into the Fame, Fresh, Private, Mr. Brown, Le Cube, Mess Around and Première Classe sections. Prêt’s Atmosphère’s offer will be integrated into Fame; the men’s offer will be grouped together in Mr. Brown, a new section, and leather goods will be housed in LeCube, leaving Mess Around which WSN acquired 50 percent of in May entirely dedicated to footwear.
The events’ January dates, as well as its second editions in March and late September in the Tuileries gardens, which run alongside women’s ready-to-wear shows, will be unaffected.
In a separate announcement, WSN said that Sodes salon director Muriel Piaser would be leaving Prêt-à-Porter Paris, effective October 14. Piaser plans to create her own business in the fashion trade show sphere, she stated.