PARIS — The impact of the sluggish European market impacted budgets at recent women’s wear trade shows here, but the mood remained positive among buyers at Who’s Next and the second edition of Tranoï Preview.
Though attendance was down 5 percent compared with last year, visitors praised the animated atmosphere at Who’s Next, held July 6 to 9, which was organized around a Mexican theme and saw strong trends for spring 2014. Aisles were also bustling with an increase in mostly independent shoppers this season, due in part to later show dates.
Trends included nudes, skin and natural-toned colors on simple yet classic silhouettes for everyday wear with multiple uses. Some observers felt the fleshy colors in women’s wear were the perfect balance for a growing trend in more imposing accessories. Mix-and-match pieces and seasonless looks also offered cost-conscious solutions.
Other themes included an even stronger boho and ethnic motif than previous seasons, as well as bright prints and a touch of vintage, French Riviera nostalgia.
Attendance by major buyers for U.S. department stores, however, was in sharp decline at Who’s Next because, unlike last year, the show was held nearly a week after men’s fashion week in Paris and pre-collection women’s shows.
A Who’s Next spokesman said the show saw, “a big drop in major American buyers” to about 30 percent of overall attendees from 50 percent last year.
The later show dates were chosen to accommodate the French and European sale season, and attendance by major British, Italian and Spanish buyers was up 30 percent, said Boris Provost. Nevertheless, overall French attendance at the show dropped 7.5 percent, while 7.7 percent fewer Asian buyers were present. The French made up 63 percent of all attendees. The largest jump in visitors came from Middle Eastern buyers, whose presence was up 18.1 percent.
“Now we have to continue to develop to find the right dates to have [Americans] stay in Paris because it’s true that last year they ordered and had really found what they were looking for, and we absolutely need to earn their loyalty,” said Provost.
Still, major American buyers were not the only top shoppers who struggled with the later show dates this year.
Simon Burstein, chief executive officer at Browns, said, “No buyers were in town, everybody had already gone. I thought it was a bit strange that it was a week after the [pre-collection sales]. Had it been at the same time, I’d had my teams in Paris. They would have gone.”
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