UNITED BANNER FOR U.K. FAIRS

Byline: Caroline Cambridge

LONDON — EMAP Fashion is now the only game in town when it comes to Britain’s major trade shows.
The British publishing and exhibitions company acquired the Premier Womenswear and Kids shows last year from Miller Freeman to supplement its existing 40 Degrees and Pure exhibitions. EMAP now wants to leverage this strength to maximize the success of each show.
In London, EMAP has combined 40 Degrees and Pure in the same venue to attract the most buyers. Both shows now will take place at the Earls Court exhibition center Aug. 20-22. On the same site will also be EMAP’s other London show Level 2, formerly the MXL men’s wear show, which has been renamed and expanded to include both women’s and men’s wear.
“The great thing for buyers is that it’s all under one roof,” said Lucy McPhail, event manager for 40 Degrees and Level 2.
Level 2, in addition to adding women’s wear, has “become more grown-up,” McPhail said, adding it’s now intended to “bridge the gap between core youth streetwear and older, more sophisticated casualwear.”
EMAP Fashion still is finalizing the exhibitors’ list, but it includes such brands as InWear/Matinique and RedGreen.
The launch of Level 2 is meant to bolster the “hard-core edge” of 40 Degrees. Some of the more commercial exhibitors previously included in 40 Degrees will now move up to Level 2 “as the brands grow up,” McPhail explained.
“The other nice thing is that some brands are coming back to the U.K.,” she added, pointing to Lambretta and Travel Fox, which used to show at 40 Degrees and will return to Earls Court as part of Level 2.
“The new focus tightens what 40 Degrees does best — young branded streetwear,” with such new brands as Kitty Kalloo, Blend of America and Seal Kay.
McPhail said the overall aim of the new setup, as well as making the buyer’s job easier, is to “maintain the atmosphere that makes 40 Degrees so fun,” with its loud music and catwalk shows. Level 2 will provide a slightly “less manic” atmosphere upstairs for more sophisticated lifestyle brands.
While the changes at 40 Degrees, MXL and Pure stem partially from EMAP Fashion’s acquisition of the Premier exhibitions, held at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, executives said they also reflect the changing demands of buyers.
“Market trends increasingly show crossover in the buying of men’s wear and women’s wear,” said Neshat Ahmed, EMAP Fashion’s deputy managing director.
“Already 30 percent of the Pure audience also buy men’s wear, 66 percent of MXL’s buyers buy women’s wear and some 82 percent of the 40 Degrees audience buy men’s wear, while 75 percent buy women’s wear. Each event will continue to build on its own distinct identity, and the co-location of our events in one convenient London venue, with over 1,500 brands representing the total market trends, will ensure London offers one of the most influential buying experiences of the season.”
But it isn’t only the London shows that will be changing.
EMAP Fashion promises an upgraded and reorganized Premier, but details weren’t available at press time. The reorganization is aimed at strengthening the U.K.’s largest exhibition of mainstream and commercial collections.
EMAP Fashion’s acquisition of Premier last season brought to a close a battle between it and Miller Freeman for supremacy of the British fashion exhibitions scene.
While 40 Degrees has been successful almost from its launch, EMAP has found it harder to establish Pure on the exhibitions calendar. It initially started Pure as a London-based, more high-end alternative to Premier, claiming that buyers didn’t want to trek to Birmingham to see the new collections. It wanted to lure bridge labels to Pure, believing this would attract more international buyers.
The difficulty for EMAP was that there aren’t many bridge labels in the U.K., while many mass-market and international collections continued to prefer Premier. As a result, Pure struggled to carve out a niche for itself against Premier and such Continental European exhibitions as Igedo and the Paris Pret-a-Porter.
Premier, meanwhile, remained a favorite of buyers from northern England and Scotland, who found it easier to travel to Birmingham than to London. But the show failed to grow substantially in the competition with Pure and as a result of the lack of international interest. Miller Freeman sold it as part of a restructuring of its operations.