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Spanish trade fairs adjust dates to cater to more customers.

MADRID — In an attempt to revitalize the trade fair sector, Spanish show organizers said they are adjusting calendar dates to accommodate smaller regional stores while catering to talented newcomers with innovative promotional opportunities.

For instance, the biannual SIMM show here has revised its dates to Sept. 1-3, or Friday through Sunday, instead of the Thursday through Saturday of recent editions. The Thursday kick-off date was an experiment that didn’t pay off, a spokeswoman for IFEMA, the show’s organizer, suggested.

The return to Friday will accommodate smaller retailers that prefer to shop the fair on Sunday rather than Thursday, she said. “In many cases, retailers have had to cut back on their staff due to an unsettling domestic market — and Thursday is not a convenient day to leave the store.”

SIMM will continue to promote key Latin American vendors through daily catwalk shows, she said.

According to official figures, the four-day fair drew 31,500 trade visitors in February, down marginally from last winter. Foreign participation increased slightly, to about 10 percent of the total. Citing a thin buyer turnout and less than satisfactory sales, vendors said the fair was a disappointment.

“The show was weak in terms of sales, and contacts were just OK,” said Alberto Sobrino, export manager of Fuentecapala, a better label that features traditional silhouettes and impeccable tailoring for women and men.

The second-largest apparel fair in Europe after Düsseldorf’s CPD, SIMM includes roughly 1,000 exhibitors stretched over 312,000 square feet of the Juan Carlos I fairgrounds. Both figures are similar to last September, the spokeswoman said, and 30,000 visitors are expected to attend in September, an increase of roughly 10 percent over the previous year.

Referring to current space limitations, Pola Iglesias, director, said IFEMA will add halls and revamp the distribution plan in September 2007. There will be no auxiliary exhibitions next fall, and funding usually reserved for accompanying activities will be reinvested in the new facilities, she said.

Madrid’s Pasarela Cibeles catwalk presentations, which usually run in tandem with SIMM, are scheduled for later in the month, Sept. 18-22, which is “too bad,” according to director Cuca Solana. “It’s a help to both events when the dates coincide, but the September fair is too early for Spanish designers, and then comes New York [Fashion Week].”

This story first appeared in the May 24, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The calendar is “about the same as February, without the furriers,” she confirmed, which means about 30 designers, 25 shows and a mix of Spain’s so-called “sacred cows,” including Roberto Torretta, Miguel Palacio and Elio Berhanyer, and younger talents like David Delfín and José Miro. Cibeles will be held in an annex skirting the fairgrounds’ Pavilion 1.

The SIMM-sponsored newcomers’ platform called Ego de Pasarela Cibeles, which debuted in February, will run Sept. 23-24, right after Cibeles closes. No location had been announced at press time. On opening day, eight to 10 new brands and faces will stage a grouping of runway shows, and the following day, about 30 up-and-comers will exhibit in a mini fair open to the public.

According to IFEMA, the Modacalzado (footwear) and Iberpiel (leather goods) shows, which ran in tandem March 23-25 at the Madrid fairgrounds, drew 20,065 trade visitors, a dip of almost 7 percent from last year’s winter edition. Foreign participation — 16 percent of the total — slid 3 percent. Major buying groups came from Portugal, Italy, the U.K. and Greece, and there was a “significant” retail presence from Russia and Japan, organizers said.

They blamed the decline in traffic on Asian competition and Thursday starting dates. Accordingly, dates for the two shows — known collectively as SIPIEL, or International Leather Week — have been changed to Sept. 29-Oct. 1 to again include Sunday. “Forty percent of regional stores prefer weekend visits,” said Julia Gonzalez, coordinator, “and hopefully the new dates will encourage an attendance figure of closer to 22,000.”

She added that a group runway show is being considered for the first time, “but nothing has been confirmed.”

Approximately 800 vendors — down 3 percent from September 2005 — will participate in the upcoming edition of SIPIEL.

Also under IFEMA’s umbrella, Textilmoda targets producers and buyers of apparel textiles and components. The upcoming edition, the fair’s 11th, to be held in Pavilion 2 of the Madrid fairgrounds, has changed its dates to Sept. 27-29, according to commercial director Félix Perez-Fajardo.

Because the Spanish textile industry is going through “a bad moment,” vendors are focusing on design and quality, Perez-Fajardo explained. To support their efforts, Textilmoda will continue its collaboration with the Paris fashion agency Nelly Rodi, which helps producers spot tendencies, colors and textures through fabric displays, samples and social-marketing guides, he said.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s fashion-related trade events have shrunk to two: Bread & Butter Barcelona, the Berlin-organized contemporary apparel and accessories fair, and Pasarela Barcelona, a three-day catwalk presentation by local designers. Both are scheduled to run July 5-7.

B&B Barcelona, which will host its third edition in July, has knocked the 20-year trade show veteran Barcelona Fashion Week out of the running. It shut officially at the end of last year.

In January, B&B Barcelona packed the Catalan capital’s fairgrounds with 48,800 visitors from 87 countries. Sixty-three percent were foreigners, according to president Karl-Heinz Müller, and major buying contingents came from Italy, the U.K., the Benelux countries and Germany; there was “significant” representation from the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia.

He referred to “the open partnership” between Berlin and Barcelona, “which are not classic fashion cities, but they’re similar in street life and youth culture. With Bread & Butter Barcelona, we’re after something totally new. We have our own way of doing things. We have huge public and municipal support here; we have all we need to succeed.”

A heady fun fest, B&B Barcelona features directional product offerings and its signature take on premium denim and streetwear in a rollicking commercial environment. In general, it’s considered a contacts-and-image show; orders come later, exhibitors said. According to a major industry leader, “It’s a new type of retailing. Buyers and vendors are having a lot of fun — and they’re doing business at the same time.”

July’s vendor participation is expected to be 850 brands, a 20 percent increase over last summer, organizers said, which will include expanded denim categories and the addition of a new kids’ sector, called veryKIDS, to showcase trendy girls’/boys’ apparel, accessories and infantwear.

In January, a two-day Pasarela Barcelona replaced fashion week’s Gaudi runway shows. The organizing team, led by José Maria Donat, managing director of TCN, a high-end Barcelona lingerie firm, plans to continue pumping up interest in homegrown talent, established Spanish names and newcomers, a spokesman said.

Pasarela’s July edition will tack on an extra day to its calendar to feature lesser-known names, according to a press statement, and it will be held in the port of the Barcelona Fòrum, a recently built leisure complex fronting the sea.

The same roster as at the previous edition will be on the runway, including such local heavyweights as Custo Barcelona, Antonio Miro and Armand Basi. There is no commercial fair connected to the Pasarela.