PARIS — Following a strong January edition, March proved a calmer, more complex season for the main trade shows here: Tranoï, Woman, Paris sur Mode and Vendôme Luxury.
Attendance was down by 9 percent at Paris sur Mode, leading organizers to “rethink” the show in terms of dates and content, said show director Sophie Guyot.
Organizers of the Woman show observed buyers had already used up most of their apparel budgets on January pre-collections. With timing issues also impacting the October shows, the event plans to add a coed section to its Man show in June, according to co-director and founder Antoine Floch.
The new format will feature some 35 women’s and coed brands added onto roughly 70 men’s collections. WSN Développement, the owner of Paris sur Mode, also recently announced its own hybrid show for June.
The team running Woman and Man has “experienced an undeniable disruption in the current calendar,” the organizers said in a statement. The September-October edition has “suffered due to an overall drop in main collection budgets and an absence of motivated buyers….This new approach acknowledges the changes in the market,” they added, referencing the June proposal.
Tranoï, which shows women’s pre-collections in June, recorded “stable” attendance in March, and is developing an online trade show to complement its physical presence. The finalized digital platform will launch in September.
Buyers at the shows also discussed adapting to online competition. One key strategy has been to intensify their exclusive and unique product offering. However, the approach has drawn retailers away from traditional trade shows, where lesser-known new brands are harder to find than in the past, as they increasingly opt for cheaper distribution via digital campaigns, sales and physical showrooms.
“The trade shows used to be the places to go to find new brands,” said Daria Yadernaya, buyer for the Russian agency Y for Buy, which handles about 49 shops.
Everybody is looking for “a new, fresh name that’s going to give a new twist to the existing trends, but this is something I don’t see at the shows anymore,” she said. Instead, shows “have become places to find the same brands every year. So it doesn’t make as much sense to go if you can just meet with your brands elsewhere.” Yadernaya made an exception for the Woman show, which she felt was “more fresh and new, with a better selection.”
Others said the large shows were helpful. Simon Burstein, founder of women’s concept store The Place London and former chief executive officer of London retailer Browns, said trade shows are “a very good meeting place…The talent is there. Alexandra Senes, you need to know her,” said Burstein. “People like that make a difference.”
Senes’ brand, Kilometre Paris, “is all about storytelling, stories about the most unusual places she goes to,” expressed through hand-embroidery on mostly vintage clothing, said Burstein. The brand has exhibited at trade shows in the past, but in March showcased one design at Paris sur Mode: the “All Over Paris” blouse, with embroidered portraits of Parisian personalities. The main collection stayed in the brand’s showroom.
Jill Donnelly, owner of the Seattle-based boutique Baby & Company, discovered Ibrigu, specializing fine tailored coats made of vintage fabrics from the Silk Road. “He’s such a treasure,” she said of Italian designer Franco Armilla, who showed at Tranoï.
Donnelly said her quest for uniqueness was magnified due to the debilitating price reductions offered on designer products sold on Farfetch. As a result, she has had to stop carrying brands who can’t control pricing on the online giant. Several others reiterated those views. Boutiques are in a “David and Goliath” battle against Farfetch, said Donnelly.
“So you have to find something that’s so special and so unique that it’s not even on Farfetch,” she said. Farfetch doesn’t “see how they’re killing the market spirit and they’re not really following by the rules,” she added. “How can we compete?”
Major trends included reviving endangered, ancient crafts with contemporary design; oversized silhouettes often interpreted as a response to the #MeToo movement; the Seventies; printed velvet; color and sparkle, and faux fur.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SHOWS
Brand: Luna Del Pinal
Designers: Gabriela Luna and Corina Del Pinal
Inspiration: For the latest collection by the two-year-old brand, the designers continued to draw inspiration from traditional Guatemalan weaving techniques and the boldly artistic fabrics the brand designs. “We make thousands of fabric samples, and then start shaping the collection from there. We’re trying to introduce artisanal weaving techniques in a new way, and bring it into high fashion,” said Luna, who is from Spain. Del Pinal is from Guatemala.
Key styles: “Big, powerful” deconstructed coats referencing the Eighties are a favorite, and best showcase the singular hand-woven, crocheted and embroidered textiles by the brand. Extra-long pants are tied and bunched at the ankle, to show off the unusual texture of the fabrics, and fit high at the waist. Recycled denim is used in many products.
Prices: From £230 to £2,900.
Brand: Mii Collection
Designer: Lucie Bourreau and Bapan Dutta
Inspiration: A ski trip was the central theme for the first winter collection by the French and Indian designers based in Brittany. Like classic children’s books, each collection starts with Mii Collection going on an adventure. Five years ago, these textile and clothing designers began creating scarves with artisanal techniques, resulting in unusual, cheerful mixtures of materials and motifs, reflective of the designers’ dual cultures. They work with Indian artisans to “bring value to these crafts that are disappearing all over the world, in favor of cheap, quickly made products.”
“We really like their spirit. This was really love at first sight,” said Marthe Desmoulins, buyer for HP France. “And what’s great is to sense the mixture of both of their cultures. These are people who travel, who tell a lot of stories. I’ve really fallen for it.”
Key styles: Blouses embroidered with thick yarn give an alternative, faux-jacquard impression that uplifts the widespread use of embroidery and mixed material techniques. Silhouettes are mostly cut in simple forms, with models that can be tied on to fit various sizes. Garments are made of cotton, khadi, silk, linen, wool and cashmere, and almost every item is handmade at every stage of production.
Prices: From 150 euros to around 400 euros.
Designer: Sanchita Ajjampur
Inspiration: For her first winter apparel collection, the Indian-born, Italian textile and clothing designer said, “when I look at design, I look at it from the feet. So I do my collection from the feet that grow upward.” Ajjampur also designs shoes, which she likes to stack high “like cakes.” “My concept is like a plant, because I think that human beings grow and evolve…I watch a lot of videos of plants growing, and I look at cacti growing and flowers blooming, and what happens to them throughout the season.”
“I like the idea of the hive, and harmony in nature. It’s a holistic attitude. It’s not fast fashion. It’s very slow” and harder to copy, she noted.
Sanchita is part of the sustainable textile and clothing manufacturer BeeLuxe, founded by Ajjampur and based in Italy and India. The company specializes in heritage dyeing techniques, embroidery, tactile textiles, shoes and more recently, soft tailored apparel. All fabrics are sustainably produced and handmade.
Silhouettes are kept simple “so the forms are not the protagonist,” said the designer, who prefers “experimenting with fabric.”
Key items: A mix and match including vibrant colors, indigos and pomegranates on felt and velvets, prints using wood blocks and tribal clamp dyes, are balanced with shimmering sequin-embroidered ironic figures, to name a few. A lot of layering of items, and lighter outerwear is designed for a person “on the go.”
Prices: From around $90 for a top up to $370 for a coat.
Designer: Elena Poprotskaya
Inspiration: This is the third collection for the Russian designer of functional, chic urbanwear. The innovative Japanese and Swiss fabrics preferred by the brand don’t wrinkle and can be machine washed, while remaining soft and breathable. The silhouettes have a fresh, elegant edge, successfully combining form and functionality for convenience, especially while traveling.
Key items: A lot of garments can be transformed, portions removed, tied and worn differently. A long coat can be made short, a jacket crosses and ties in the back, or front. An elegant, flowing hot red coat is the perfect travel garment for a working woman.
Prices: From 400 euros to 450 euros.
Brand: Katya Katya
Designer: Katya Shehurina and Marina Kvasova
Inspiration: Delicate floral motifs inspired the new “Wild and Bloom” collection by the designer duo based in London, and originally from Latvia. New hand embroidery and pleating techniques on lace, as well as Swarovski embellishments and velvet belts, were introduced.
Thoralf Wollgast, co-owner of the family run store Tempel in Hamburg, liked the collection because it “looks young and fresh. Most evening dresses are a little too ladylike, and lack that fresh feeling. Nobody wants to feel old in a dress.”
Key styles: The lightweight feeling of sheer tulles and chiffon, with the dramatic ruffles on dresses that were not heavily structured, give a lightness and unusual edge to traditionally stiff formalwear. The color palette included pinks, soft blues, nudes and blush.
Prices: From £600 to £1,000.