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PARIS — It was a quiet scene at Blossom Première Vision, the trade show targeting the pre-collections market held on Dec. 11 and 12 at the Carreau du Temple in Paris.

“Things aren’t usually so calm,” said Laurent Bové, sales manager of leather manufacturer Cuirs du Futur, gesturing to the nearly empty alleys of the textile trade show. “The French railway strikes have really affected business today.”

Traffic at the eighth edition of the show dipped from 1,100 visitors at the December 2018 edition to a mere 827, according to the organizers, who cited the countrywide railway strike, resulting traffic issues and flight cancelations as reasons for pre-checked-in visitors to postpone or cut short their visit.

The turnout was particularly disappointing given that the number of exhibitors grew 3.5 percent to 120 for this edition, in part thanks to the addition of eight new weavers and two leather tanneries. The trade show, which is targeted to the high-end luxury houses, has become for many brands the starting point for their fabric research, in this instance for spring 2021.

However, some visitors quite enjoyed the calm setting. “What I like about Blossom Première Vision is that it’s at human scale,” said Pierre Kaczmarek, the founder of edgy Paris-based ready-to-wear brand Afterhomework. “I’m able to have a quiet walk around, check in with manufacturers, look for new ideas for next season. It’s less hectic that other bigger trade shows and that really makes a difference.”

Neither Kaczmarek nor his companion that day, cofounder of ready-to-wear label Proêmes de Paris Marion Gauban Cammas, design pre-collections for their respective brands, but appreciate the timing of the trade show, which is ideally scheduled in between seasons. “It gives us a bit of a head start, because basically as designers we are always late,” added Gauban Cammas.

Seterie ArgentiÕs Premium line

Seterie Argenti’s Premium line.  Dominique Maître/WWD

Since its creation in July 2016, Blossom Première Vision prides itself in fitting in with the fashion industry’s needs.

“Pre-collections have become a huge subject for fashion brands: for some of them, they represent around 70 percent of revenue,” said Chantal Malingrey, marketing and development manager for Première Vision.

“The fashion world is currently all upside down,” she continued. “The need for anticipation is real and pushes brands to rethink their whole production mode: new product drops are injected all through the season — if it even makes sense to speak in terms of seasons anymore. There is a real need for renewal and a faster, more optimized production.”

For the exhibitors at Blossom Première Vision, this means having to be as flexible as possible when it comes to product delivery.

“One of the main things people have asked us today is how fast we can react,” said Bové of Cuirs du Futur, a leather manufacturer specializing in stretch leather, a product used on over-the-knee boots and leather leggings that is currently in high demand. “They want to know how flexible we are. We know we have to react fast: It only takes between two to three weeks to develop a product.” At other booths, some exhibitors recounted tales of fashion labels asking for new textiles to be developed a week before the actual fashion show.

Competition and time constraints have pushed manufacturers to devote special care to their existing business relations with fashion houses. “It has transformed our relationships with our clients,” said Cristina Viganò, chief executive officer of Seterie Argenti. “You need to work with them, meet with them every week, always bring new things to show them. You don’t just send samples over like a supermarket catalogue: You need to work with them face-to-face, accept their demands and always strive to create an original product that meets their standards.”

Sustainability was a key subject at Blossom Première Vision. The trade show organized a conference focused on Smart Creation Area, the section at Première Vision Paris devoted to sustainable fabrics. The aim is to help fashion brands understand all the different sustainable options that are available on every product range, while putting the spotlight on exhibitors present at Blossom who are striving to bring more ecoconscious fabrics to their range — like Seterie Argenti’s Argenti Green collection, a line of recycled polyester and viscose that debuted this season.

“The logic of responsible creation starts at the moment of conception,” said Malingrey. “Eighty percent of a product’s environmental impact starts at its creation, which means that fabric, instead of style and the overall look of the finished product, is at the core of the process.”

Lamé textiles are currently performing well for Hurel

Lamé textiles are currently performing well for Hurel.  Dominique Maître/WWD

Shine and special effects were standout trends spotted on the exhibition booths, with a strong presence of Lurex on next season’s textile developments. This trend was spotted on textile samples developed by Belinac and Hurel, two textile manufacturers based in Lyon, as well as in Seterie Argenti’s newly introduced Premium line.

“Brands are increasingly looking for iridescence,” explained Viganò of Seterie Argenti. “Brocades, lamés, polyesters with a shiny effect, or nylon threads that shift color, giving the material a plastic-like look, as if it were wet.”

According to Paul de Bermingham, sales manager at Hurel, adding shine is a way to draw the consumer’s attention to ready-to-wear, which lags behind accessories when it comes to sales performance.

“What our clients want is a good balance between quality and price: a standout textile for an affordable price with which they’ll be able to make garments that fits with their target consumers’ budget,” he said. “Luxury is doing well for sure, but it is driven by the sale of handbags and perfumes. Adding shine to a garment is a way to keep the original price, but dazzle the consumer a little bit more.”

A new exhibitor at Blossom this year was JR- Reflex, a manufacturer that specializes in reflective technology. Already an exhibitor at Première Vision Paris, Bernard Cugerone, president of the company, was invited to join Blossom in response to his company’s popularity with the luxury sector.

“Historically, reflective technology is mostly used in sportswear,” said the exhibitor, whose clients include Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Lululemon, but also Hermès, Chanel and Marine Serre.

“But in the last couple of seasons, there has been a high demand for technical materials from luxury brands,” he continued. “They use them in little touches, like a reflective lining on a handbag or a stripe on the side of a shoe. Brands come to us looking for something that hasn’t been done before, and appreciate the fact that we can tailor our product to their specific needs.”

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