PARIS — Blossom Première Vision, the trade show dedicated to pre-collections, held its ninth edition in a physical format on Dec. 6 and 7 at Paris’ Carreau du Temple exhibition space — to mixed results.
“The position on the calendar isn’t correct — it should be mid-December — especially when the first day of the show is a Monday,” opined Alvise Boniver Conte, general manager of the Esthetia G.B. Conte division of Italian manufacturer Marzotto, who said their booth had received just over half of their usual foot traffic by midday on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, traffic grew 12 percent above 2018 levels — 2019 was blighted by strikes — according to the organizers, with a final tally of 1,137 visitors. A majority of them was from France, but 15 percent hailed from the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Gilles Lasbordes, general manager of Première Vision, expressed his satisfaction of this edition, while acknowledging that the first day had been below expectations. “Blossom has never been about large volumes, so a solid second day can be sufficient to tip the scale,” he said.
For first-time exhibitor Bodin-Joyeux, a French lambskin tannery owned by Chanel since 2013, Europe manager Thomas Eberhard was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the visitorship, which included “major Italian houses,” he said. The company had elected to show at this “last trade show of the year, to see if it was an experience to renew” and in light of new pandemic-related uncertainties for early 2022.
Further editions of Première Vision remain slated for Jan. 18 and 19 in New York, and Feb. 8 to 10 in Villepinte for the Paris edition focused on spring 2023 textiles, which will be supplemented by a digital edition running Feb. 7 to 11.
A number of exhibitors focused on reinforcing existing relationships, like Philippe Beauvais, founding partner of Bureau Philippe Beauvais, which represents Japanese textile specialists Toki Sen-I, Mitsuboshi Keito and Taku Edge Llc. “The past years have been a catastrophe for Japanese textile producers, because no one travels and there is no contact with clients,” he said.
While business stayed flat, physical meetings revealed that “desire is there. A number of brands are on an upward trajectory,” Beauvais added.
In the alleys of the second day, traffic was brisk around lace and trim makers, while fabric suppliers saw visitors at a more sedate pace.
At ribbons and trimmings supplier Shindo, brands were most interested in quick turnaround and personalization options said the company’s sales director Kazuyuki Fujita. “They are trying to reduce the amount of production by ordering less but when they do, they need them urgently,” he said, noting that logomania still reigned.
A peripheral issue to these lower quantities was the ability to honor requests for more sustainable alternatives, which often require advance orders and hundreds of meters in quantity to be viable from a manufacturing perspective. “Nowadays, no one will buy this kind of quantity. Even the big houses hesitate,” Fujita added.
Conversations around sustainability dominated, with Beauvais and Boniver Conte both noting that certifications, labels and a clear sustainable strategy were now necessary to conduct business. “They ask the questions, so that is and will continue to be the issue in our business,” said the Italian executive.
One company who took this in stride and even welcomed the conversation was Italian wool mill Manteco. “Having an eye toward sustainable production is part of our very name,” pointed out Matteo Mantellassi, CEO of the company and grandson of the founder who got his start by recycling military blankets at WWII. “This is a particular juncture, where companies are more sensitive to the topic because they are driven by the consumer’s demand.”
To him, laws, including upcoming ones against greenwashing currently being discussed across Europe, couldn’t come fast enough. “You have to show in a very clear way what you’re selling, because [regulation] will change the textile business model entirely,” he said, standing in front of racks displaying fabrics in organic-recycled cotton blends, or wools made using their proprietary MWool circular recycling process and Recype, a color technique that reuses dyes found in the recuperated textiles.
Such evolutions were at the heart of Blossom PV’s positioning, according to the trade show’s associate director Ariane Bigot, speaking at a press conference during the show. “Creative responses emerge when faced with technical evolutions that favor fast fashion,” she said, noting that nowadays, “the sustainable offer is fashionable and no longer [looked] rustic or out of the hippy playbook.”
In addition to vibrant colors and textures that would be hard to replicate on the cheap, she mentioned biopolymers, recycled and biodegradable synthetics and sustainably produced fibers with lasting longevity as being key components of an offer where “materiality and touch are paramount to stand out.”
“The real topic is supply chain, and the opposing logics of fast fashion with luxury,” said Lasbordes, noting that “putting materials back at the heart of our industry was in the end an opportunity to address who, how and where our clothing is produced.”