Who’s Next marks an attractive comeback

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Sep 6 2021

Presentations of the star pieces of the collections for the spring-summer 2022 season, clothing tests and even discussions on the number of pieces ordered. From Friday until this Monday night, the Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles has been vibrating at a pace that it has not experienced for over a year and a half. The Who’s Next show returned in physical form to Paris to present the proposals of some 700 brands in two pavilions. A first major physical event for fashion, the atmosphere and performance of which were closely watched by many players in the industry and beyond.

The entrance of Who’s Next – MD pour FNW

In fact, after months of digitization, travel restrictions, and changes in business practices, many observers wondered about the relevance of returning to business encounters. Of course, while it brought together the Impact (dedicated to responsible supply), Bijhorca (dedicated to jewelry and joined the organizer WSN Developpement at the beginning of the year) and Traffic (which offers service solutions for fashion companies). ), but also Exposed and Riviera (dedicated to lingerie and swimwear), the event had to do without a number of international exhibitors and struggled to convince some key players in the sector. It showed, despite having 250 newcomers, a significantly lower brand proposition than pre-Covid editions.

But despite this reduced format, the show managed to generate great appeal. As proof of this interest, although in recent years the sector was no longer necessarily at the center of political concerns, Alain Griset, Minister of Microenterprises and SMEs, walked the halls and met with businessmen on the opening day.

“It is a great pleasure to be able to participate in new physical events. A year ago I had already come (to the Première Classe de las Tuileries room, editor’s note) and no one imagined that after the holidays we could have such a meeting. A year ago it was worrying. Today we are in a situation in which entrepreneurs are talking about projects and the future, “he said.

Furthermore, during the show’s presentation conference, Pierre-François Le Louet, president of the Federation of women’s ready-to-wear, highlighted the brands present during these four days: “I would like to thank the brands that have decided to exhibit, to find to their customers. This is a strong signal sent to the market, “he said.

The show attracted numerous buyers who wanted to renew their offer – FNW

After three days of activity, this edition of Who’s Next has bypassed certain questions and checked the box for the relevance of its offer. First positive point, the show has attracted international visitors. “The buyers of the main exports are unfortunately absent, but on Friday we received visitors from Spain, Greece, Italy and Belgium”, listed Sandrine Amadoux, head of image, marketing and communication of the Grace et Mila brand, present in hall 6.

“In terms of visitors, we were pleasantly surprised to have a large number of international visitors. We had between 18% foreign visitors registered and on Friday they represented 27% of those who entered the show,” explained Fréderic Maus, CEO of WSN Développement , the organizer of the event, who specifies that the number of visitors is 20% lower than in the last edition of September 2019.

“But we have 30% fewer exhibitors. This gives more opportunities for the brands present to be in contact with these visitors, “he added.

Obviously, even though some lamented that the size of the hall was modest compared to the years before the Covid, this proportion met the expectations of many exhibitors.

The Impact show proposes an offer oriented towards responsible collections – FNW

“This session was an opportunity to analyze the market and how everyone has adapted after months without being able to travel,” said Kostas Papadopoulos, head of the Greek brand Access Fashion.

“In this session, however, the international clients that we meet at Who’s next are missing. So we take a smaller position. On the other hand, the French were there and we had a lot of new prospects. The digital segment allowed us to work with clients who knew us during the past period, but returning to the salons is important to know and present our quality to new clients ”.

However, this return to events has not been without some small problems. Such as the long queues at the entrance, due especially to the sanitary controls of the passes, but above all the lack of air conditioning in pavilion 5, where the Fashion Scène brands and the accessories and beauty brands were exhibited, which generated a large uproar among the exhibitors on the first day.

In fact, for specialists in cashmere sweaters or outerwear, it is difficult to test their products in warm temperatures. During the following days, as the fairgrounds had not repaired the facilities, the organizing teams covered the large windows in the hall to lower the temperatures. Despite this rarity, in general, most exhibitors were satisfied with the attendance, highlighting a good Friday, followed by a decent Saturday despite a quiet morning and good activity on Sunday. Especially in many stands, the signatures of new clients motivated the commercial teams present.

“We called each other between brands and, even if there were some absent, we told each other that we had to show solidarity and participate in the show, to show that we are there!” Said Olivier Cris, director of the Parisian cashmere brand on Friday night. Notshy, who in one morning had already signed new multi-brand clients in the region, especially in Lille, Tours and La Roche sur Yon.

Whether it was in hall 5 or hall 6, Sunday was also productive, on the side of Karma Koma in Fashion Scene or even 1083 and Olly Lingerie in Impact. “There is an influx, although less than expected. There were many more real buyers on Sunday,” said Ying Wang, CEO of Ekyog.

The same happens with the Les Tropéziennes brand, which had a location in hall 6. “We came with few expectations and it was a great show for us. We put together footwear and ready-to-wear in a stand where we made a great effort to create and visibility. And that paid off, “said Lionel Gamondes, responsible for coordinating wholesale sales for the brand, which has some 1,500 footwear outlets in France.

“We also wanted to present the ready-to-wear that we launched 4 seasons ago. And it worked well on Friday. Saturday was quiet, but for us Sunday was very good, with 16 new clients during the day “, he remarked.

At numerous stands, buyers placed orders – FNW

“We were very reluctant to participate, as we did not know if customers were coming. We came as historical exhibitors,” said Sarah Koulla, director of the women’s ready-to-wear brand Orféo.

“But we saw clients from all over France and even from overseas departments and territories. It was a good show, both in terms of contacts and billing, although we are still far from the levels of three or four years ago ”, he continued.

“For us, this edition was the best way to convince those who did not come to this edition. Some did not have a booth and came to see. And many of them tell us that they will not miss the next edition. What worked well, and validates our vision of “concept-storage” of the show, is the fact that we have mixed sectors in certain areas. It has been very relevant to have accessories alongside ready-to-wear brands whose universes respond to each other. We have also seen how Impact has grown, that it was a collective project with us and that it is finding its place. And then there is the issue of omnichannel. We have all experienced this as consumers for years. But now it is becoming B2B, and our CMPX platform will allow us to grow. It will be officially launched on November 15, but we already have 250 fashion, football and sports brands that are part of it, have joined and are beginning to integrate their catalogs. This allows you to have the time of the classroom and the power of the digital tool afterwards, “he added.

There are many elements to discover until Monday night, to definitively validate the positive aspects of this reunion around an important face-to-face event.

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