Tradeshows in the Age of Coronavirus

As the global pandemic continues to affect the established routines of the traditional fashion calendar, for some, tradeshows go on. Far from the ‘normality’ of the usual bustling trade stands, travel restrictions, manufacturing issues and uncertainty are dampening the presence of many brands that have opted to participate this season.  

The recent Copenhagen tradeshows, CIFF and Revolver, showed just how significantly the industry has been affected. Unsurprisingly, the fairs were quiet, and many highly regarded brands such as Daily Paper, Dagmar and Designers Remix had opted not to show. Although spread across multiple venues in order to follow social distancing guidelines, there was a significant decrease in visitor numbers, with registrations down by 70%. 

For many brands it was a very different tradeshow experience. Many brands showed much smaller collections due to manufacturing restraints, while others showed previous season’s items alongside small spring collections in order to plump up their ranges. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, several brands were not sure the show would go ahead and did not show.   

As the fashion industry becomes more reliant on integrated technology and e-commerce, it was surprising to see that CIFF had taken only minimal steps to merge the physical tradeshow with digital services. For Revolver, the app and website shared minimal details of where vendors and seminars were located. Disappointingly, the talks were not made available to a larger remote audience. While the development of the phygital tradeshow has proven to be slow, a small selection of brands did opt to upload a ‘digital showroom’ to the Revolver website.  

The future of tradeshows has been in question for some time, with visitor numbers dwindling and brands increasingly deciding that the return on investment is undependable. The pandemic has accelerated the need to redesign the traditional tradeshow format. With brands and customers likely to be weary of travel and large events for some time, digital opportunities must be explored.

Update:

Premiere Vision (PV) have announced a change in direction for the September edition of the tradeshow, as updated government guidelines restrict gatherings of more than 5,000 until after October 31st. 

In contrast to CIFF and Revolver, PV are instead following in the footsteps of Kingpins and pursuing a fully digital format. We look forward to seeing how the event unfolds. 

"Suspending the physical edition of Premiere Vision Paris this September was a difficult decision, which we resigned ourselves to in light of the French government directives. However, we are fortunate to have been among the very first in this sector to invest in digital to strengthen the service we bring to the entire market and to help it make this transformation. This means that today we are able to provide concrete solutions in terms of brands’ sourcing needs, and in terms of the challenges manufacturers are facing in terms of the visibility and promotion of their creations on a global scale."



- Gilles Lasbordes, General Manager of Premiere Vision

For more information on what this means for your business, or for details of the full Copenhagen Tradeshows report covering menswear, womenswear and kidswear, contact studio@bdalondon.com