Rhiannon D’Averc explores a facet of the fashion industry you may not yet be aware of – and why it remains relevant in this day and age.

With all the buzz about trade shows in this issue, you might be wondering how they work and why we have so many of them. Every season, a number of big trade shows happen for industry insiders and press, which allow brands to introduce their new lines and even take part in catwalk shows if they wish to. But why does it all happen? Here’s why trade shows are still essential to the fashion industry, even in the digital age.

They allow connections to be built

One clear benefit of a trade show is that it brings a large volume of people into the same space at the same time, which means it is a lot easier for brands to make connections with the people that can help them grow.

The networking opportunities really are unparalleled anywhere else. With a stand displaying your items, a sales rep, booker, buyer, PR agent, or even influencer can walk up to you and register their interest. You can swap business cards and details, and kick off what might turn out to be a lucrative relationship.

This saves a lot of time and effort for the brand owners, who would otherwise have to entice buyers and other connections over with personal meetings, emails, and phone calls. Even if they knew where to find their contact details, it would be a long and drawn-out process which would leave less room for volume.

At a trade show, however, people can come from all around the world to find the brands they want and need. That puts owners in a fantastic position, where they can pitch their brand to a huge number of people at once.

They allow monitoring of industry trends

What are the latest industry trends? You might be able to answer that question by looking at haute couture and ready-to-wear catwalks and comparing them with what you see on the high street. There might be a few obvious answer from those data points, but the problem is that this information is already old.

Buyers in particular aren’t looking for what is popular now – they want to get the next big thing and make it available to their customers. This means that if your brand is lagging behind and hasn’t hit any of those marks, you might miss out in sales volume over the next season.

Press and other visitors use the trade shows as a way to discover the latest trends and report on them, but brands might use them as a chance to ensure they are on the right mark. If they aren’t, it might not be too late for a few quick redesigns and some pitches to interested parties – helping to salvage an otherwise turbulent season.

They offer cost-effective promotion

Alright, so the cost of exhibiting at a trade fair – especially one of the big-name ones – can be daunting. However, when taking into account the sheer number of potential opportunities present at the show, it might just work out as a no-brainer. If positioned correctly, the ROI can be massive.

Fashion powerhouses, big and influential buyers, press teams, and more are all present at these events. They are looking for the next big thing – or even something new from a familiar face. This means that the potential for sales can be enormous, and could far outweigh the cost of the stall.

Getting onto the catwalk can also offer the kind of chance for press images that is rarely found outside of Fashion Week, and at a much lower cost to boot. Running an LFW show can be extremely expensive, so much so that brands knowingly make a loss on them, but the exposure is always deemed to be worth it. That tells you something about what a catwalk show can do for a brand.

There aren’t many chances that come around with such an impressive potential return compared to the price of entry – except, of course, for advertising with London Runway (cough, cough).

They keep your brand top-of-mind

The other thing about the fashion industry is that it can be quite fickle. While many of us can remember the big stand-out fashion moments in our lifetimes (Alexander McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb show, THAT Savage x Fenty catwalk), we probably don’t remember the name of a brand that we vaguely liked last season but never heard of again.

Except we would, if we did hear from them again. That’s why returning to trade shows season after season – or at least year after year, if budget is an issue – is so important for burgeoning brands. Getting your name out there is one thing, but keeping it out there is another.

Trade shows help the industry in more ways than one. One thing is for certain, though – even in an age when we expect to do most of our communication online, there’s nothing that can replace walking up to a stand and seeing, touching, and even weighing garments in your hand. With the convenience of so many brands under one roof, it’s little wonder that it looks unlikely trade shows will go away any time soon.

Read more from Rhiannon at twitter.com/rhiannondaverc

All images via Pixabay

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