Who’s Next show keen to breathe fresh energy into fashion industry
The main innovation of the Who's Next trade show, kicking off on January 18 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, is that both fashion and accessories brands will exhibit under the same banner. The event is pushing even further last season’s leitmotif, “Who’s Next, the world’s largest concept store,” and is becoming even more of a medley, jettisoning the ‘Première Classe’ denomination (which is reserved for the show's second session) and showcasing ready-to-wear and accessories exhibitors at the same time. By refashioning the buyers’ show experience to generate more surprises, the four-day event is keen to inject fresh energy into the industry.
Something which is sorely needed, after the industry was adversely hit by lower consumer expenditure in 2018, and by the ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations in Paris of the last few weeks. The climate is tense, especially for French buyers, and there are concerns about their numbers, while Paris’s recently tarnished image might discourage foreign visitors.
“We will surely be affected,” said Frédéric Maus, the show's co-director. “Yes, many French visitors won't attend; and there may also be an impact on the number of foreign visitors. And yes, the situation is difficult, but we won’t change our watchword: generate energy, look forward to the future and to positive things!”
To do so, the organisers have invested in a new setting, echoing this season’s ‘Apollo Club’ theme and featuring a festive, futuristic mood: a visual make-over, a redesigned visitor experience and a return to a more light-hearted spirit, as advocated by Maus.
“We will be staging live performances again, after we momentarily suspended catwalk shows. There will be two big evenings dedicated to them, Friday night and Sunday night. We want to make the show a genuine occasion again, a happy, inspirational breathing space in the calendar of industry professionals,” added Maus.
With approximately 1,200 exhibitors across three halls, Who's Next will enjoy a thorough makeover. The ever-present ‘Fame’ section (in Hall 2.2), dedicated to premium ready-to-wear, will change its look but stick to the usual formula, the only section to do so. The other halls have in fact been redesigned, to host accessories and ready-to-wear together in a series of surprising, new themed sections. Hall 4 will host several unexpected features, like the ‘Cosm0°s’ section, inside whose bubble-like dome exhibitors will focus on “high quality, comforting and welcoming materials to bundle up in,” and the second edition of the ‘Villa Beauté’ section for skincare and cosmetics brands.
The Who’s Next concept store approach will also result in a new edition of the ‘Fine Jewellery’ section in Hall 3. The latter will also house a new central section called ‘What’s Up’, bringing together urban and streetwear labels for men and women and aimed at highlighting current sportswear trends, with exhibitors like Saucony, Kulte, Caval, Jott, Affekt, Colmar, Buffalo and Fjällräven, some of them new entries at Who’s Next.
Still in Hall 3, another break with the traditional format with the ‘Inside’ section, dedicated to lifestyle products and conceived as a home visit, featuring homewear, home decoration, underwear and accessories exhibitors like Esquisse Lingerie, Ma Poésie and Madame Léotard.
All of them are potential range extensions for the kind of multibrand retailers attracted by Who's Next. The show will also offer its customary services to visitors, like the ‘Fashion Solutions’ meetings and workshops with seven experts - new among them is designer Isabelle Thomas, offering product range advice - as well as a series of conferences.
The show will also introduce a new financing service, while the mobile app to promote connections between visitors and exhibitors has been extended, and rechristened WSN.community. It is designed to be a global platform extending the Who’s Next experience beyond the show, notably by making its information and educational content accessible online.
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