With Who’s Next, Parisian fashion world fêtes return to physical events
Saying the event is eagerly awaited is a euphemism. Nearly a year after a truncated physical edition was held at the Jardin des Tuileries in the heart of Paris - quite an organizational feat - just before the second lockdown in France, the Who’s Next show is about to be staged in the French capital once again. At 9.30 a.m. on Friday, halls 5 and 6 of the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre will finally welcome exhibitors, suppliers, retailers, buyers and sales staff for in-person meetings, after more than 18 months of constant turmoil caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Of course, doubts still remain about the health of the global economy and of the fashion industry in particular but, while visitor numbers as in the event’s boom years aren’t to be expected, the success of this autumn 2021 edition should be measured by the participants’ willingness to meet up and do business together.
“We are set to welcome more than 700 exhibitors for this edition,” said Frédéric Maus, general manager of show organiser WSN Développement. “We are happy because there will be more than 250 brands that have not exhibited in recent seasons, and are looking for visibility. Of course, the number of international exhibitors will be limited, but we’ll still welcome several Russian and Turkish brands that have made arrangements to be here. Visitor-wise, we are missing the bulk of those coming from distant countries, but we have attracted a good number of Europeans. Above all, we are seeing that brands and visitors are keen to meet up again in person, something they have not done for a year and a half,” added Maus.
The Who's Next show will be held in its usual format for ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories brands at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, in halls 5 and 6, with a central area dedicated to live events themed around the concept of the roller-coaster, also the venue for the celebrations planned on Saturday. This season, Who’s Next will showcase collections by established brands like Grace et Mila, Kujten, La Petite Française, Leon & Harper, Banana Moon, Deeluxe, Chloé Stora, Emile et Ida and NotShy, though some signature names will be missing. The organisers are also focusing on Impact, a section dedicated to ethical and sustainable initiatives and products. Located in hall 6, Impact will feature a selection of new names, like 1083 with its made-in-France jeans, the sustainable collections by Noyoco, Armor Lux’s marine sweaters and Scandinavian label Knowledge Cotton Apparel.
During the summer, WSN Développement also added jewellery show Bijorhca to the event, in a new format for this autumn edition. Traffic will instead showcase solutions and services for fashion companies. Beachwear and lingerie brands will feature at the Exposed trade show, presenting among others the collections by Girls in Paris, Maison Lejaby, Mina Storm, Sans Complexe and Khaven.
The organisers, keen to bring an influx of fresh blood to Who’s Next and its related events, will introduce some 40 emerging labels, identified through a collaboration between crowdfunding platform Ulule and Who’s Next. In a spirit of discovery, the Première Classe X Eyes on Talent prize has been created to recognise “a look, concept or accessory created during this period and that, in a few years, will bear witness to our times.” The Parisian event will also host a selection of beauty and lifestyle exhibitors, a way to underline the concept-store vibe sought by the organisers.
Visitors are looking for variety, according to Maus. “After a time in which [retailers] have worked with established partners, they now need to renew their range. They are keen to unearth hidden treasure,” he said. With its established players and 250 newcomers, Who’s Next intends to help them find such gems.
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