Who’s Next: fashion returns to Paris
Sep 4, 2023
The autumn Paris fashion event opened on Saturday September 2 for a three-day fair. Crowds of visitors flocked to the 1,200 clothing, footwear, accessories and jewellery brands in the early hours.
For this year’s event, dubbed “Back to School”, visitors entered Hall 1 at Porte de Versailles through a tunnel made of paper pellets, after skipping rope with specialists in the discipline, or doing a bit of karaoke in an American school bus. The event nailed the school theme right down to the bubble-gum-scented atmosphere. Overlooked by large paper aeroplanes, professionals were led down a central aisle dividing the space into jewellery, leather goods and textile accessories on one side, and footwear and clothing on the other.
At the end of this aisle was the Who’s Next’s marketplace, The Showp. Dominated by DJ turntables, this area also hosted the start-ups supported by the Ulule fundraising website, whose fashion and beauty offerings were a welcome break for visitors. Some of the visitors on Saturday came from Spain, Senegal and Tahiti, as explained by the Banana Moon team, who came to promote their French and international ambitions.
Visit from Olivia Grégoire
The layout and the low partitions, allowing a clear vision of the entire space, seemed to satisfy the exhibitors we met. Karim Meflah, head of the women’s brand La Petite Etoile, commented: “I think the stands are quite attractive: the brands have invested in their own distinctive style, more so than in the past, so you can quickly identify the different universes and see new things, labels you’ve never seen before.”
A back to school show held over three days from this year onwards, instead of four in the past. A change that is still being debated by the brands we met, some of whom point to prices that have not fallen. “It’s a good thing, it creates more dynamism,” explained Ninny Heide, general manager of the leather goods label Nat&Nin. “However, some of our buyers are disappointed that the show is not being held on the same dates as Maison&Objet, which doesn’t start until next week.”
Cultivating the idea of raising funds for her Mi/Mai shoe label, Céline Thomas was delighted that the shorter duration of the show will generate more traffic per day. And this, she pointed out, at a time when Micam, the Milan shoe fair, has been extended from three to four days, which she feels is too long.
“We’re from the south of France, so four days was better for us and meant we could sign more orders,” explained the ceramic jewellery brand Nach. At La Petite Étoile, it was noted that the shorter January edition had not dented the figures, and had especially boosted business on Saturdays and Mondays.
The first day also saw a visit from Olivia Grégoire, minister delegate for SMEs and trade, escorted by the presidents of the women’s ready-to-wear and leather federations: “This is a show that brings together professionals who have suffered in recent years, and who are experiencing major changes in consumption”, she explained to FashionNetwork.com. “I’ve come here to listen to these players. It’s my way of telling them that I understand the difficulties they’re facing.”
On the Sunday, most of the brands we met reported good footfall on the Saturday, but less activity on the Sunday. Claudie Fain, managing director of Derhy, commented: “Saturday was more dynamic. But it was well attended. We’re seeing a return of visitors from the Middle East and customers from overseas.”
The same is true of Barcelona-based Surkana, which is boasting significant growth in the French market. “We’ve seen a lot of French customers, but also visitors from Italy and southern Europe,” said Alex Roblès, the export director of the Catalan label, which can be identified by its prints.
Labdip, which is extending its range to include dresses and tops this season, had a great day on Sunday, but founders Johnny and Léa Wu reckon they had fewer visitors than at the previous show. The French rainwear specialist Flotte and the Hopp sneaker brand reported an increase in visitors on both days.
The show also welcomed the Indian and Ethiopian embassies. But there were also visitors from China, as this edition of Who’s Next included for the first time a “Fashion China” area featuring Chinese brands, developed in conjunction with the major Chinese clothing fair Chic. Turkey was not to be outdone, with exhibitors and a delegation of manufacturers on hand to exchange views with French brands and retailers.
Among the many eye-catchers were the ‘Docteur Love’ stand set up by ‘l’Écosystème de la Mode’ (an offshoot of the women’s ready-to-wear federation), which puts brands and service providers in touch with each other, as well as the unmissable Smiley stand and the Atelier Amelot area, where visitors could see a demonstration of printing customised motifs on items of clothing, a system already in use at Galeries Lafayette on the Champs-Elysées.
The event organised by WSN closed on Monday September 4, at 6pm. The Première Classe show at the Tuileries will run from September 29 to October 2.
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