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Premier Vision CEO Phillipe Pasquet Expands on China Plus, Luxury Brands, and Fast Fashion

Premier Vision NYC, a major North American fashion fair, brought suppliers, brands, and designers together under the same roof for several days of networking and sharing ideas. Sourcing Journal had an opportunity to sit down with CEO Philippe Pasquet and ask him a few questions about sourcing, fashion, and how they will intersect in the future.

Pasquet started by urging firms and buyers to diversify their sourcing strategies. “There is no longer one single business model or one single sourcing solution,” he said.

China Plus (sourcing from China and one or two other countries) is important, but can oversimplify the range of strategies firms need, he continued. A modern fashion company will use high quality quick turn products (fast fashion) to lure people into the store. They will then make money from non-discounted purchases of brand new fashion items, and also make money from the same customer who will usually pick up a few cheap, mass produced staple goods.

This strategy is predicated on a multi-prong sourcing plan, he explained. On one hand, firms need to cultivate relationships with manufacturers with excellent speed-to-market. On the other hand, they need relationships in many different longer lead-time countries to provide the low cost staples. On the back end, firms need in-house designers who are able to cook up new looks every couple of weeks. Premier Vision specializes in that step, helping designers pollinate each other several times yearly, to keep their ideas fresh and contemporary.

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Pasquet explained that major American companies are rarely in evidence at his fair, because they tend to underinvest in R&D, particularly when compared to their European fast fashion counterparts. In contrast, Chinese firms invest heavily in R&D, but are also mainly absent from PV despite their huge global presence. This is because their designs tend to be highly derivative, and do not reflect the high fashion sensibilities of the fair.

Firms that are fashion forward are reaping the benefits. “There is a shift in the market at the moment from medium high to luxury as consumers invest in fewer goods of higher quality.”

As the luxury market grows, it becomes less of a niche for textile companies. Having a luxury line is no longer just about image – it is possible to do a high volume, high quality business. “Orders are good,” he says. There is also a boom in licensing control, with major luxury labels identifying emerging markets as potential growth engines, and trying to crack down on over-licensing.

Even though times are good, he says, “Brands without accessories are struggling.” Accessories allow a customer to get in on the ground floor of a luxury brand, making them more likely to save and invest their money in a major purchase in the future. Luxury growth, and the growth of emerging markets, is pushing Premier Vision to expand. The firm recently started Premier Vision Brazil.

Firms hoping to attend the fair need to redo at least half their line every season. Pasquet says, “If your business is about making commodities, in the age of the Internet, you don’t need a show,” he said. “For this, new ideas, new visions, added volume, you need to be able to see it and touch it.” Premier Vision shows are about sampling, which is not invoiced or tracked, making it difficult to measure the total commercial output of the event. But the pollination can be fruitful. “This is the place where Paul Smith discovered stripes.”

A high fashion fair is different from other shows, according to Pasquet. For example, he says, “We are the only show with a permanent fashion team.” It is necessary in order to evaluate the submissions of firms and designers.

Phillipe Pasquet and Premier Vision’s have a prescription for success in today’s shifting sourcing landscape: A strong multi-pronged sourcing strategy, paired with investments in R&D and a commitment to original, frequently refreshed designs will boost profits, reputation, and orders.