The Première Vision New York show, just like other trade shows and businesses in today’s rapidly changing and volatile commercial climate, needs to adapt to survive.
Guglielmo Olearo, Première Vision S.A. international exhibitions director, said in an interview at the end of the two-day PV New York fair at Pier 94, “We are still continuing on our strategy that began two years ago which is to focus on sustainability and supporting the local community for manufacturing and young designers.”
This includes the work of this season’s PVNY brand ambassador, Ramon Martin from Tome, who presented several outfits created exclusively for the show using eco-friendly fabrics manufactured in Italy by Subalpino, and manufactured in New York. The collection is also designed to magnify positive images of women, through diversity of age, race and body shape.
“What’s most important is that everything is sustainable, particularly the materials,” Olearo said.
Also included at Première Vision this time, was a section devoted to companies and designers that are part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, which provides grants to New York production facilities to upgrade equipment and technology, offer employee skills training, hire business development consultants, make capital improvements to their facilities and cover costs of relocating within New York City.
“The fashion world is changing, it’s still questioning itself to find the right model, the right way of running a business for the future, but also running the right business to keep customers,” Olearo said. “Today in America and Europe, it’s extremely important to communicate to consumers the value of a brand, whether that’s at the retail level or on a brand’s web site or social media.”
For example, environmental and climatic issues are on the minds of consumers, particularly the younger generation, Olearo noted, and “fabrics and garments may be responsible for such climatic changes,” either in the way they are manufactured, the materials they use or the longevity of the clothing and the way it’s discarded.
While all agree it’s important, sustainability is still a touchy topic for many in the industry, whose products may not meet everybody’s standards. This is true when it comes to both materials and manufacturing methods.
“What’s sustainable for one may not be sustainable for another,” Olearo said. “Some company may become more sustainable in their dyeing methods or water consumption, or in the way they treat their workers and factories,” though their materials may not be what some consider sustainable, he said.
The real problems in planning for the future, however are the uncertain retail and trade climates, Olearo said.
“When we look at 2018, it was a good year, but tough at the end, globally speaking,” he said. “When we look at the market for fashion, 2019 will be very tough. It you look at the global market economics, they are OK, but not great. If you look at the geopolitical situation, it’s extremely unstable all around the world. When you see instability, that leads to lack of trust, which leads to lack of investment.”
With those factors in mind, Olearo said the expectations for fashion and trade shows like Première Vision have to be adjusted.
“We hear it when we have discussions with our exhibitors” that their plans have been diminished, he said. There are shifting consumer shopping patterns like e-commerce and buying closer to seasons that makes planning more difficult and impacts sourcing and the whole value chain.
In addition, fashion is no longer at the top of the list for disposable income like it was some 20 years ago, having been surplanted by food, well-being, electronics and travel. “Fashion is still a huge industry, but the models have changed and companies have to figure out the best way to deal with them,” Olearo said.
So does PV, he noted, which apart from creating a place for exhibitors and visitors to come together and do business, the trade show’s leaders are still making investments and question themselves about the right format for the show.
“Perhaps the show in the future has to be more interactive, less static,” Olearo said. “Fashion shows are still a powerful tool in terms of marketing, in terms of communication, in terms of optimization of visitors. As a leading show for the fashion professional, Première Vision has to be something more.”
This could include more ways of providing information and presenting topics for discussion, as well as getting more feedback on what people want, Olearo offered.
“Times are tough, but there will be opportunities for those who are clever enough to see where the world is going,” he said.