The season starts with Denimsandjeans Bangladesh in March, continues with Kingpins Amsterdam in April, through Denim Première Vision and Kingpins New York and Hong Kong in May, to the final Denimsandjeans Vietnam and BPD Expo in June.
As the entire fashion industry continues to shift, with production times shortening and sourcing becoming ever more direct, some have questioned aspects of the existing show calendar. Rivet spoke with industry professionals, including mill representatives, show organizers and brands’ sourcing executives about the best shows for doing business, the amount of travel required and the benefits shows offer.
The geographical spread of the shows means that different shows draw different markets. Jean Hegedus, Invista global segment director of denim and wovens, explained that Kingpins Amsterdam and New York see both European and U.S. customers, while Denim Première Vision brings mainly European customers, and Hong Kong draws the buying houses.
Despite the general geographical breakdown, many mills internationally pointed to Denim PV and Kingpins New York as the best for business. The shows’ popularity seems to be a result of bringing in the largest variety of customers.
Thierry Langlais, vice president of operations at Première Vision, explained that Denim PV offers unique networking opportunities with a show that is international for 74 percent of attendees, who come from more than 50 different countries.
Kingpins New York also draws a large crowd with 60 denim mills attending the last New York show. Andrew Olah, founder of Kingpins Shows, said, “The goals of the New York Show are to bring a large group of denim factories and ancillary supply chain producers to one venue and to give attendees as much choice and information as possible.”
While some mills find the number of scattered shows helpful, others would rather have fewer, bigger shows where everyone can meet. Viresh Verma, vice president of marketing at Arvind Denim Lab, said that the U.S. industry could use a single, consolidated show like Denim PV.
Tricia Carey, Lenzing director of global business development, went even further, suggesting, “We need the ‘Olympics of Denim,’ which brings everyone together, say every two years. Season to season we make small changes, but we need to take these regional trade shows and have larger impact and exchange big ideas throughout the supply chain and technology suppliers.”
This may work to the advantage of fatigued industry members. The schedule is so busy that Denim Dude author Amy Leverton said on Instagram that she skipped the most recent Denim PV because she “couldn’t handle one more trip.”
Carey also pointed out that the denim supply chain drives denim innovation, yet the supply chain companies are moving to the customer within each region rather than the customer to the supply chain.
Sandeep Agarwal, founder of Denimsandjeans.com, said that the concept of organizing shows in sourcing locations is gaining ground. Denimsandjeans Bangladesh has experienced increased attendance since it began a few years ago. He said, “The buyers normally travel to Bangladesh for their sourcing needs, and they just time their visits with our shows. Our shows are timed to help them source for their seasons correctly.”
Nick Chadwick, vice president of sourcing and supply chain at True Religion, confirmed the idea that it works better for the brand’s calendar to visit the mills when he is traveling, however, these visits replace trade shows; Chadwick said True Religion has dramatically reduced its trade show attendance in the last year. He likes the more direct environment of visiting the mill, and he also mentioned that the majority of mills will come through Los Angeles where the brand is based.
Most mill representatives, however, believe that the number of shows is a bonus. Amrin Sachathep, director of Atlantic Mills, said that attending different shows allows him to have more time with each customer, as most customers only go to one show per season.
Robert Deakin, sales director at Deyao Textile, agreed. He said, “There should be competition to allow innovation in the presentation, mill selection and customer base.”
Yet, Deakin went on to highlight that just participating in a show would still not necessarily lead to sales. “The events cannot guarantee business for the denim mills of course, and you cannot be guaranteed an order if you are able to connect with a ‘big customer.’ The harsh reality is that each customer may only have two to three main suppliers.”
Another way show organizers believe they can show the value of their events is through trend seminars. Langlais said Denim PV offers a variety of guidance from forums, films, seminars and specific tools that highlight unique color and material directions. He said, “[The trend events] are unparalleled in the world of professional trade shows thanks to their richness and pertinence, as well in the way this information is conveyed.”
Bill Curtin, founder of BPD Blueprint Denim Expo in New York, takes a different approach toward trend with “trend therapy.” He said, “It’s a one-on-one trend interaction with just you and the trend person.” He said this leads to a more relaxed and productive atmosphere.
Another question surrounding trade shows has been the timing of the shows, as the fashion calendar is moving quicker and quicker. Sachathep said that the dates of the shows seem to meet the customer mill weeks, however, Atlantic Mills generally meets customers again following the shows to finalize the collection and speed up the process.
Hegedus acknowledged that the timing of the shows is not always ideal, as there is the difficulty of coordinating schedules among multiple companies. She added, “Show timing really should be dictated by the brands and when they make their development and sourcing decisions. The difficulty is that this varies from brand to brand.”