Can your brand get the attention of the world’s busiest buyers?
Ahh… Paris. Who needs a reason to head to that majestic and magical city? I sure don’t need an excuse! But this time, there was an important occasion to be there: Paris Market Week.
There’s an energy you can’t find anywhere else this time of year. Unlike NYC, Paris Market and Paris Fashion Week don’t come one after the other – they happen at the same time instead. So this already spectacular city transforms with fashion industry people, fashion lovers, incredible design and events just about everywhere you go. It was a fun week – I even met Juergen Teller!
I was in town with Arianna, one of the retail consultants here at Scaling Retail. Our main mission was to buy for some of our retail clients. We walked TRANOÏ and Paris sur Mode, Premiere Classe’s RTW show. Unfortunately, TRANOÏ wasn’t that cool which was totally unexpected. It’s usually the place to discover tons of emerging talent – but not this time around. It felt more mature and a lot more conservative.
Our buying objective meant we held meetings with brands all day long, taking lots of pictures to support the orders. We would stop to see booths and talk to brands and the emerging designers were noticeably different. We felt more warm and positive about suggesting them for the buy because we were given so many insights into how they were developed and where the brands are going in the future. Designers thoroughly explained how each piece came together and were there in person, ready and waiting to listen for feedback. It’s a major asset to get on the same page for future development. One such designer who stood out was Sunny from House of Sunny.
Our experience was wonderful, overall, but there weren’t a ton of brands that were really unique or that stood out particularly.
Arianna and I also got to go to a bunch of multiline showrooms and visit independent brands to check out their collections. I saw a lot of brands presented great product at really reasonable prices. Picture product that’s been designed very well and that’s very directional but with retail price points of $150-$500. They all looked really expensive and that was awesome to see.
A lot of the growing, limited distribution emerging brands we met with had very high wholesale to MSRP prices. We saw markups between 2.5 and 3.2 which is really valuable and allows for more markup and more margin for the retailers.
One showroom that stood out in particular was Spazio 38 from Milan. They carry amazing brands like Vivetta and I love their strategy. They allow the emerging Italian brands in the showroom to piggyback off of the bigger brands that get the buyers in to the showroom. While they have buyers on site, they show them smaller brands too. Nice touch.
And foodies take note: I fell in love with Taralli Italian pretzels! An extra yummy catering snack during Paris Market. I’ll be ordering some to have back here at home. Check it out.
Pop-Ups & Brick-and-Mortar Stores
We went to tons of stores and one that really stood out was by Camille Fournet. All of her small handbags and leather goods were protected by locked glass cases. You had to swipe a key card to take product out. It was a very clean display option but also a great integration with technology. Overall the merchandising was cool, the architecture was amazing and they did a great job of leveraging the space as best as possible.
Of course I had to stop by the new KENZO flagship in the Marais, with interiors by Fabrizio Casiraghi. There are a lot of interesting things to note about this store – in addition to the actual clothes (I took home a few pieces myself!). It’s an “events store” where they host a lot of pop-ups; during PFW, an impressive art installation was in place. You could see collections that were fresh off the runway and I was served coffee in a branded KENZO cup. The customers loved it.
I also checked out the buzz-worthy Nous, a streetwear concept store founded by people from the recently-closed Colette. It’s a menswear store filled with collaborations and capsule collections but there’s really something for everybody. The prices are very accessible and there’s everything from clocks to magazines and random tchotchkes in between – imagine a streetwear store for MoMA.
I went to every pop-up and permanent brick-and-mortar you can imagine! Here are a few…
So… How Can You Get the Attention of the Busiest Retail Buyers?
It’s so difficult to get in front of buyers that even being part of a showroom doesn’t mean any guarantees. Buyers are busier than ever, with limited time and exhausting schedules. And though emerging designers are more important to the industry than ever, it’s not easy to find them. You have to make the effort to get noticed. Here are a few of your best options…
- Host Events: If you’re not with a showroom and don’t exhibit at a trade show during market, shift your focus to creating your own event. For your event to be successful, you have to make it easy for buyers to get there. Second, you’ll have to prep in advance so you can market it weeks in advance. This way, when buyers get to market, they’ll already have your brand in mind and they can organize to make it between all of their other commitments. Also be sure to follow up when market is over.
- Network and Pitch Between Markets: Pitch and work on building relationships before and after market. Even if you’re not selling to them this season, it doesn’t hurt to get on their radar in between markets for more time and attention.
- Leverage Instagram: A lot of buyers scour Instagram to find new talent. Follow and use key hashtags like #PFW during Market Week. Buyers are using these new feature to see what’s happening, what brands are around and what they’re up to.
- Get on Emerging Fashion Directories: Sites like Garmentory feature retailers selling emerging brands and serve as value venues to get discovered.
- Exhibit at Trade Shows: There’s a lot of competition and they’re tough but they’re still important opportunities. Make your booth as exciting as possible.
- Travel to Key Buyers: Buyers travel the globe – but if you’re not on their stop, go to see them. Plan your trips ahead of time by contacting each particular buyer first to schedule appointments, for example, booking a meeting with a MATCHESFASHION.COM buyer in London. Do it during a time of year when you’re likely to get a warmer response.
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