What to expect from a fashion trade show

Thinking of attending a fashion trade show to promote your brand and products? Want to know what to expect from a fashion trade show, such as the SEC in Glasgow? As a fashion designer and regular attender, here’s my take.

It has been said that you should stick at an event for at least 3 years before seeing the benefits and possibly even receiving an order.

Why this trade fair? It made sense to try this event for the following reasons:

  • My knitwear is manufactured in Hawick, Scotland
  • The cashmere is high grade and spun in Scotland, with fair isle designs on tank tops and hats, not to mention the Rushworth logo, which is inspired by the thistle
  • Buyers are attracted to the selection of, what they see as, “Scottish” products
  • This is my 2nd year attending this trade fair, 4th time as an exhibitor having attended both the September and January fairs twice.

What is the layout of a typical fashion trade fair?

This particularly fashion trade show was visibly divided into 4 sections for visitors. As you enter there is a fabulous Craft Scotland section with some incredible makers and their designs on offer. Next to that is where you can discover exciting new products in the Launch Gallery. These sections are immediately recognisable with their fabulous stands – they are sturdy looking with painted wood walls. These allow for fixtures and fittings that ensure a optimal display for these amazing hand crafted designs.

The launch gallery is similar with its spotlighting for each exhibitor and immediately seen to be more attractive.

In this years’ SECC fashion trade show a 3rd well thought out and attractively built section appeared highlighting the wonderful talented designers from Orkney.

In summary, the fashion trade show layout was fabulously easy to navigate for buyers who want to look for producers/makers/designers/brands from these 3 categories.

The stand at the fashion trade show?

As I don’t fall into any of these categories (i.e. not handmade, not a new company and not based in Orkney) I had a small stand in with the “rest” i.e., 4th section of the fashion trade show.

I am thus loaded up with my tool box and the car boot is less about screws and beautiful shelving and more about sticky dots. Plus there is the easy to carry stand alone furniture, as well as velcro and hooks. These ensure I don’t damage the plastic walls or inadvertently cause a domino effect disaster along the aisle by pressing too hard on the sticky dots!

Set up day at the fashion trade fair

Now firstly, you must know, I have tried many different displays. From an elaborate lifestyle display with books, wooden signage and driftwood, to a basic look with fewer products. So armed with the newest of my designs I proceed to leave home on the Saturday afternoon with a quick stop at IKEA for a piece of furniture to simplify the set up. Turns out the piece of furniture I wanted wasn’t available and I had to buy an alternative which had a 48 step instruction sheet! Ferk! Already running late, will I have enough time to set up before 7pm?

As it happens all was good and ready by 6.50pm with some invaluable assistance. He knows who he is, and yes, your mother can get a tad confused when stressed! Off to the hotel now for food, a hot drink and up early to finish dressing the stand.

Day 1

Forgot my makeup! Slid all the way to the exhibition centre (sans maquillage). It snowed all day, the hall was cold, not enough layers, the weather had put some people off attending. One of my neighbouring exhibitors had her chair stolen! On set up day! Apparently, it’s a regular occurrence!! Seriously? Bring your own folks… and thermals. If someone had asked me what to expect from a fashion trade show, chair theft and the need for thermal underwear would not have been top of the list.

Day 2

Layered up with thermals and extra tops in anticipation of a cold hall, however, the ice age had come to an abrupt end and someone clearly ramped up the heating. Together with age related hot flushes ’twas a tad warm at times, but rather that way than the other. Luckily there was ice cream available for a taste. I happily obliged to do a blind tasting of vegan vrs traditional gelato – honestly I couldn’t tell the difference. Thanks Kerry from Giacopazzi, Eyemouth.

Day 3

The final day brought a chance to review the show, the feedback and enquiries from visitors and buyers and decide (perhaps a year too early) as to whether or not I shall return to the fashion trade show.

Those of you in the know will appreciate that the “trier and doer” in me will be content that I have given it a go, but alas, sometimes you gotta get off the well beaten track which works well for some and find your own way. So with that in mind, this year is the year to find an alternative way forward for We Are Rushworth, so back to our studio shop in Berwick Upon Tweed to plot the new strategy.

As the wise Dr Seuss says:

“If you never did you should, things are fun and fun is good.”

Thanks for listening and keep in touch.

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