Talking trade with New Zealand Fashion Week

Harman Grubisa’s winter 2017 collection on the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week 2016. Image by James Yang Photography.

New Zealand Fashion Week recently announced that this year’s event will have a new Trade Space on-site where designers can meet with buyers without having to rush all over Auckland for appointments. It’s a smart business move and an idea that’s been used successfully overseas such as at London Fashion Week, so it makes sense for NZ to facilitate an easier experience for all involved.

The numbers for NZ Fashion Week continue to be sizable with 30,000 people attending 49 shows featuring 83 designers over the seven days the event was on. While the trade shows make up just over half the event these days, the weekend shows are also a valuable sales exercise for brands with this year’s event set to be even bigger than last year.

Sales will be an important part of the new Trade Space with designers able to expand their network of business connections and negotiate wholesale agreements in an efficient way. We were curious to find out more about the Trade Space and so we put a few questions to Janey Evett, New Zealand Fashion Week’s Event Manager and designer Sara Munro of Company of Strangers to find out more about how they see it working come fashion week time.

Janey Evett – NZ Fashion Week Event Manager

Where did the idea come from for the Trade Space and why did you decide to launch it at this year’s NZFW?
Having spent the last decade in NYC working within the fashion industry in the area of wholesale development, I am accustomed to looking at a runway show as having two major components that rely on one another to be successful – one part being the show and the other half being the business/trade side and sales that follow.

Last year I joined the team just weeks prior to the event, so I was trying to understand how the post show trade appointments worked and what I noticed was that a majority of designers were showing all over town and if you dropped each address as a pin point on a map you would see just how spread out things were – not advantageous for anyone! It has been my mission ever since to put something like this together and introduce it for the 2017 event.

In past years, NZFW has had trade areas incorporated into the event, but due to a lack of adequate space (which has since been resolved), the focus moved away from this platform. I feel strongly that developing the business side to the runway shows is essential, and by incorporating this new area into the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre (VEC), we are able to offer the full package both to designers and to our delegates.

Designers that do not have a centrally situated Auckland showroom no longer need to locate a suitable space to sell from nor do our delegates need to travel around Auckland for their appointments in between shows and spend the day stuck in traffic. There is now the opportunity for everything to happen with ease in one centralized location and allow the VEC to serve as a true hub for the industry during NZFW.

What has the response been like from the local fashion industry (especially designers) so far?
There has been a great amount of interest and excitement about this area! The Trade Space serves a variety of purposes, so it has definitely created new ways in which designers can be involved – it ultimately gives designers the freedom to utilise the space as it will be most advantageous to their unique needs and objectives. Some NZ-based designers that may not be ready to sink their teeth into taking part in a runway show can reserve a spot here in order to increase their brand exposure and grow and strengthen their networks within the industry. We have also received interest from international designers looking at expanding into the NZ market as this is a great way to test the market and build a new network.

Other designers will choose to use this area in conjunction with a runway show so that they can keep their involvement on-site and utilise the infrastructure of the area to focus on their post-show appointments.

Salasai’s winter 2017 collection on the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week 2016. Image by James Yang Photography.

It makes a lot of sense to have on-site showroom space for buyers, are you expecting the number of buyers to increase with this opportunity and what has the reaction been like from buyers at this point?
We are very confident that the addition of this space will have a positive impact on the number of buyers that register to attend. In addition to enjoying the ease of having on-site appointments with designers involved in the Trade Space, all registered buyers will be able to access this area at any time over the course of the week. I anticipate that in between shows when there is some downtime, this is a space that many buyers will pass through in hopes of discovering a new brand.

We have also added a buyers lounge into the third level of the venue which will sit alongside the Trade Space and provide an area with wi-fi access, charging stations, and ultimately a place where the delegates can relax and/or catch up on work.

Strong buyer numbers are vital to the success of the event – the Trade Space reinforces the fact that NZFW is committed to developing and growing this side of the event.

Sara Munro – Designer from Company of Strangers

How do you think the new Trade Space will change your NZFW experience?
We travel to NZFW from the other end of the country and don’t have an Auckland showroom. Being on site means we don’t have to set up our sales appointments in a hotel away from the venue, get racks in, organise the right space to show from, etc. Occasionally, the hotel or apartment we end up having to book isn’t ideal, the light is bad or it’s in an obscure location and our buyers can’t find us easily enough. Being onsite they will all know exactly where we are!

Some of our buyers had found it difficult to get around all the different showrooms to do their buying and were missing shows or not making it in time. The Trade Space allows us to be right there, eliminating the travel times for our buyers and making fitting appointments in around the show schedule easier.

Wearing my buyer hat for our own store in Dunedin, I know I have missed being able to go to shows of designers we stock because I’m on the other side of the city doing our own sales appointments. I will be able to whip downstairs, pick up our tickets, then go to the show right on time.

Also, what will you be doing differently in the lead up to NZFW with having the available Trade Space?
The logistics of setting up our collection will be so much easier in the trade space. Being able to show our collection on the runway at NZFW and then whip our collection upstairs will be such a delight!

To able to have a glass of wine or a coffee with friends, associates and buyers at the venue without being far away from our collection makes life much easier.

The opportunity to meet new potential stockists is also key. It will be easy for them to pop in and preview the collection without having to commit to an appointment, or feel the obligation of viewing without ordering if it’s not for them.

New Zealand Fashion Week 2017 runs from 28th August – 3rd September. 

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