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French connection

Attire Accessories spoke to Premiere Classe Show Director, Sylvie Pourrat about the show’s selective exhibitor criteria, developing overseas markets and the growing fashion accessories market

What was the buying atmosphere at September 2016's Premiere Classe like?
The September edition was a significant one for us, as it was the first meeting of the season after a summer marked by horrific events in France, as well as a subdued economy.
The atmosphere had to be uplifting and friendly and it was exactly that. Our exhibitors - like the buyers - appreciated being at the trade show, being in Paris and living in the moment together. From this point of view the session was extremely successful. From a business perspective, we observed a marked decline in the shoes and leather goods sectors, simply because MICAM in Milan took place on the same dates, so the energy of these two industries were divided between Paris and Milan. As for the rest of the accessories, it was a rather successful session, especially for the jewellery and summer accessories markets.

How many exhibitors returned from January's show?
Our reports showed that 65 per cent of our usual January exhibitors returned for September's edition. The trade show is an important platform for meetings with existing buyers as well as introduction to first-time visitors and potential new retailers.

Are there any new developments in terms of seminar programmes, retailer initiatives and brand support?
The initiatives linked to research solutions for the retailers are our top priority. Premiere Classe has to be a business tool and it has to respond to the changing needs of the market. Methods of purchasing and distribution are changing, so it's imperative that we support our buyers throughout these adjustments. For a number of seasons we've been developing a space dedicated to the world of retail; The Retail Expert Club. It's where you can go to get free consultations on any business problems or decisions from experienced industry insiders including personal shoppers, visual merchandisers, marketing executives and business owners.
We've also recently developed support programmes for brands, which coordinates training days for new exhibitors. This is compatible with the assistance we offer via The Future of Fashion programme, which creates incredible opportunities for up-and-coming designers.

How has Premiere Classe developed over the past 12 months?
We retain the principle of selection and curation as the major driving force of our mission. Surprise, uncover and showcase something novel, invest in creativity, highlight the season's 'it' products and exhibit the lifestyle of the trends - these are our beliefs. This has been the case for the past 12 months, and it will stay true for the year to come.

What features of the show prove to be most popular?
The most popular elements of the show are the retail services we provide, the clearly defined sectors and trends, the high quality exhibitor list, the avant-garde branding and curation, the new designers; our visitors know that they won't find the same selection anywhere else.
The collaborations that we've developed with our brands are equally very successful: they give our services and the latest trends more clarity, with a particularly strong example being our (RE)CREATE upcycling project.

Have you used any buyer feedback to make changes to the show? We're constantly listening to our buyers and their needs. After each season, satisfaction questionnaires are sent to our buyers and exhibitors so that we're aware of which services we need to improve, create and how we can develop our trade shows. Our recent change of dates and the return of the September edition are examples of how we've listened to what the industry wants. We're currently in the process of working on an array of new services designed for the Premiere Classe buyers.

Do you expect to welcome many new accessories exhibitors?
Accessories is a sector in the market that's constantly evolving and growing. Every season, more and more new accessories brands launch their debut collection. Our job is to choose the best of all these collections, selecting those which add value to Premiere Classe's already exciting fashion accessories selection. Newcomers account for around 35 per cent of our accessories sector each season.

Will The Future of Fashion initiative be continuing next season?
Yes! This programme is really important for the show, in terms of giving emerging design talent the chance to present their work on a commercial platform. We were proud and pleased to welcome Not Just Another Label to partner with us for this. This initiative is so powerful: it allows us to help young designers for three consecutive seasons and support their business development along the way.

Do you expect to welcome more overseas exhibitors and visitors in January?
We have more overseas exhibitors lined up for January, and the number of visitors from these countries is also increasing.
We select our brands on an international scale, always with a focus on emerging countries where creation is pure and thriving. Taiwan and Thailand are examples of developing countries in terms of fashion creation. We like to keep an eye on these countries.
As an international trade show, it's our duty to continue to diversify our visitor base and to enable our exhibitors to break through their corresponding markets. Around 35 per cent of our visitors are from overseas, we aim to have more than 40 per cent in the next few trade shows. In order to do this, we're multiplying the overseas initiatives and developing international promotion plans. One of the initiatives is to reinforce our links with the British market, and this summer season we reserved a Eurostar carriage which enabled us to invite around 50 British buyers, journalists and bloggers. This operation has been a success. The guest buyers particularly liked our strong selection of brands. The majority of them like coming to our trade shows as they're guaranteed to discover new creations and diverse products.

Finally, can you shed any light on the next show's theme?
That's top secret information - but you can let Attire Accessories readers know that the theme for January's show will be announced very soon!

To find out more and register for the show, which will take place from 20th -23rd January, 2017 at Porte de Versailles, visit www.premiere-classe.com