Tradeshows and showrooms are without a doubt the primary channels for emerging brands to connect to the market and begin to exploit their commercial potential; however, they come at a high cost and with no real guarantee of success. The steep participation fees alone are so often crippling to new brands starting out.
While a number of initiatives exist to promote emerging talent within the fold of a tradeshow format, the risk is that these often appear to be a PR-led activity, structured to position the event as innovative rather than meaningfully drive business the way of the participating designers. The challenge then is to link emerging brands with a real commercial platform from which to initiate growth. The digital space provides ample opportunity to align these interests in novel ways.
From a B2B stance, the advent of the digital tradeshow format has been a big development of recent years. The landscape looks divided between brick-and-mortar players that increasingly have introduced a digital declension of their event and pure online B2C players.
Without a doubt, granting trade buyers the opportunity to visit an industry event online and place orders using the tools of e-commerce will be a continuing trend. The benefits are clear to see – a broader buyer reach and a longer market time ultimately means a substantially bigger opportunity to do business.
Nonetheless, with more and more consumers following industry trade events – by now, a reality in our blogger / street fashion era – it is critical that the commercial opportunities of tradeshows are also exploited from a B2C stance.
The recently concluded edition of Pitti Immagine did just that, by partnering the runner-up of the fourth edition of Who Is On Next? (WION), a competition open to new talent in men’s fashion and produced in cooperation with Altaroma and L’Uomo Vogue, with Yoox, the leading Italian online retailer for multi-brand fashion and design. Already, WION allows the winner – this year, the Swedish, Polimoda-trained Erїk Bjerkesjo – the possibility to sell his or her own collection online for a year, through Pitti’s online e-trade portal. However, through this new proposition, WION enables the winner of the award to drive direct B2C commercial benefit from the initiative.
As of September, it will be possible for consumers to view the winner of the Yoox selection, Italian-born and Antwerp-trained Andrea Cammarosano’s Spring Summer 2013 collection on Yoox and order directly from the site (although it is not entirely clear whether the final garments will be produced on order or be available immediately, from Yoox-purchased stock).
However, while a number of e-commerce sites already exist enabling consumers to connect directly with more emerging designers (the UK-based Not Just a Label and Lookk come to mind), what is interesting about the WION / Yoox partnership is that the site markets a rising name on a platform traditionally associated with established names.
This is a big point of difference and not to be underestimated. After all, despite dedicated sites that cater to a more fashion-forward consumer, in the bid to gain a market foothold, the challenge for an emerging name is gaining mainstream support.
It will be interesting to see the results of this collaboration come September and whether this type of initiative will gain traction going forward — one certainly hopes that it will.
Photo credits: Andrew Bret Wallis