Shanghai Trade Shows, Showrooms Hopeful for Gradual Rebound
SHANGHAI — As an important part of the Shanghai Fashion Week ecosystem, more than 12 showrooms and trade shows, including Shanghai Fashion Week’s official trade show Mode as well as Ontimeshow, Not Showroom and Tube Showroom, will be coming back in full force.
Showrooms expect a gradual rebound in brand and buyer attendance this season. The market remains cautiously optimistic about current market realities, with a U-shaped recovery still taking shape.
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Brands worth checking out at Not Showroom include LVMH Prize-shortlisted designer Louis Shengtao Chen; London-based Chinese designers Samuel Guì Yang and Yuhan Wang; sustainable Hong Kong brand Yat Pit; LVMH Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize winner Rui and Ian Hylton, and the menswear label founded by the president of the Xiamen-based Ms Min.
Tube Showroom will take place in an expansive space that will later become the showroom’s first retail location. Big sellers at Tube include Chen Peng, Calvin Luo, and Shushu/Tong and Bad Binch Tongtong.
Ontimeshow, the largest trade show in Shanghai, carved out a new space for emerging talent this season, including Zhong Zixin and Oude Waag, in an independent building featuring artistic interiors.
Dadashow Showroom will host a series of industry talks covering a variety of topics, from e-commerce to exported garments in ancient China, to textile innovation.
Autumn Showroom, a boutique showroom close to Ontimeshow’s West Bund venue, will feature well-known Chinese designers such as Sean Suen, The World Is Your Oyster and Dan Shan alongside emerging talents.
Ahead of SFW, WWD talked to owners of key trade shows and showrooms to better understand the fashion retail market post-COVID-19.
Jane Zhang, Mode Trade Show director
“We are clearly seeing a market recovery. To achieve ‘high-quality development [proposed during the Two Sessions in Beijing],’ shoppers are paying more attention to the brands’ content creation capacity. We are also seeing a wide range of retail channels with stores forming IPs [intellectual property] of their own. Retailers are becoming arbiters of style to provide consumers with more comprehensive lifestyle advice. There is an opportunity for designer brands to focus on niche categories. We believe the trade show also serves as a platform for everyone in the industry to gather and exchange ideas and co-create business opportunities.
“As a trade show encompassing multiple showrooms, each with its flair, we also want sustainability to become an integral part of Mode. The M Space forum, ‘Youliao’ department store and sustainable material research are the three pillars of our sustainability initiative. We’ve relaunched registration for foreign buyers this season, allowing Chinese brands to expand abroad.”
Thursday to Monday
No. 1398 Kaixuan Road, IM Shanghai
Ying Zhang, founder of Not Showroom
“The market went through a year of consolidation. This year’s numbers will definitely be better, coming from a lower base, as we began to see upticks in reorder requests after making the first shipment for spring 2023.
“We saw the market bounce back for fall 2020, but this year, let’s just call it resuming rational growth. For many retailers the takeaway from the pandemic was to become more strategic in their brand and product selection. They will allocate budgets for second or third reorders throughout the year, benefiting local brands. This season, we are introducing a few new brands, such as Louis Shengtao Chen, Yuhan Wang and Ian Hylton. I wouldn’t say they are mature brands, but brands that have a real brand proposition. In the last few years it was hard for the London-based Yuhan Wang to test the waters in the China market, but as the borders reopened, this has become her chance.
“Niche brands such as Penultimate and Yue Qiqi, which have established a small yet loyal following, are also doing well on the direct-to-consumer side. It’s also worth pointing out that Soft Mountains, the accessories brand launching womenswear this season, has enormous potential.”
Thursday to Wednesday
No. 457 North Shanxi Road
Zemira Xu, founder of Tube Showroom
“For our 16th season, we included fashion and lifestyle brands with a distinctive Chinese aesthetic in order to create an emotional resonance with the consumers. We hope this can offer a Chinese perspective to the global fashion industry. New talents to watch include Fabric Qorn, Nosense Official, Refuse Club and Xixingle.
“This will be the first time for us to showcase the brands in our Dia Underground retail space, which is due to open to the public in April. The space will integrate art and culture into experiential retail. It will be a space where designers can fully express their brand philosophies and design aesthetics.
“The overall expectation for the fall 2023 season is that it will be a huge improvement, even though the brands have a tighter preparation time this season due to the situation last year. The stores were generally conservative in spending last season, but this season they are asking more about new brands. This season’s trading volume is expected to rebound compared to the previous season, but the overall recovery may take some time.”
Friday to March 30
Xintiandi Style, Level B2
Yeli Gu, founder of Ontimeshow
“Over the years, Shanghai has continued to forge ahead as an international consumer hub, building up a remarkable soft power with a constant stream of new product debuts. With the blessing of the city, Ontimeshow has become one of the top fashion trade shows in China after eight years of development, with more than 3,200 brands and 120,000 visitors in total. Looking at the number of brands registered this season, it appears that everyone remains confident in the gradual recovery of the market.
“The most exciting highlight of this season for us will be the collective return of overseas brands, including a number of brands from France, Britain, the U.S., Japan and Thailand such as Fob Paris, Self-Portrait, Pushbutton and Bonbom. Their immediate return after the epidemic shows the confidence of the international fashion industry in the Chinese market.
“Our ‘Young Talents’ emerging designer discovery program this season will welcome six jury members, including Dan Cui, founder of sustainability platform CanU; Mary Ma, founder of fabric sourcing and developing platform Textile Library, and Waël Benkerrour, general manager of Shanghai and chief digital officer of China at Galeries Lafayette. Recipients of the program will receive support in product development, supply chain, market attention, media, and distribution.
“We will also launch Pt Edition, a collaboration between us, the International Platinum Association and the lifestyle magazine Lohas. The aim is to recruit brands that can combine the outstanding attributes of platinum with their own identities. We will provide them with all-around support.”
Roger Miao, managing director of Room Room
“Judging from the total number of buyers invited and the number of single-store brand appointments, buyers’ curiosity and enthusiasm for this ordering session, as well as their appetite for new brands, have increased. We think there are several reasons for this. Firstly, the cautious atmosphere brought about by the heavy sales pressure last year generated a gap in supply. Secondly, the confidence in ordering was stimulated by the rebound thanks to the relaxing of rules. Lastly, the continued acceleration in the pace of consumption increased patience and curiosity for small collections of brands with independent styles.
“Our prognosis for the overall sales situation is still relatively calm. The acceleration of domestic consumption brings more opportunities, while the reopening of China also brings new challenges. During Paris Fashion Week, Chinese buyers showed their long-awaited enthusiasm for overseas orders, and some of them also raised their purchasing budgets for them accordingly. This inevitably will negatively impact many local designers. In conclusion, we predict a small increase in the overall turnover compared to last season.”
Ontimeshow and Room Room
Saturday to Wednesday
West Bund Art Center
Bedi Ye, founder of Dadashow
“We powered through the three-year-long COVID-19 and came out stronger. We moved to a new venue and created an indoor garden as a photo moment for our media friends and buyers. We want them to be able to feel the energy of the spring, a time worth remembering. We have nearly 70 exhibitors, including brands incubated by commercial fashion groups and independent designers. Notable exhibitors like Jason Wu, RuirUiruI and Rieny Re are all backed by local fashion giants. We also expect the number of registered buyers to reach pre-pandemic levels.
“Fall 2023 has traditionally been a good season in terms of sales. As we see consumption begin to pick up gradually, showrooms will benefit. But we remain cautiously optimistic this season. Sales will likely reach 1.2 to 1.5 times that of fall 2022. Dadatalk, a professional and general interest panel series, will also step up its game to feature more industry friends, academics and retailers. Together, we can forge a path to success and breakthrough development bottlenecks.”
Thursday to Wednesday
No. 1111 Tianshan Road
Ian Lin, founder of Showroom Shanghai
“Of the new brands this year, we are seeing a smaller proportion of independent designer talents. More commercial brands, flush with capital and mature operational capacity, are taking the wholesale route. Overseas brands are also slowly returning to the Chinese market in a tentative manner.
“With the lockdowns in the fourth quarter of 2022 affecting sales, and a lack of revenge spending happening in the first quarter this year, many fashion boutiques have been feeling the burn, so buyers are cutting their budgets, which relays pressure on the showroom’s transaction volume. Most buyers will want to spend their budget on established brands. It will be a tough season for new designers.
“On the retail end, the reality is that average transaction value and item ticket price continue to drop. Buyers will make smaller orders spread out across more brands to ease cash flow pressure. They will also be betting on brands with more robust supply chains to replenish their orders at a later stage. But new brands are still popping up all over the place, and a cooling market will not stop these entrepreneurs, with many designers that previously served at commercial brands coming to the fore.
“Experience tells us that even though last year’s situation was bad, which wiped out nearly a quarter of fashion boutique and multibrand stores, a new group of retailers will eventually emerge.”
Saturday to Tuesday
Shanghai Exhibition Center
Chen Tingting, founder of Autumn Showroom
“We are staying clear-headed this season with a mid-sized showroom that counts 20 brands in total. This is our sixth season in the business; we are expanding from a menswear-focused proposition to include more womenswear brands, which currently account for half of the brand mix. The storied Italian footwear brand Drogheria Crivellini and accessory brands round out the lineup.
“We are confident about this season, as the first season after the pandemic, we are expecting significant improvement from last season but not a fast rebound. This will be more of a transitional season. We are seeing a 30 to 40 percent increase in buyer registration compared to last season. We hope that translates to a 30 to 40 percent increase in orders for our brands. But many Chinese buyers were able to go to Milan and Paris this season, so we expect them to have a smaller budget for the local market.”
Thursday to Wednesday
No. 7 Longai Road, Building A, Level 3
Justin Peng, chief executive officer of Labelhood, owner of Lab Showroom
“This season we still focus on new designer brands and continue to export fresh talents to the industry. Most of our brands are designer brands that were launched in the past two years, and Hadrian Wang, Ya Yi, Ware Air Qiqi and Selala Gu will be making their debuts this season.
“Buyers’ expectations and interest in new brands have increased significantly this season. In the economic environment of 2022, buyers tended to be conservative and only work with a fixed set of brands. This year, the situation is improving and they are looking for new brands. Retailers such as SKP, Galeries Lafayette, Hug and Pro showed great interest in new Lab brands and their differentiated products. The overall number of buyers’ appointments also increased compared with last September.
“Overall, we think this season’s rebound lies more in the retailers’ greater willingness to try new brands and expand into new markets. Because maybe the whole market’s expectations and confidence were too low last year, the market felt homogeneous and too commercial. And this year, people are interested in pumping some fresh blood into the shop floor.
Thursday to Wednesday
Amberg & Co., No. 97 Yuanmingyuan Road
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