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…Even if trade fairs are not nearly as sexy as fashion weeks. Models getting made-up backstage, a hundred cameras flashing, champagne glasses clinking, media, celebrities, designers all gather for a whirlwind of creativity, energy, and dynamism. From the next set of wares on the shelves of Zara to the annals of the street style blogs, fashion weeks have a direct impact. They are all about change, freshness, trends – the next big thing is being created. Most fashion lovers don’t even think that much about trade fairs but, if they of, the images that might come up is of businessmen haggling, buyers sorting through endless racks of clothing more practical than titilating, and a situation that is generally much more commercial than artistic. Who would want to walk down a long row of booths when they could be seated next to the runway?
Both types of event are about displaying product, but they occupy different roles in the industry and probably shouldn’t be compared. Until I started working with the HUB, as a blogger, I would always have chosen to attend a fashion week before a trade fair. But since working as a consultant on media for this project, my feelings have chanced somewhat. In many ways, I feel that the format of the fair is more suited to my slower vision of what fashion should be. i want it to be more about the products than the emotions, trends, and excitement. At trade fairs, visitors can go directly to the product and have conversations with the people who made it. The issue is not the mood in the air and all the glamour, but rather the fabric, craftsmanship, and commercial viability of specific items. This is a format more suited to thinking merchants with customers who think as well.
These days, we want to buy local, buy durable, and buy a real story. In this context, the slick advertising, global sourcing and selling, and trend addiction of the fashion trade makes it seem – ironically – behind the times. Customers want to move beyond worldwide trends and labels, and conformity from one city to the next. Stylites celebrates bursts of individuality and unique style, as it emerges in China. Though my project has often involved tracking fashion influences from outside on China, the real point is more about something that is distinct to a certain city. The HUB attracted me both because it aligned with my skills and experience, but, perhaps more importantly due to a confluence with my values. With the first edition of the fair, there was a true dedication to bringing brands that had a genuine story and a dedication to quality. At this risk of sounding too zeitgeisty, the HUB showed a commitment to all that is authentic and artisanal. Many of the brands from North America and the UK were really produced there.
For the next show this commitment to real stories and authenticity remains but will also be taken in a new direction: young, independent brands. The Greenhouse will bring young, rising designers from many parts of the world together and give buyers from Asia and beyond a chance to see and feel their offerings up close. About his participation in The HUB, Jamil Juma of Juma Studio comments “we look forward to participating in the Green House. It’s a great way to reach out to Chinese companies as well as International participants in a well curated show.” The Greenhouse will focus on young designers who deserve more attention, build products that are impossible to replicate, and have great stories. Here’s more information from MWB.
Karl Lagerfeld is probably more sexy than a department store owner, so we don’t expect most viewers to get more excited about trade fairs than fashion weeks any time soon. Still, without rejecting the mystique of fashion shows and all their pageantry, I do think that it is nice to have a more real alternative.