As a fashion professional for over 30 years I have attended so many fashion fairs that I can no longer count them. These fairs more accurately trade shows are where the independent side of the industry comes together to do business. It's not something that the public sees, and most people have no idea they even exist.
Such fairs take place in every country that has any kind of notable fashion industry so we see them in Paris, Milan, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam and, of course, London. My usual haunts were the German fairs, because it was there that I had access to as many plus-size designer ranges as I could ever want. However, over the years I have been to many elsewhere as well.
These shows have various aspects in common. The first is that they are big CPD occupies a huge exhibition space in Düsseldorf, Germany, for example, and in the UK the shows usually take place at Excel, Olympia or the NEC.
They contain stands displaying the next season's fashions, complete with samples and the ordering paraphernalia necessary to run one of the world's most important industries. Buyers and agents walk swiftly or huddle over tablets time is money in this environment and business has to be transacted quickly.
At the heart of each of these fairs is the catwalk. It often runs down the centre of the space, and the music from catwalk shows can be heard across the hall. Models stride out wearing the samples time travellers from the future, telling us what we will be wearing in a year or so.
In between the catwalk shows, the runway is given over to the seminars. This is where senior fashion insiders offer their insight, experience, knowledge and ideas to fellow professionals. It's considered a mark of respect to be invited to give one of these presentations, and they are always good value. Despite having a million other things to do at a show, I have often taken time to sit-in on seminar programmes, as I've found they offer fascinating information and thought-provoking perceptions.
So when I was invited to give a seminar in August at the UK's premier fashion show Moda which takes place twice yearly at the NEC in Birmingham, I was very honoured. As a bodyshape and fit expert I am now working with the leading e-commerce fit experts, Rakuten Fits Me, and I was excited by the opportunity to talk about fit issues to fashion professionals.
In the past apparel was sold through bricks-and-mortar stores and customers were able to try on clothing before making their purchases. Now more and more transactions are happening online, and suddenly without being able to 'try-before-you-buy' fit issues have become huge news. One significant problem is the level of returns generated by the current somewhat hit-and-miss method of buying clothes online.
We need to use all the available expertise in bodyshape, fit, garment technology and online technology to move into the next phase of fashion retail. The opportunities are fantastic. This is already a very positive story, and I was delighted to get the opportunity to talk to Moda about it.