CIFF’s Kristian Andersen on how sport is “a natural extension” for Danish trade show
Danish trade show CIFF is clearly going for an attack-minded strategy. The B2B fashion event has been keen on expansion for many years and, after strengthening what is the leading fashion event in Scandinavia, by giving it an international dimension and adding childrenswear, CIFF’s organiser has new ambitions. CIFF already made it clear it wanted to expand abroad, notably by staging an event in Paris, scheduled for next June, but this isn’t the only innovation on the cards. CIFF’s director, Kristian Andersen, talked to FashionNetwork.com about the show’s strategy and its forthcoming developments, including a show dedicated to sport in 2020, as well as the emergence of a new umbrella brand. In the background, Copenhagen’s growing appeal as a creativity hub.
FashionNetwork.com: On the last day of the winter 2019 session of CIFF, are you able to draw some initial conclusions?
Kristian Andersen: The number of visitors was slightly down on the first day, then slightly up on the second. The trend isn’t clear, whether we’ll have a slight increase or decrease, we shall see after the [third and] last day. On the other hand, there has been an increase in the number of top-tier buyers. It's all a question of balance, between having simply a large number of buyers, and having committed buyers. Buyers who actually place orders. In the end, it's the purchasing volume that counts.
FNW: Last year you announced you were going to hold a session in Paris, and in this edition, you gave a sneak preview of your new project, CIFF Sporting. What is it, and why are you organising it?
KA: The sports market is a highly important segment within the apparel market. For us it’s a natural extension, in an inspiring sector. We will launch it in summer 2020, with a twin dimension: of course, there will be a B2B event, but also an event targeting the general public, a permanent one that won’t end after the B2B show's three days. The idea is to enable brands to connect with [Copenhagen], its inhabitants and visitors, via a series of sporting projects. This is part of the more generalised approach we have for Copenhagen, designed to make the city a genuine destination [CIFF is owned by the Danish group which owns the Bella Center, a conference and exhibition centre in Copenhagen, as well as several hotels].
FNW: In practical terms, what will the event for the general public look like?
KA: We are regularly adding new buildings to the [Bella Center] complex. The next one to be built, next year, will have a rooftop basketball court. In a way, this will be the new project’s foundation stone. I think that the Pigalle Basketball court in Paris [a collaborative project between fashion label Pigalle and NikeLab] is a very good example. We could develop many similar projects for other sports, like yoga, climbing, football, racquetball and more.
FNW: You mentioned boosting Copenhagen as a destination, what can you say about your current visitorship, is it becoming more international?
KA: Yes. At the show’s previous edition, Scandinavian visitors accounted for 39% of total attendance, and the remaining 61% came from further afield. After Scandinavia, our main market is Germany, by a long way, both in terms of number of exhibitors and visitors. Then there are the UK, the Netherlands and France, though the latter more in terms of exhibitors than buyers. Finally, there is a growing number of buyers from the USA and Asia, which we need to foster. I think we ought to make ourselves known in China. We must become more and more international. Of course, there is a substantial pool of Danish exhibitors, but we need more of an international mix. Not to mention that the number of retailers in Scandinavia is declining, like everywhere else, I believe.
FNW: Aren’t CIFF’s summer dates, in the first fortnight of August, an obstacle to international expansion?
KA: This is my fifteenth edition, and the question is asked every year. I always give the same answer: the show is scheduled too late in the season. The end of June or early July, the dates we are thinking about for the sports event, would be much better. The August dates are traditional for Scandinavia, people go on holiday in July and come back in August. But clearly, the buyers who visit CIFF have already seen the collections. This is why I would rather see CIFF slotted in before the Scandinavian holiday period, to have a better place in the international calendar. We are holding talks with the Danish textile industry association and with the Copenhagen Fashion Week. I have high hopes that we will manage to bring our dates forward, we are ready for it. And if we can’t do it by 2020, we will at least have our new sport show on those dates!
FNW: You relocated the CIFF Kids show and rechristened it CIFF Youth, staging it alongside the adult show; are you happy with the result?
KA: The initial feed-back is positive. Being next door to CIFF seems to have enabled [CIFF Youth] to increase the number of visitors, but it is only a start. The name-change is part of the long-term project of making this event an experiential destination for young people in general.
I’m always astonished by the fact that, at a show dedicated to children, you never come across a single kid. We have new ideas in mind. From next summer, we want to include a range of activities dedicated to youth, offering a fully fledged programme, from sport to education, with cookery workshops for children for example, as well as focusing much more specifically on children aged 10-12, a segment in which several things will be happening. There are many traditional B2B shows for childrenswear in Europe, we want to offer something else. We are developing a genuine strategy for the coming seasons, we have ambitious plans for CIFF Youth, it won't just be a B-side show.
FNW: By physically bringing your shows closer together, are you also strengthening what you call the ‘CIFF platform’?
KA: We want to be more than a show, we want Copenhagen to become a destination for our community. This has been our lodestar for several years. The platform will have a new name, ‘The Northmodern project’. The CIFF show will continue to be designated as CIFF, but little by little this name’s footprint will shrink, in favour of the new umbrella name for all our activities. The new name will be the shared link among all our projects, from the existing fashion and art shows to forthcoming events like the sportswear and Paris shows.
FNW: What do you mean by ‘Northmodern Project’?
KA: It is actually the name of a home decoration and furniture show we launched five years ago. Its meaning is clear to us. It positions us in the North [of Europe], not just in Denmark, and it allows us to refer to our Scandinavian heritage, thanks to which Copenhagen has now become an international destination.
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