Fimi relies on globalization to return to normality
The Spanish children's fashion fair Fimi returned between June 17 and 19 after holding a joint edition last February, its first physically held event after the beginning of the pandemic. This edition was held alone in Hall 8 of the Feria de Valencia exhibition center, following the trade show's move from Madrid to Valencia in 2019.
A total of 123 national and foreign brands, including the presence of Portuguese, Turkish and Polish companies, spread over the 8,000 square meters of space. The trade show's summer edition was attended by a hundred international buyers. This impulse from abroad was facilitated by the invitations made by the Spanish Association of Children's Brands (Asepri), the Valencia Chamber of Commerce and the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (Ivace), which made it possible for buyers from countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Lebanon, Israel and the United States to attend the fair. Two large buying chains from France and the United Kingdom, one of the "most important" countries for the children's fashion industry in Spain, represented the European market.
"The sector is picking up speed again. Brands are back to business as usual, but they are still recovering from two years of hiatus. Despite the boom or the introduction of the online channel, it is not enough compared to the volume of sales before the pandemic. Uncertainty is still being felt," said the event's director, Alicia Gimeno, in an interview with FashionNetwork.com, stressing that the event's commitment to support its participating brands includes globalization.
"We want to promote business development abroad until the domestic market gets back on its feet. There have been many closures of children's stores in the past few months in Spain. We have to find a new balance between international boutiques and those newly opened," insisted the head of the event, calling for the need to "implement policies to promote birth rates and aid for new parents" as mechanisms to boost the sector. Established companies such as Pili Carrera, Bonnet à Pompon and Normandie have recently gone out of business in Spain.
Although detailed attendance figures have not yet been published and the pre-pandemic volume of visitors has yet to return, the children's fair did boast the attendance of "hundreds of professionals from 20 different countries". "Although the aisles were not crowded, brands made new contacts, opened markets and signed orders, which is the most important thing. And the fair is the driving force behind all these projects to serve as a stepping stone for the brands," explained Gimeno, mentioning that the second day of the fair was the busiest.
A quiet optimism befitting this period of "gradual recovery" was shared by many of the brands present. The footwear company Pisamonas, participating in the event for the second time in a row, was happy with the number of visitors at the fair and with the significant number of foreign buyers, while Mac Ilusion expressed its satisfaction with the event's physical return.
Priorities of the fair: innovation and sustainability
This edition saw a growing commitment to innovation, presenting baby footwear that change color in the sunlight by BigToes; Olmitos swimwear collections, made from recycled polyester from plastic bottles with a UPF80 sun protection factor; and the smart, water-repellent fabrics of Probe Balloon, a minimalist Valencia-based brand.
Furthermore, a good number of attending brands, such as the Portuguese brand Play Up or the Polish brand Look by Luks, also made a commitment to sustainability. Although there were no fashion shows during this edition, which were one of the main attractions of the last edition of the communion fashion fair Día Mágico by Fimi, the show launched interactive photo sessions in order to "generate visual content and give visibility to the participating brands", such as Babidu, Ría Menorca, Siena, Teresita Royal or Kids Chocolate.
Despite the absence of leading Spanish companies in the sector such as Mayoral or Bóboli, the trade show was attended by big names such as Canada House, Foque, Monamoon or Tartaleta, which had some of the most visited stands, and the general feedback from participants was positive. "After a long time of hiatus we have been able to see each other face to face again. And that is important. Above all, we have recovered and strengthened our contacts," said Jorge Hernández, export director of footwear brands Leon Shoes and Blandito's by Crios, underlining the "added value" of the 'Made in Spain' label. This point of view was shared by the JaviLar firm, which explained that foreign buyers came in search of Spanish products, characterized by their "style, high-quality materials, competitive prices and good service".
The sector's next event already has confirmed dates. From January 26 to 28, fashion and childcare will once again generate synergies during the next edition of BabyKid Spain + Fimi, which will feature an expansion of space to two new pavilions at the Fira de Valencia exhibition center. "We want to be seen as the meeting point for the children's sector, bringing added value to the point of sale. Our main objective is to boost the internationalization and growth of companies," concluded the director of the event, for which preparations are already underway.
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