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Nicola Mira
Jul 11, 2018
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Who's Next, Première Classe reinvent shows with concept-store inspiration

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jul 11, 2018

The Who's Next and Première Classe trade shows in Paris are changing. The two jointly held first-session events will introduce a series of innovations for their next edition on September 7 to 10, while their organiser WSN Développement is also busy restructuring. The next edition will be a “transitional” one, according to Frédéric Maus, joint general manager of WSN Développement since last January, yet one that will pave the way for the new direction the shows want to take to once again stimulate the interest and rekindle the enthusiasm of visitors.

The plan of the Who's Next-Première Classe shows in September 2018, with the new sections - WSN Développement

The two shows bring together approximately 1,300 exhibitors, and the organisers have unveiled a spate of novelties designed to give more of a lifestyle feel to next September’s session. More exactly, to give them more of a concept store feel, following the example of those retailers who breathed fresh life into their shops by introducing new product categories. The events will in fact host new sections showcasing a new range of products, some of them already featured at the shows, though in a less visible way.

For example, beachwear will be included in hall 4 at Who's Next. The new, 900-square-metre section will host about 30 exhibitors from the swimming costume, beachwear and beach accessories sector, like Pain de Sucre, Banana Moon, Bohodot and Méduse, as well as ten Brazilian brands brought together by the Carandai 25 collective platform and the Paris de Janeiro agency, as Who's Next continues to promote the presence of exhibitor collectives. The beachwear section is called ‘Hotel Californiafrica’, a nod to the ‘Africa Street’ thread that runs through the show this season, inspiring events, young designers, artists and even musicians on opening night.

Another new section will be ‘Mix and Mixte’, in hall 3 of Première Classe. The idea is to introduce something of a concept store approach, by blending together different kinds of accessories, all of them with the sort of finely tweaked positioning compatible with this type of store. ‘Mix and Mixte’ will host 70 brands, half of them casual footwear and the other half exhibiting everyday, impulse-purchase products, including handbags, hats and other clever items for inquisitive urban consumers of both sexes. Among the exhibitors, brands like Panafrica, Faguo, Beau Nuage and Semura. 

Next door, in hall 3, Première Classe will introduce a section dedicated to cosmetics, a fully fledged launch after a few beauty exhibitors were hosted piecemeal in previous sessions. The section is called ‘La Ville Beauté’ (Beauty city), and was created in response to strong visitor demand. It will feature a series of emerging brands, as well as more established names looking for greater visibility in the fashion world. Among the exhibitors, nail varnish brands Nailmatic and Clever Beauty, make-up brand Irisé Paris and skincare brands Joliderm and Oden.

The last of the new sections is called ‘Fine Jewellery’. It is located in hall 3 within the existing jewellery section, showcasing exhibitors whose product range is positioned roughly halfway between costume jewellery and high-end jewellery. Jewellery brands like Lovingstone, Les Merveilleuses, Nam, Sofia Dido and Shagreen & Tortoise will thrive in the special, distinctive setting designed by another accessories brand, Maison Baluchon.

By introducing new sections, Who's Next and Première Classe want to arouse the interest of and inspire retailers, encouraging them to venture away from their usual haunts. The innovations are also the first instances of WSN Développement’s new approach. In the words of Frédéric Maus, the show organiser is “reviewing its fundamentals,” in order to better respond to client demand and at the same time develop a more long-term vision of the shows and their market positioning.

As a result, WSN Développement reorganised itself by creating two divisions, headed by the joint General Managers Frédéric Maus and Xavier Clergerie. The first is the Client Success division, led by Aude Chabanier, who was formerly in charge of Who's Next. The division’s goal is to “simplify the relationship with clients, whether brands, visitors or sometimes both together,” said Frédéric Maus, in order to “avoid having multiple correspondents, and to start a new kind of conversation.”

WSN Développement also created a new event division, with which Who's Next is headed by Emily Tepper Tarac, as reported by FashionNetwork.com a few weeks ago, and Sylvie Pourrat is in charge of Première Classe, as she was before. “Here, the idea is that the event division will be able to have a more long-term perspective on each show and their positioning, thinking ahead to what the shows will need to be like in five to ten years to meet the market’s expectations,” said Maus. Still on the reorganisation front, Jean-Marc André, WSN Développement’s Marketing and Communication Manager since the end of 2016, has left the company, and his functions are being reallocated internally.

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