3 August 2015
The UK apparel sector is making its final preparations for Moda this weekend and – according to those at the heart of the industry – having one, national trade event has never been more essential. Bringing together all aspects of the womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, lingerie and swimwear trade within one vibrant and accessible setting, Moda presents visitors with the opportunity to buy at dedicated, sector-specific shows within the wider context of the UK’s national trade hub.
“It’s healthy for like-minded people to come together face-to-face instead of ordering over a computer screen,” says Gary Millar, owner of Millar’s Shoe Store in Craigavon, Co. Armargh. “Moda is in a convenient location and I get to see a brand’s entire range – not just the selection that the rep thought I may like.”
At a time when independent retailers are consistently seeking to gain an edge over their high street competitors, discovering that all-important bestseller is paramount – and Millar’s views are echoed throughout the industry.
“Nothing beats seeing merchandise face-to-face,” admits Nancy Nelson, owner of independent lingerie boutique Sobriquet in Eastbourne, Essex. “Previous experience of buying from line sheets has proven that it can be disastrous.”
Above and beyond product however, retailers are maximising the potential to interact with fellow, like-minded trade professionals during a dedicated, three-day event. As independent retailers strive to hold their own on their respective high streets, many report feelings of isolation in their local regions, and cite the trade show as an essential opportunity to swap tips and exchange ideas.
“The networking and social element of Moda Woman is very important to me,” says Hilary Cookson, owner of womenswear store Maureen Cookson in Clitheroe, Lancashire. “It’s ideal having all categories under one roof, and I pick up half of my in-season accessories at the show as well as viewing the footwear. Ease of access, parking and being able to stay on site also make the show convenient to visit.”
Now in its 14th year, Moda is the key exhibition date on the calendar for all aspects of the trade, and its 28th edition is set to raise the bar once again.
“Trade shows are essential for the industry and currently Moda carries the flag and does it very well,” says Robert Nash, owner of menswear independent Geo Heaphy & Sons in Redditch, Worcestershire. “Since attending my first show as a child, I have felt it is absolutely essential to attend and to get a feel for range direction and to meet brands and contacts both old and new, and that’s as relevant today as it has always been.”