As summer beckons, occasionwear is firmly in the spotlight for womenswear retailers nationwide. Moda Noir is the trade’s national show for the special occasion sector, and the first port of call for princess prom dresses and mother-of-the-bride ensembles.
Buoyed by a strong summer season this year, retailers are looking ahead to Moda to secure the collections guaranteed to capture the imaginations of s/s 18 consumers.
“Business has been extremely buoyant this s/s 17,” admits Tracie Beardsley, director at independent womenswear boutique Fab Frocks in Westbourne, Bournemouth. “We have been busy since December with mother-of-the-bride (and groom), and we are sensing that customers are keen to get sorted early for weddings, with price points not really seeming to be an issue. We will be attending Moda with a view to buying into this sector again, as well as prom and wedding guest outfits. Dress Code and Veromia Occasions have been phenomenal this season, and we are also keen to see Linea Raffaelli, but we always keep an eye out for fresh looks and summer dresses at a good price point.”
For the suppliers, such strong sell-through is the result of carefully-designed and manufactured collections that are created each season with the end consumer in mind. Moda Noir regular Dress Code specifically targets the mother-of-the-bride, and has become a key player within the occasion sector.
“I think Dress Code has been successful because it takes retailers and consumers back to the age of elegance,” says the brand’s sales manager Avril Forbes. “The hallmarks of the collection are beautifully-cut dresses and coats, ultra-feminine shapes, exquisite fabrics and pretty embellishments, all of which will be revealed at Moda this summer. For us, Moda Noir is the only show for occasionwear, and we are looking forward to expanding our customer base, as well as welcoming back our existing clientele.”
Dress Code will be joined by a dazzling line-up of occasionwear brands including Luis Civit, which will make its Moda debut, Paola Collection, Carla Ruiz, Mascara, Linea Raffaelli, Sonia Pena, Ronald Joyce, Gabriella Sanchez, John Charles, Ann Balon Mac Duggal (pictured) and Cabotine.
“This season is all about Cabotine’s Unique collection, which is new for s/s 18,” says Nikoletta Szilvassy, Cabotine’s market development manager. “The new range is contemporary and cosmopolitan, adding a twist to carefully-crafted silhouettes with large skirts, metallic highlights and explosions of vivid colours. Moda Noir is the most well-known and established show in the UK for the type of buyers we are targeting, and we are looking forward to bringing some new clients on board when we exhibit in August.”
For fellow Spanish label Sonia Peña, the focus is the avant-gardes of the 20th century. “We are the leader in cocktail and party dresses with a presence in more than 50 countries,” says Begoña Alvarez Bas, director at the brand. “We are epitomised by the sophistication and elegance for which Spanish fashion is known, and we are looking forward to meeting new customers at this coming edition of Moda.”
The brand line up has cemented Moda Noir’s position as the central hub of the evening and occasionwear sector. For retailers however, the show goes above and beyond merely placing orders, allowing the sort of dialogue that helps to reconnect brands with buyers at the focal point of the season.
“We have some suppliers who are always so willing to support us,” says Tracie Beardsley. “This year Michaela Louisa kindly gave us an outfit for our Royal Ascot competition, and Snoxell Gwyther helped us with a hat. Some of the prom labels are also happy to help us with our Win a Prom Dress competitions, and this really allows us to maximise PR opportunities across social media and in magazines at a very low cost to all involved. More suppliers being willing to help like this would make a big difference to small businesses with small marketing budgets.”
Catch up with the full spectrum of eveningwear and occasionwear brands at Moda Noir this season on 6-8 August at Birmingham’s NEC.