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Top Fashion Trade Shows to Attend & How To Prepare for an Exhibit

by Boris Hodakel  • May 22, 2019 • 15 min read

When you’ve started your own clothing line and you now need to prepare to show it to the world, you’ll want to attend and exhibit at one or more trade shows to market your brand. With just a cursory look at the options that are available in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, the UK, and Asia, it's clear to see that you have a plethora of choices when it comes to fantastic fashion trade shows, and it will be up to you to decide where your brand is best placed.

fashion trade shows

What Is a Fashion Trade Show?

Entrepreneur.com defines a trade show as "An exhibition for companies in a specific industry to showcase and demonstrate their new products and services." This source goes on to say that most trade shows aren't open to the public, and only company representatives and press organizations are given access. Fashion trade shows are special events where fashion designers and brand owners show off their new fashions to potential clients and retailers, and these events are held all over the world.

In most cases, the facilitators of fashion trade shows rent out huge exhibition halls where designers show off all the fashions they've been working on during the previous year. Location is important in these types of trade shows, and designers fight tooth and nail for the booth locations that will provide them with the best exposure. While the best fashion trade shows are in fashion capitals like New York City and Paris, pretty much every major city has one of these events at least once per year, which means you'll have the opportunity to show off your fashions without having to travel a great distance.

A fashion trade show allows you to select business partners and gain fame in the fashion industry at one convenient location. Retailers rely on these trade shows for apparel sourcing, so whether you focus on contemporary apparel, children's apparel, or any other type of clothing, a trade fair is one of the first places you should visit as you make a name for yourself as a designer.

List of Top Fashion Trade Shows

fashion trade show stage

According to the popular list aggregator 10times, these are the world's top 10 apparel and clothing events:

  • MAGIC Las Vegas
  • Texworld Paris
  • MICAM Milano
  • International Apparel & Textile Fair
  • Texworld USA
  • Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics
  • Chandigarh Mega Expo
  • Premier Vision France
  • East China Fair
  • Pure London

How to Choose Which Trade Show to Exhibit?

The internet is packed with information regarding each and every fashion trade show available to you. You need to become knowledgeable about all the availability in general and within your niche so that you can make the best decision for your label. This means that research is key; spend enough time exploring the options and give yourself plenty of opportunities to apply and prepare so that nothing is left to the last minute.

UK Fashion Trade Shows

fashion trade show usa

The UK is known for its fantastic fashion trade shows, and buyers flock from all over Europe to attend these events. From major shows known by all buyers and boutiques to smaller independent trade shows with specialist niches, you can find the perfect option within the UK to exhibit and present your brand-new clothing line.

Pure - purelondon.com

Held at the world-famous London Olympia, Pure is attended by thousands of retailers from all over the world. With sections from established ready-to-wear designers to emerging designers, like yourself, you’ll find retailers and boutique buyers arriving ready to add brand-new independent labels to their store portfolios.

Moda - moda-uk.co.uk

With menswear, women's apparel, and accessories offered at Moda, this trade show has become a one-stop-shop for buyers and retailers. Attended by over 9,000 buyers every year, Moda is a big show for selection from retailers, inspiration, and all-important networking.

Pulse - pulse-london.com

When it comes to trends, Pulse is one of the biggest trade shows to attend. If you’re starting with a brand that is very trend-led, this would be the trade show for you. If you hope to be stocked in independent boutiques, you’ll find lots of these types of buyers here filling up on the next season’s trends for their stores.

Jacket Required - jacket-required.com

Jacket Required is a premium clothing trade show based in London at The Old Truman Brewery. Showcasing a curated collection of contemporary menswear, womenswear, and selected accessories, Jacket Required is all about forward-thinking style and is visited by buyers from the likes of Mr. Porter, ASOS, and Selfridges.

fashion trade show catwalk

For a full list of the top fashion exhibitions happening in the UK check out this list here

Specialist Trade Shows

It’s also worth doing your research into some smaller, more specialist fashion trade shows. Depending on the niche of your brand, you’ll find successful trade shows, such as Dot To Dot, which focuses on childrenswear and has grown to be the country’s leading children’s fashion trade show. London’s Scoop International specializes in premium womenswear and accessories from both the UK and internationally, which might perfectly suit your brand. You'll also find London Edge, which has a stronger focus on alternative and lifestyle fashion.

specialist fashion trade show

Europe Fashion Trade Shows

No matter what your budget may be, don’t discount the possibility of heading to Europe to show at one of this continent's hugely successful fashion trade shows. With options worth considering in every country, your specific niche and product line will define where will be best for your brand, so continue to heavily research your options.

Premiere Vision - premierevision.com

One of the biggest European trade shows, Premiere Vision is held in the fashion capital, Paris and it is a must-see for any fashion designer or brand. Bringing together the best in manufacturing, fabrics, and specialists from sportswear to denim, this is the place to come to network and build your business when it comes to industry contacts and enhancing your professional circle.

Pitti Immagine Uomo - pittimmagine.com

If you’re starting a menswear label, this is the trade show you need to show at. As the home of men’s fashion, Pitti Immagine Uomo is where it’s at for men’s clothing and accessories, and it even features a section called MAKE, which focuses on brand-new labels in the world of menswear.

Munich Fabric Start - munichfabricstart.com

As a leading textile trade show in the industry, Munich Fabric Start is where it all begins for many emerging designers and brand owners. Featuring fabrics and accessories from more than 1,000 suppliers, creatives head here to get a taste of what is to come in the industry and get their stores one step ahead of the curve.

Specialist Trade Shows

Berlin offers a variety of more specialist fashion trade shows such as Seek, which focuses on contemporary fashion, to Panorama, which is all about streetwear and casual, alternative styles. Overall, this city provides options for all brands.

Nordic style is huge in fashion right now, so if you’ve created a brand catering to this sort of aesthetic, you’ll want to head over to Copenhagen where you’ll find both CIFF and Revolver.

International Trade Shows

If your budget allows you to travel wherever you want to show at a trade show, you will find a whole new world of fashion trade show options. From the famous Coterie for womenswear in New York City to the diversity of Agenda, which is held in both Long Beach and Las Vegas, showing at an international level will open your business up to a brand-new large-scale market.

USA Trade Shows

usa trade show

LA Textile - californiamarketcenter.com

As a destination for all things textiles and design, LA Textile exhibits hundreds of fabric, trimmings, and textile production services for the contemporary fashion and lifestyle industry. Showing twice a year at the California Market Centre in Los Angeles, LA Textile also hosts seminars packed with industry knowledge and trend presentations alongside the latest business insight that which are open to all.

Premiere Vision New York - premierevision-newyork.com

With a focus on fabrics, leather, design, accessories, and manufacturing for the fashion industry, Premiere Vision in New York City is now in its 19th year. Held at Pier 94 twice a year, Premiere Vision hosts over 250 exhibitors in its five specializations, bringing together industry professionals from all over North America. Attendees can also up their seasonal and business knowledge and skills at the seminars, trend talks, and industry discussion panels that are offered.

Coterie - ubmfashion.com/shows/coterie

Bringing together professionals and suppliers in women’s apparel, accessories, and footwear, Coterie hosts both ready-to-wear and vintage exhibitors. Held in New York City, visit one of the biggest international fashion trade shows, which is host to hundreds of international brand names as well as emerging labels, and immerse yourself in one of the USA’s premier global industry events.

Agenda - agendashow.com

Head to the desert alongside 10,000 buyers from around the globe and you’ll find Agenda, which is held in the heart of Las Vegas at the World Market Centre. The center of Las Vegas Market week, Agenda draws exhibitors from over 1000 international brands who showcase their new season fashion and accessories. Since its inception in 2003, this show has become known for its creative diversity and also hosts the Agenda Festival at Long Beach Convention Centre in California.

A Current Affair - itsacurrentaffair.com

For stores with a vintage vibe, A Current Affair shows three times a year in Los Angeles and twice a year in New York City to bring together the very best vintage fashion and accessories. From vintage denim to all things that sparkle, vintage stores gather to build their collections for the coming seasons.

Canada Trade Shows

Metro Show - metroshow.ca

Held four times a year in Vancouver, Metro Show showcases apparel, footwear, and accessories from hundreds of brands for store owners and buyers on the hunt for the next big thing. Showing since 2012, the Metro Show has become Vancouver’s largest multi-venue apparel buying show. As well as buying for the next season, attendees are invited to listen to the show’s Speaker Series, which covers industry topics such as retail solutions in the current market.

Mode Accessories Show - mode-accessories.com

If you’re in the fashion accessories game, Mode Accessories Show in Toronto is where you’ll find all the seasonal trends and suppliers when it comes to women’s accessories. The trade show has grown since its inception and now includes some womenswear apparel exhibitors, jewelry, fabrics and leather goods.

Australian Trade Shows

fashion trade show australia

Fashion Exposed - fashionexposed.com

Held in the heart of Sydney, Fashion Exposed brings together retailers and buyers from both Australian and international brands at the International Convention Centre. Focusing on apparel, accessories, and footwear, the event hosts over 150 established and emerging labels that exhibit to independent retailers from all over Australia for both womenswear and menswear. Fashion Exposed is a great place to be the first to hear about new labels coming into the Australian and New Zealand markets, you can also attend seminars focused around growing and expanding your fashion and lifestyle business.

Frontline FAB Event - fabevent.com.au

As the top fashion event for Australian retailers, FAB Event is held in Melbourne and showcases hundreds of brands over a two-day period at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Open to all, the event is held twice a year, and it is packed with exhibitors, speeches, and industry seminars. This event is aimed directly at Australian brands on the search for their next collections. With labels in womenswear, menswear, swimwear, and workwear as well as digital services and home living, retailers head to FAB for all things fashion retail.

Ego Expo Australia - egoexpo.com.au

With a focus on streetwear fashion and lifestyle brands, Ego Expo is where you need to be for everything fashion, footwear, music, and street art. Blending urban street culture with traditional trade show exhibitions, including live fashion shows and networking opportunities, hundreds of brands gather at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre for this pop culture, fashion, and lifestyle industry event.

What Are the Best Fashion Trade Shows in NYC?

In addition to Premiere Vision New York and Coterie, there are a number of other trade shows in the Big Apple that you might want to visit as you make your way toward international fashion stardom. For instance, DG Expo is a multi-industry event that includes a textile and trimmings exhibit catering to both retailers and designers. This trade show travels all across the United States, but it is usually in New York City in January.

If you're looking for a more corporate vibe, Texworld USA is an event that you can't pass up. This event is North America's largest expo for fabric buyers, designers, and merchandisers, and it features dozens of different types of fabrics. Texworld USA is held in NYC every January.

There are two more fashion events in New York that you should know about: First, Capsule is a dual-pronged show that features a men's event in January and a women's event in February, and AccessoriesTheShow is the world's biggest accessory expo. Keep in mind that New York Fashion Week, which occurs in February every year, is the best time to visit this city in search of fashion-related networking, sourcing, and selling.

What Are the Best Fashion Trade Shows in Paris?

Premiere Vision in Paris is, well, this city's premier fashion trade show event, but there are plenty of other important opportunities for networking in the City of Lights every year. For instance, Tranoi, which caters primarily to premium fashion designers, takes place in Paris every January, and it's the place to be if you're aiming to break into the world of high fashion. In addition, the Man/Woman Shows both come to Paris in the first few months of the year, and Who's Next is a popular international fashion show aimed at women.

What Are the World's Most Important Trade Shows?

In the end, the most important trade show will be different for each designer or apparel entrepreneur. While it's true that events like MAGIC in Las Vegas and Pure in London are internationally renowned, but you might find a less-acclaimed trade show in your local area to be more important to your personal or business growth.

That said, if you're a fashion worker living in the United States, there's no excuse not to go to Texworld USA or Premiere Vision New York. Likewise, designers in Europe should attend Premiere Vision France or MICAM Milano at least once every few years to stay on top of the latest trends in the world of fashion.

How to Prepare for Your First Trade Show as An Exhibitor

preparing for fashion trade show

Here are some of the most important steps you'll need to take as you get ready to show off your new fashions at a trade show:

1. Set Some Goals for The Show

What do you want to actually achieve at the trade show? Define these goals and stay focused.

2. Do Your Research

This means putting the time into finding out where your target customer attends to buy stock and narrowing down your options purposefully. You will also need to research costs in the early stages as this will undoubtedly affect your decision.

3. Make Appointments in Advance

Don’t think your target customer will just come to you. You need to market yourself on the lead up to the trade show to make the very best of it, which includes contacting your desired retailers in advance and attempting to make appointments with them to guarantee they see your products on the big day.

4. Brand Your Booth

It’s very important for your booth to instantly speak to your buyers and story-tell your brand identity. From the décor to the staff to the smaller details, such as business cards, this all needs to be resolved in advance.

5. Be Prepared

Never “wing it.” Prepare your pitch for all your product lines and know your information regarding manufacturing, fabrics, minimum order quantities, and pricing. Once you’ve caught a buyer’s attention, don’t let it slip by offering an unprepared, unorganized dialogue.

6. Check Your Logistics

Check and check again your timing for everything. If you’re having extra stock made, ensure it will be with you well in advance. If you’re bringing in new items for the booth, don’t leave it until last minute, and ensure your travel arrangements are tight so you don’t lose a minute when it comes to setting up.

7. Follow Up

You are bound to meet a wealth of new industry contacts during the time you spend at a trade show (both as an exhibitor and an attendee), and you need to ensure that you make the most out of every introduction. Where you can throughout the event, write yourself notes on the people you meet whether that’s adding a few details to a business card to keep your memory clear following the event or keeping a notepad on hand. Follow up on your introductions after the event, even if you’re not directly conducting business. This broadens your industry contacts professionally and keeps your brand or business at the forefront of people’s minds.

With an excess of choices as you select your first trade show, the first thing to do is to start narrowing down your options by deciding which shows wouldn’t be quite right for your brand. You need to find out where your target customer will be and focus all of your attention on these specific shows even if that entails an international trip.

When Do Fashion Trade Shows Take Place?

Fashion trade shows take place all throughout the year. Generally, it's more common to find these shows taking place in the first few months of the year as designers and retailers prepare the new fashions that they'll be offering for the next 12 months. However, these events continue to take place throughout the rest of year, and it's common for traveling fashion trade shows to offer a number of different events as the seasons progress.

How Long Does Preparation Take?

Preparation can take as long as little as you want. Once you've been hitting the fashion trade show circuit for a while, however, you'll start to find that preparing for these events is a year-round endeavor; you'll always be looking forward to the next event, and you'll constantly be coordinating with your new contacts and favorite brands to figure out the next step in your collaboration.

In general, you'll want to spend at least a month preparing for a fashion trade show. Once you know that you'll be attending a particular show, it will be time to start reaching out to your contacts, arranging plane tickets, and booking hotel rooms. Depending on the popularity of the show you'll be attending, you may want to make logistical arrangements well in advance; attendees of Fashion Week in New York City, for instance, often make hotel reservations for the next year while they're still in town.

The week before the show will be all about figuring out how to transport your fashions without causing any irreparable creases or wrinkles. When you're showing off an entire line and flying commercial, getting all of your fashions to the right place at the right time can be a hassle, so you might want to hire an assistant to help you get things done.

How Not to Fail a Fashion Trade Show

how not to fail a fashion trade show

If you follow these simple tips, success at your trade show is all but assured:

1. Be Prepared

While it might be impossible to fully prepare for your first show, learn from experience and tackle things head-on next year. Make a thorough plan for the entire event, keep your smartphone handy, and prepare for the questions that potential buyers and business partners might ask.

2. Don't Panic

Your first show will be overwhelming. With so many new settings, experiences, and faces, it's natural to be at the brink of a nervous breakdown after your first day as an exhibitor. Take some time to relax, enjoy some drinks at the bar with your new contacts, and do some sightseeing to take the edge off.

3. Be Friendly

Remember that first impressions are everything. While your fashions will help you stand out if they're worth their salt, your face will say so much more than the apparel you're selling. Stay upbeat, courteous, and professional, but most of all, make people realize that you're fun to work with.

4. Be Adventurous

When you go to a trade show, you're stepping out of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to try new things, and recognize that you're about to embark on an experience like no other. However, don't let down your guard; remember that you're at the show for business first and pleasure second.

5. Pay Attention

As a designer, your eye for detail is one of your key attributes, and this hyperfocus will come into play at your trade show in a big way. Make mental memos for all of the people you meet, and jot down notes about potential business partners that will help you break the ice. Most of all, do your best to take in everything that's going on around you; there's a lot to learn at your first show.

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About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.