Coterie Trade Show Experience
My First Fashion Trade Show
For the first time in my life I got to observe Fashion Buyers at work, as well as learn more about being a designer and the process of selling clothes to different retail stores. It's been a very eventful and fun weekend and I'm very grateful. So let's get to sharing the what I learned.
Who is a Fashion Buyer?
In the retail industry, a buyer is an individual who selects what items will be stocked. Buyers usually work closely with designers and their designated sales representatives and attend trade shows, wholesale showrooms and fashion shows to observe trends
What is Coterie?
COTERIE is the premier global event that connects women's apparel, accessories, and footwear designers with the international 'who’s who' of retailers. COTERIE builds exclusive shopping experiences from the ground up so that brands and buyers can create synergies that fuel their businesses. - https://www.ubmfashion.com/shows/coterie/
I was at the Coterie Trade Show for two days out of the three helping the Private Women's Wear Label I'm working for now. I was definitely thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to be there. Can I just say, the decor at this show was EVERYTHING, from beautiful florals to hanging lights and bird cages, pink carpets and sofas - so so beautiful.
Upon arrival at our booth, I was given permission to take a tour of the premises since clients weren't arriving for another hour or so. I definitely needed more than an hour to explore the three floors, filled with exhibitors' booths well decorated to suit their individual brand aesthetic. So I spent time on the main floor (which is where our booth was), taking a look at the vintage section which had so many cute items - mainly accessories - I wanted to get for myself but had to hold back because, i would have to purchase items in bulk since they are all selling at wholesale prices to Buyers; plus -a sis is tryna save
Walking past the different booths I got to see so many different brands - some I know of and others I had to google which I loved because I realised there are SO MANY FASHION BRANDS jeez, talk about competition.
Later, on my loooooong break, I went to the lower level which was my favorite because the decor by the individual brands were SPECTACULAR! Rachel Zoe was representing, Odd Molly literally had a cherry blossom tree in the middle of their booth. Brands like Free People and Joie looked like clothing consulting agencies ready to give you whatever you needed - they were ready! A few brands had fit models, which I thought was a brilliant way to show their Buyers how the clothes fit on the body.
Day two, I decided to explore the top floor which was for evening garments so brands like Aidan Mattox, Adrianna Papell and many more had their clothes on display. But I loved that floor because of the balcony with the view of the booths on the main floor as well that of NJ on the other side of the water (don't have a pic of that) - this is also where the breakfast and lunch buffets were served.
Basically the process of buying at trade shows goes like this:
Buyers would come in to the individual booths of brands who's clothing or accessories they are interested in and they would be treated to a presentation of the different collections the brand has. The brand gives them line sheets with the different clothing or accessories in flats with their style numbers printed beneath so the buyer is able to choose what they want as well as the amount and sizes they'd need for their stores - prices are also printed on the side so they know what they're getting into. It's pretty simple tbh. They are then given delivery times and options and that's it! Most brands at this point have their regular clients who have been scheduled to come in but ofcourse they also take new clients who may be attending the show for the first time or looking for new products to stock in their stores.
The only down side to this personally was that as I walked the booths, inquiring and touching products, they all looked the same, felt the same, the only difference was the decor; and that made me pretty sad. With such a large crowd of over a hundred people showing their works I expected to see a variety creative pieces but the silhouettes were all the same, with tiny tweaks here and there. Maybe because that's what people are buying today, or maybe brands are not thinking outside the box, simply following trends that would make them money instead of sharing boldly their creative minds which would also inevitably make them money tbh.
All in all - a fun and eye opening experience :)