If you are building a brand and looking to expand into exports, tradeshows and multi-brand showrooms are one of the sales and promotional tools you will need to consider. Today’s market is all about multichannel with lots of different routes to market. Wholesale is just one of these.
Nowadays, tradeshows and showrooms are not just about showing the collection to buyers and taking orders. The right event can help you to meet online retailers, agents, distributors, press, bloggers and other influencers. Whilst the larger tradeshows tend to be where most companies start out as they should give you maximum exposure, as time goes on more established companies often look to the smaller niche shows or multi-brand showrooms, especially in Paris.
The UKFT Export Team regularly visit the key international exhibitions, shows, fashion weeks and showrooms; we can give you impartial advice on which ones could be right for you, how they operate, who else shows, how you might best approach the organisers, and how to prepare for the show or showroom if you are accepted. We also have valuable, first-hand experience of the ways in which UK exhibitors tackle the shows and the markets.
We administer the TAP (Tradeshow Access Programme) grant scheme for overseas tradeshows in the fashion and textiles sector on behalf of the Government (Department for International Trade – DIT) which offers grants to eligible UK companies towards the cost of exhibiting at selected shows. Exceptionally, we have also managed to add a limited number of professionally organised multi-brand showrooms to the grant programme as long as we have visited and vetted these for quality.
Members and non-members may contact us for a free consultation on tradeshows and showrooms by emailing email@example.com.
We also run a regular ShowTalk event where companies can find out about the shows, how they work and how to apply for the show and grants. Please see our events page for more details and downloads section for reports on previous shows.
Applying for a show or showroom
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In most cases, in the fashion and textile industry, you will need to apply to the show organisers direct for your stand and undergo any screening that may be necessary. UKFT does not normally take space for a British group.
It is not just a question of buying space at these shows; some of them are very selective and difficult to get into and you will be competing with other brands for what is a limited amount of space. At the same time as applying for space, you should apply to UKFT for a Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) grant.
UKFT’s advice is always to visit the show and any competing shows before you apply. Each show works differently: stands at some shows, especially in northern Europe, are organised by agents who make appointments with buyers, other shows may not have appointments but you will need to understand how the shows work in their respective markets. Tradeshows will give you more general exposure to more buyers but multi-brand showrooms in some markets could help you make contact with more elusive buyers.
UKFT can help you to select the right vehicles for your collection once you have visited the show/s. We can explain this in more detail and help you through the DIT TAP grant application process. We can also advise on the best way to make your application appealing to the show organisers and make introductions.
Taking part in a tradeshow is a big investment. Make sure that you make the most of this investment by following this checklist of things to prepare:
Read UKFT’s Making an Exhibition of Yourself
Prepare your own checklist of things you need to include:
Pricelists (in relevant currencies)
Your wholesale Terms & Conditions
Sizing information/fabric details/specifications (not to give away, but this is important information that buyers may request)
Giveaways or gifts
A Proforma invoice for Customs’ purposes (made out to yourself) detailing the samples you are carrying, showing their prices – to show that they are your property. Take several sets with you.
Copies of all paperwork to show which items you have ordered/paid for at the exhibition
Exhibitors or set up passes (these may be in the exhibitors’ manual, emailed or posted to you, or part of your online application)
Do you need an ATA Carnet to take the goods into the country of the show and back to the UK? You will need to arrange your flights to allow for processing time at each airport through which you will travel.
If you are visiting the USA, do you have a current ESTA visa waiver for the USA? If you are not eligible for this, you will need to make an application for a visa to cover your stay. You must have a minimum of six months left on your passport to travel to the USA.
Do you have international travel and health insurance (including repatriation) in case you or your staff fall ill? You will also need to insure your collection in transit and at the exhibition.
What furniture and fittings are required/booked?
Do you need shelves or rails? Are they ordered?
Hangers? Take them with you
Are you planning to run several laptops and phone chargers on your stand? If so, you may need to order an electricity supply.
Do you need a work permit to set up your stand?
Do your flights give you time to set up, break down and leave the show at the appropriate time (i.e. not too early!)? Do not arrange to leave the show before closing time as you may not be allowed to remove your collection, and your DIT grant will be forfeited if you are not present for the entire show!
Do you need extra staff or an interpreter?
Adaptors, chargers, Wi-Fi dongle (if you think you will need a lot of Wi-Fi access)
Do you have posters or graphics for the stand? Are you allowed to put them on the walls?
Are there any restrictions on the maximum height of your display?
Do the organisers insist that you paper the walls of the stand (yes, truly!)
If you are planning to play music, is this allowed or are there entertainment taxes or licences to pay?
Do you need security items such as night sheets, garment bags and chains?
If you are alone on the stand, what happens if you need to leave the stand? It’s best to take someone with you.
Remember to add other items to your own show checklist.
After-show follow up
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Following up with buyers after the show is extremely important. Please remember to do the following after every tradeshow:
Follow up with buyers who haven’t ordered but who left cards or their details. Send them a line sheet and prices, to remind them of what they have seen, and be sure to contact them to invite them to your next shows or events.
DO NOT add them to your company newsletter unless they have specifically requested this in writing. Ensure that your communications do not contravene the General Data Protection (GDPR) legislation which came into effect in May 2018
Confirm orders and all prices to buyers in writing, specifying Payment Terms, Shipping Terms, INCOTERMS, anticipated Delivery Dates and Payment Terms. Always include your standard wholesale Terms and Conditions (as a matter of good practice, these should be sent as an attachment whenever you communicate with a buyer).
If you are dealing with larger orders, ask to see the buyers’ standard terms and any other information you will need to process and deliver the order. Larger stores may have very complicated Compliance, Invoicing, Barcoding and Labelling requirements and if you fail to meet any of them, or if your order is received late, they are likely to cancel the order, issue heavy fines or “renegotiate” a substantial discount at the eleventh hour.
If you are dealing with larger store groups, read all their paperwork very carefully and ask whether they have a “Chargeback” or “Rebate” scheme on their orders. Chargebacks or Rebates are often hidden in a customer’s terms but they effectively allow the retailer to charge the supplier in the event that a certain percentage of the collection purchased does not “sell through” at full price. The industry standard is 60%. If the sell-through falls short of this, some of the larger UK retailers (and still some in the US) will demand money back and in some cases they will deduct this when paying your next invoice (or even from your bank account!).
Check out new customers carefully. If you are working on a Proforma invoice or other “Secure” terms of payment, this is less of an issue but you should still understand who the customer is, where their stores and what they plan to do with the goods. In some cases you may wish to credit check them. It is always worth getting references from other (preferably UK companies) which have sold to them recently on matters such as how they behave, do they pay their bills on time or do they cancel at the last minute?
Be especially careful of any 1-1-1-1 orders (ie a “buyer” ordering just one item of each size per style) – they could be a manufacturer seeking to copy your products.
Be especially careful of any really large orders – these could be being resold into other markets and damage your market in those countries.
Clear written communication is key with buyers. Tell them if there are likely to be changes to what you have agreed or of there may be some delay. If you let down a buyer on delivery, you stand to lose the order and the future business. However, if you communicate with them in advance, there is a chance they may work with you even if there are slight delays or changes.
Make sure you have registered your Trademark in the key markets : UK, EU, USA and China. Your trademark is NOT the same as your domain name, and must be registered separately in each market. UKFT can advise you on the best way to proceed.
The seller is responsible for correct garment labelling. The rules vary from country to country; UKFT members can ask us for the latest information on this.
If you are using the Ginetex Care Labelling symbols (iron with two dots, circle etc) these are not protected by Trademark Registration in the UK, but they are throughout the rest of the world. To use these symbols outside the UK, brands must buy an annual licence to reproduce these symbols. The good news is that this licence is available through UKFT, and preferential rates apply as part of UKFT’s Membership Plus package. Contact Magda McCrimmon for more details firstname.lastname@example.org