Home / News / Update on government support for physical and virtual fashion and textile tradeshows

Update on government support for physical and virtual fashion and textile tradeshows


UKFT continues to work on behalf of the industry to get the best deal for companies, including on tradeshow support.

At present, Pitti Uomo, Pitti Bimbo and Pitti Filati are scheduled to take place physically on 21-23 February. The Paris Men’s and Women’s Fashion Week and Who’s Next shows are currently slated to take place physically around 4-8 March. Intertextile Shanghai is set to take place from 10-12 March.

DIT Tradeshow Access grants are available for these physical shows. Contact noleen.willis@ukft.org for details and grant applications. NB grants may be withdrawn by DIT if the FCDO advises against travel to the market at the time of the show. In these circumstances, DIT would potentially agree to support companies with a grant if the brand was represented by an agent, but companies will be required to provide documentary proof that their stand was manned by a local agent.

Most of the other key fashion and textile trade events are running virtually (or “digitally”) only in January-March. Key virtual only events include:

  • Playtime
  • Project Men’s on NuOrder
  • Coterie on NuOrder
  • Magic on NuOrder
  • Tranoi Connect
  • Lingerie Connect (organised by Salon de la Lingerie and Curve)
  • Première Vision Paris
  • H + H

UKFT has been working extremely hard to encourage the government to extend Tradeshow Access Grants to companies who would like to show at a virtual trade fairs. However, despite continued lobbying and despite having received support from the Department for International Trade, it is extremely disappointing that the UK government has still not agreed to make the existing funding available for use at virtual trade fairs.

Whilst the jury is still out on the effectiveness of some of these platforms in generating actual sales, they remain the only option available for many companies in the immediate future and the signs are that they are here to stay even after physical shows become the norm again. The UK needs to be visible in key international markets to recover from Covid-19 and reassure the world that the UK is still open for business after Brexit. However, if UK businesses continue to be absent from these platforms, the UK’s competitors will take advantage of the situation.

There is a direct correlation between the level of grants offered by countries like Italy and the number of companies from those countries showing on these platforms. At last season’s New York events, with the Italian government providing 100% funding there were over 80 Italian companies participating, whereas with 0% funding from the UK government there was zero participation from UK companies.

UKFT works very closely with the government and is supportive of its work in securing new Free Trade Agreements. But if the UK is not actively promoting itself to buyers, Free Trade Agreements will not help companies to grow their business. If the government has decided that it will not be able to help UK companies to show at key virtual shows, then companies should consider doing this for themselves without a grant if their finances will allow.

Looking at 2021, UKFT anticipates that wholesale business will begin to grow from Spring onwards, especially as we approach Summer. Direct to Consumer will remain an important trend and will challenge traditional wholesale routes to market, but in some of our key export markets such as Japan, China and the Middle East we are already seeing some signs of activity so companies are going to need to look at their promotional budgets very carefully and decide what they can afford to do and what will give them the best return on investment.

UKFT is here to help you throughout this process. We can explain the challenges and opportunities 2021 will bring and help you to make sense of the digital tradeshow environment. We can also help you, potentially with a TAP grant, at any of the physical shows you may wish to show at. Despite the lack of action from government, we will continue to lobby for support for UK companies attending virtual events.

Whether you are eligible for grants or not, we are here to help you make sense of tradeshows and virtual platforms and how these investments can work for your business.

If you would like to apply for a grant for a physical show, please email noleen.willis@ukft.org

UKFT has a series of guides available to help UK fashion and textile brands in their export journey. These include:

  • UKFT Guide to Digital Wholesale (available to UKFT members only)
  • UKFT Guide to Exhibiting at International Tradeshows (available to non-members)

If you would like to talk through the virtual tradeshow options, please email paul.alger@ukft.org