Harvey Nichols X CIFF: Breaking the buying chain
By Katharine Smith

This retail collaboration is the first of its kind, shaking up the trade-to-retail-to-consumer model. Senior Events Editor Katharine Smith finds out more.

Oct 25, 2016
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London department store Harvey Nichols is teaming up with CIFF (the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair) trade show to create in-store pop-up retail space until November 27.

This is an interesting collaboration because as we’ve mentioned before on this blog, trade shows are currently in a moment of flux.

First, trade shows talked of opening their doors to the general public, blurring the boundaries between the buyer and the actual ‘buyer’, sending the industry into a frenzy with a threat to the traditional buying chain, jeopardizing the air of mystique that surrounds its events, and transforming the trade show concept into a travelling trunk show to which anyone had access. A change that, unsurprisingly, is yet to really come to fruition.

Today however, this doesn’t seem like such a daunting prospect – with talk of ‘see-now-buy-now‘ the buzz phrase of recent fashion weeks, and even the big-name brands open to the idea of pitching their collections direct to the consumer without delay – the trade show landscape will also be affected by the seismic shift disrupting the very foundations that underpin the industry.

While there will always be brands that will test the water when a change is afoot, so too are there trade shows and of course retailers that are keen to keep up. Enter the Copenhagen Fashion Fair (CIFF). It may not have been a name on the radar of the consumer up until now, but that is set to change, all thanks to Harvey Nichols.

In the first hook-up of its kind, shoppers have been spared a trip into previously unchartered territory – the trade show – as instead, it is coming to them. The carefully curated Scandi aesthetic that CIFF has become synonymous with is now being showcased (and is shop-able) at retail level, as the NORTH WIND installation sets up camp until the end of November in the London department store’s Project 109 space.

NORTH WIND - Project 109 Collaboration

We spoke to Harvey Nichols’ Buying Director, Anita Barr to find out more about the project, what this will mean to the Harvey Nichols customer, and exploring the impact that this straight-to-retail model is having on the buying office.

How does the project sit within a wider strategy for Harvey Nichols? What do you think the collaboration says to the industry?

This collaboration is both a first for Harvey Nichols and for CIFF and symbolises the synergy between our brand and theirs; they share our ethos on product marketing and how to stand out in the market today. The common anchor is that we both support the larger, more established brands alongside niche labels because we understand the importance of constantly inspiring our customers, pushing boundaries and experimenting with design concepts that offer newness. 

CIFF isn’t a traditional trade fair and this collaboration celebrates the dynamic and innovative vision that Kristian Andersen has brought to the sales platform. He has done a phenomenal job in making CIFF a credible platform that not only exhibits fashion product but furniture, art and tech, components that together provide a great insight into the spirit of the city and lifestyles of those within it. The collaboration between ourselves and CIFF is experiential, it’s not just about the clothes people buy, but what makes them tick and the North Wind concept drills down into all aspects of what it means to be modern Viking today, showcasing a concept that taps into the youth culture today.

NORTH WIND - Harvey Nichols X CIFF - Martone Cycles

What proportion of the product on offer at North Wind is exclusive to Harvey Nichols, or the result of collaboration?

The entire offering is part of our collaboration with CIFF and due to the nature of the product being so fresh to market the product offering is entirely exclusive to Harvey Nichols.

With the see-now-buy-now movement rapidly picking up pace, with more and more trade shows presenting close-to-season or seasonless collections, how has this impacted the buying process at Harvey Nichols?

The see-now-buy-now model is a really positive move for both consumers and retailers. We have seen this already with Moschino’s capsule collection, which drops in store the day after the show. Although as buyer’s we don’t get a preview of the package and therefore may receive products that ordinarily we might not have bought, it’s great news for customers who want to snap up the collection fresh from the runway, and we do always see such a positive reaction from our shoppers to these collections.

The instant delivery of the show pieces, will see an end to high street knock-offs, which will be really welcomed by the designers. It will be interesting to see how labels meet the demand of the see-now-buy-now customer, we know our shoppers are after those “wow” pieces, but will they be able to keep up with the demand. Currently they have the option to test the water with retailers before committing to big volumes on production, with the new model they won’t have this luxury.

In bridging the gap between the trade show and the end consumer, how do you see the future of the physical trade show? What does it look like?

In the same vein as the see-now-buy-now model, it isn’t a formula that will work for all brands, given the demands of production schedules and I think trade fairs still have a place in the industry. Trade fairs offer a great insight into what trends are emerging in the market and of course for new discoveries. They provide a platform for small business that may not get a look in otherwise, so it’s a good place to pick up emerging talent enabling us the opportunity to work with brands directly, in a mentoring capacity and help launch them in the market.

Is a collaboration of this kind one that you see having a place across departments in store, or across the wider retail landscape for that matter?

Absolutely, as I said we share the same concept offering as CIFF and this collaboration celebrates that ethos. While this concept is in its first phase, we have received a positive reaction from customers and industry tastemakers and as a brand we will continue to look for new opportunities that deliver on our promise to provide customers with innovative retail environments that caters for their every need and continues to inspire.

The NORTH WIND installation runs until November 27 at Harvey Nichols concept space, Project 109, Lower Ground 1, Knightsbridge.

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