Alicia Gimeno on the latest edition of BabyKid Spain+Fimi and its increasing number of international visitors
From January 26 to 28, the pavilions of Feria Valencia once again hosted the professional trade fair dedicated to childcare and children's fashion, BabyKid Spain+Fimi. According to the organisers, the event was marked by internationalisation and post-pandemic recovery. FashionNetwork.com interviewed the event's director, Alicia Gimeno, to analyse the trade fair's strategies and learn more about its growth potential.
FashionNetwork.com: How would you sum up this edition of BabyKid Spain+Fimi?
Alicia Gimeno: It turned out to be a great success in terms of both Spanish and international visitors. The foreign buyers from more than 40 countries took centre stage. On the first day we organised a "preview" with them before the fair officially opened to encourage them to interact with the exhibitors and this produced very good results and helped brands break into new markets. At the end of the fair, everybody was feeling very optimistic.
FNW: What did the exhibitors expect and what did they ask of the organisers for this year's edition?
AG: The exhibitors have their sights set on expanding globally. It has been proven that when there is a crisis, be it a pandemic or a war, it is important to expand into new markets. This is key for the growth of companies and the financial sustainability of their businesses.
It has been a highly international fair, both in terms of supply and demand. Compared to other events in the sector, we are already at the top of the ranking. We offer a hybrid trade fair model that is the only one of its kind in the sector.
FNW: Many of the participating companies claim to record a high turnover in foreign markets. How has the trade fair developed the guest buyer programme?
AG: We have developed it with a trade fair budget achieved from the participation of more than 400 brands. We also have had fundamental help from IVACE and ICEX and, in addition, we work closely with Asepri. The combination of all these components made it possible for us to invite so many international buyers. We are practically tripling our number of invitees.
FNW: What types of international buyers does the fair look for?
A.G: We look for all types of international buyers. We understand that diversity brings wealth. We offer products for both retail chains and small shops, which is why we look for niche markets that are of interest to fashion and childcare exhibitors.
We have found that foreign childcare buyers tend to approach fashion brands with the aim of opening a small corner in their shops. It is interesting because this phenomenon cannot occur the other way around, as clothing shops are much smaller and it is more difficult to include childcare in their offer. Childcare shops of a considerable size have indeed gone over to the Fimi side to try to bring fashion into their establishments. This is a very interesting finding that proves how the link between these sectors can work perfectly and that it is possible to generate multiple synergies.
FNW: Are more and more shoppers looking for a total look or a comprehensive offer in shops?
A.G: BabyKid Spain+Fimi offers every product related to children. That is to say, we cover everything related to the sector: from baby to child or pre-adolescent, including footwear, childcare, cosmetics and toys, which we introduced this time around. Everything related to the world of children has a place in this fair.
In fact, there were so many people interested that we had to increase our floor space from 10,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres. We filled up two pavilions and had a waiting list. Three days before the fair was due to start, we were still receiving applications from exhibitors which we had to decline due to time constraints and the need to assemble stands requiring carpentry and painting. This also gives us great satisfaction and means that we expect to grow even more next year.
This arrangement we have created works very well for both supply and demand. We set no limits for ourselves. We will grow as much as we can grow. There is room for every sector here. The advantage of holding the fair at Feria Valencia is that there are many pavilions and large spaces to accommodate the whole sector.
FNW: In terms of supply, is the adolescent segment still a niche market to conquer?
A.G.: At the moment, we are at an intermediate point. In this edition, the number of participants has grown and capsule collections have been created. It's not a matter of manufacturers taking sizes up to 16, but of creating specific collections adapted for "teens". In this edition, we are observing a certain evolution and there are already corners and racks with this offer. This represents a major step forward.
However, retailers have to do their research. It's a big task. Children have to shop and brands have to create experiences at points of sale, as children are the future consumers. It is the only way to win over teenage consumers. I would like to encourage retailers to transform the shopping experience of younger customers into a unique experience.
FNW: There are more and more footwear brands on offer at the fair. Is this niche one of the fair's forthcoming targets?
A.G: Footwear has grown impressively during this year's edition. There are other specialised showcases that are dedicated to footwear, but we have seen that a children's fashion fair needs to present an entire wardrobe. In this way, footwear has become a very important sector in the fair, as well as accessories and all kinds of accessories. Footwear exhibitors are very happy, although they were initially reluctant, as they generally prefer to participate in specialised footwear fairs. They have seen that buyers who come looking for fashion end up buying footwear and accessories, so we are confident that footwear sales, which are already high, will continue to grow. This confirms that inter-sectorial synergies exist.
FNW: How has the post-pandemic return of fashion shows been received?
A.G: In this edition, catwalk shows had an important role, as last year's edition had to be cancelled last minute due to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. This year, we were surprised that, when we opened the casting call, more than 600 children from all over Spain applied. It has been very exciting to get back to holding normal fashion shows and, in addition, we had a show featuring a group of brands from Andalusia, which has given companies that are not used to having fashion shows the opportunity to present their collections in a different way. It was so well received that several brands have already signed up to participate in next edition's show.
FNW: Which trend would you highlight this season?
A.G.: Without a doubt, this season has seen the return of black. This is very significant. It's a colour that automatically disappears in times of crisis. Its return to the catwalk signifies recovery.
FNW: Could it be said that this edition represents a recovery of the sector as well as a return to pre-pandemic figures?
A.G: We are getting closer. The truth is that the digitalisation that took place during the pandemic has benefited the world of childcare and children's fashion, unlike what happened in other sectors. Buyers who come to us are very well researched. They know the brands and have informed themselves through the internet, so they are very well prepared. Companies have realised this and now come to present their products in a much more spectacular way than before. The style, the staging and the presentation of the collections are carefully considered. Recovery is not only financial but also emotional. It is a way of saying "we are here and we are doing our best".
FNW: How do brands approach this showmanship?
A.G: At the fair, we always encourage brands to present their collections in an appealing way. Especially when you are looking to break into new markets, you need to attract attention. And you only have one chance to create a good first impression. This first impact is created by what you present on your stand. Of course, there are brands that can have great prices, patterns or designs, but the first impression is what matters most when it comes to entering a new market. The presentation of the product is extremely important in our opinion.
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