Why the WOMAN trade fair only shows 100 brands

Antoine Floch
teamed with business partner Olivier Migda to launch the MAN/WOMAN
series of trade shows seven years ago after spending several years in
the trade show circuit and noticing an element of overcrowding in the

“For many years I was listening a lot, not talking too much, just
listening to what brands were saying, what buyers were saying,” Floch
told FashionUnited at the most recent WOMAN show in New York. “A lot
of people were feeling that the trade shows were becoming too big and
that they didn’t feel like going to a show filled with 300 or 400
brands. Brands and buyers were saying the same.”

Why the WOMAN trade fair only shows 100 brands

MAN/WOMAN is unique in that each show only takes 100 brands. The
shows are kept small so as to not overwhelm buyers looking for new
brands and to ensure each brand showing gets a fair amount of facetime
meeting buyers and press.

“The idea of the show from the beginning was to focus on two
things: on one side is the brand and the other side is the visitors,”
Floch explained. “When a brand attends a trade show, they want to sell
the collection to buyers and they want to talk to press about their
brand. We select the brands very carefully, a lot of trade shows just
want to fill up a space.”

Floch has found himself turning away close to 250 brands to
maintain MAN/WOMAN’s limit of 100 brands. The team looks into every
aspect of a brand when determining which are the right selections for
the show, considering elements that they know buyers are also looking
for, such as style, price point, waste produced, brand identity and

Why the WOMAN trade fair only shows 100 brands

“Many times at big trade shows, brands don’t take orders,” Floch
added. “But here, buyers are writing orders and brands are leaving
with order. This is very important because there’s nothing worse for a
brand to show and then not have the orders, and then they’re spending
three weeks trying to talk to the buyers and sending 10-15 emails to

It is also important to Floch to have time to connect with each
brand shown during the event. Brands walk away from the event with a
lasting relationship with the show’s producers, and Floch and his team
gather more insights as to what brands are finding most beneficial in
a trade show.

Why the WOMAN trade fair only shows 100 brands

Floch noted that he is considering changing formula for WOMAN based
on feedback from the brands he has worked with. This would reduce the
amount of brands showing, but offer these brands more services and
lengthen the show to longer than its current three-day run.

The MAN/WOMAN trade shows are held four times a year in each Paris
and New York, and twice yearly in Tokyo. Shows each run for three
days. However, the Tokyo editions are quite different from its western
counterparts as it is intended to function more as a presentation than
a trade show. Twenty brands are included, each given a space to create
an installation that introduces its brand to the Japanese market. At
the same time, brands meet Japanese industry

figures across buying
and PR to learn the region’s market and how to sell in it. The next
Tokyo show starts on March 17.

A look inside the WOMAN show in New York

Held between February 23 and February 25, brands from across the
world gathered at the most recent New York WOMAN show. According to
Floch, about 80 percent of the visitors to the show came from North
America and the rest from Asia.

Amongst the brands shown were New York-based denim label CIE, which
makes one-of-a-kind items by incorporating repurposed materials such
as sweatpants or blankets into its products, which it then sells from
195 to 1100 dollars. CIE has sold direct-to-consumer on its ecommerce
site to a mainly U.S. based consumer range since its launch in January
of 2018.

Sustainable LA-based brand Fair Cloth & Supply was founded 2013. It
sells an array of sustainably made products, which are manufactured by
small factories in India who empower women. Fair Cloth & Supply has
thus far sold its handmade, minimalist collection direct-to-consumer
both online and through pop up stores. It is launching its first brick
and mortar store in LA later this month.

Why the WOMAN trade fair only shows 100 brands

Similarly, LA brand, Burning Torch, has been selling mainly
direct-to-consumer for 20 years both online and through a standalone
store. Its clothing, which sells with an average price point of 400
dollars, was based on an incentive to create only upcycled items.
While its womenswear offering has since expanded, there is always at
least one upcycled piece in each collection. The brand noted that its
upcycled cashmere tends to be a consumer favorite.

Angie Bauer, another LA-based designer, focuses on remaking classic
silhouettes using alternative fabrications that focus on comfort and
fit. The brand, which launched in 2017 and mainly sells
direct-to-consumer, uses fabrics like hand-woven silk from Vietnam or
a silk-cotton blend that looks like silk but wears like a cotton.

Photos: Monet Lucki, courtesy of Mode PR


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