“We’ve undergone a total transformation” Gilles Lasbordes

This coming June 30 and July 1, Première Vision will be holding the Fashion Rendez-Vous, a “reunion” show bringing together exhibitors and visitors in the Temporary Grand Palais, set to reopen on the esplanade of the Champs de Mars. As we count down to the event, Gilles Lasbordes, Managing Director of Première Vision, takes a look back at the past year and the changes the Group has made to bolster its digital offer, while highlighting some possibilities for the future.

How has Première Vision weathered this unprecedented crisis, which has impacted the entire fashion industry?

            Being unable to organize any physical, in-person events, we focused our efforts on digitizing our services, and accelerating our digital transformation. Starting back as early as 2018, we had already developed a Marketplace so that manufacturers could display their product catalogs and assist buyers in their search for materials. This gives all exhibitors a way to present their collections online and provide technical and style details via product identity sheets. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of images on the platform has exploded: the catalog now contains 50,000 references. Buyers can now browse through over 25,000 fabrics alone.  

What strategic measures did you implement to speed the digitalization of the offer?

We’ve undergone a total transformation. We developed new streamlined features to encourage suppliers and buyers to get in touch with each other, and help buyers order fabric samples as easily as possible.

            We also restructured our trend decoding offer by publishing analytical articles illustrated with select products, and videos in which the fabric is held in the hand, giving buyers an idea of how it falls and moves. Première Vision’s fashion team produces editorial and informative content to guide brands in their research, focusing on style directions as well as innovation and sustainability. All the content can be found under the “Magazine” heading on our site, which now brings together all our shows.

            To stay connected with our community, we also organized webinars and released podcasts. During the digital trade show last February, some 500,000 web pages were accessed from 110 countries around the world, which proves that the digital transformation is well underway.

            To further strengthen this approach, we are planning to organize monthly meetings around trend themes or product highlights, as a way to regularly update our decodings.

How are you planning the return to physical events?

            In terms of our resumption schedule, we are starting on June 30 with an exclusively physical Première Vision event. The idea is to allow French buyers (and those from neighboring countries) in the industry to come together again in advance of the more international shows in September. All activity sectors – weavers, tanners and accessory manufacturers – will be represented. Nearly 200 exhibitors will be on hand over the two days.

What will the hybrid mix of real and digital worlds look like at Première Vision?

            A certain number of our shows will in effect be hybrid, such as Première Vision Paris and Denim Première Vision, while others will be exclusively in person, such as Première Vision New York and Première Vision Sport in Portland.

            The digital offer put in place in parallel to the physical events will enable buyers to prepare their visits as effectively as possible, as well as allowing them to pursue their research online after their visit to the show. The idea is to offer the best of both worlds from an omnichannel perspective. If some buyers are unable to travel due to health restrictions, they will be able to follow the events online, with our now optimized digital tools.

Given the urgent need to protect the environment, what are the key measures initiated by Première Vision in terms of eco-responsibility?       Materials are at the heart of consumers’ eco-responsible concerns, as studies show. At Première Vision, our mission is to help manufacturers and buyers tackle these issues, which is a major responsibility.

             In 2014, we launched the “Smart Creation” program to promote our exhibitors’ eco-responsibility initiatives. We also monitor and survey the market to identify new players who are developing alternative materials or new recycled fibers. We offer a search filter on our Marketplace so that buyers can select certified and labeled products. And at the same time we have put in a substantial amount of work to analyze and verify these certifications.

The health and economic crisis accelerated certain changes that were already underway. How do you see the future of the fashion industry?   For companies, mastering the supply chain is critical. Where does a garment come from? How was it made, by whom and under what conditions? Consumers are seeking transparency, and the fashion industry has no choice but to lift the veil on its production methods and materials supply chain.

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