Fashion trade shows thrive on the multi-sensory experience of in-person: the ability to touch fabric, inspect garments inside and out, and be a part of the general creative and commercial milieu. COVID put paid to these events, causing a slew of postponements, digital-only events and total cancellations over the past two years, most recently including Interfiliére Paris, Premium, Seek and Neonyt and The London Textile Fair and the Paris-based Man/Woman event. The impact of these disruptions can be felt across the delicate ecosystem of producers, craftspeople and retailers who have relied on trade shows to grow their business as brick-and-mortar commerce has declined.
Pitti Uomo, the menswear trade show usually on radars for the invasion of #menswear lads looking to make it onto streetstyle reports, made news last month for pressing on with an in-person event in the face of new variants and ongoing travel restrictions. The resulting turnout, seeing roughly half the vendors and less than a quarter of the visitors from the last pre-pandemic edition, was the litmus test for those trade shows planning their offerings for the coming seasons.
As CIFF returns to a hybrid offline/online format for its 58th season today, the question of how to balance the essential, tangible experience of real world events with the accessibility and innovation of digital is going to be top of mind for newly appointed director Christina Neustrup and event organisers. As one of the longest-running trade fairs in Europe, CIFF certainly has pedigree on its side, not to mention the lifting of COVID restrictions across Denmark. This edition will feature a digital/live panel series, on-schedule Copenhagen Fashion Week catwalk presentations, and a focus on sustainability initiatives including new wave vintage and upcycled vendors. What remains to be seen is if these offerings will be enough to lure visitors back to the event, and bolster up business.
CIFF runs from 2 - 4 February, 2022.