Get Ready for Trade Show Season - the Ultimate Buyer Guide

Get Ready for Trade Show Season - the Ultimate Buyer Guide

Whether you're the owner of a small independent boutique or a member of a buying team at a multi-national retail chain, the fashion trade show is an integral part of your working calendar. Taking place all over the world, many buyers travel for miles to attend shows to get a feeling for new trends, hear industry news and source new suppliers. The Spring/Summer trade show season starts in Winter so it's time to start planning which shows you will be attending, and how to make the most of them. You can find a full calendar of the upcoming trade shows here, but in the meantime take a look at our top tips to make the Trade Show season the highlight of your fashion year


Before boarding your flight to Tokyo or catching the train to Birmingham you may want to do some background work. What trade shows offer the type of brands which will suit your customer base? Some shows tend to concentrate on high-end labels, while others specialise in independent brands, material sourcing or specific product groups. Once you've narrowed down which shows will be of most interest, it's time to find out who will be exhibiting. Most Trade Show websites display a full list of participating brands well in advance, so it's worth doing your research. In a hall full of a thousand brands its impossible to see everyone, so prioritise what you want to see and where those companies will be exhibiting - a little pre-show ground planning can save you from going round in circles on the day.

Travel arrangements

As you become a more frequent traveller to trade shows you will get to know which ones suit your business needs better, be it creative design inspiration, buying stock, or researching new brands. Therefore once you are loyally travelling to that show every season you can book flights, trains, accommodation and transfers in advance. By booking the same hotels or using the same travel Management Company or agent each season you may be able to get advance booking or loyalty discounts, particularly if you book well in advance. With food and general expenses trade shows can prove very costly so you need to ensure you keep to a tight budget as best you can to maximise your end profit.


Upon arrival the whole trade show itself can be a giant spectacle of companies to visit, meetings taking place, catwalk shows, presentations on the latest trends, fashion industry updates and more. It would be wise to make sure you maximise your visit by ensuring you can fit in everything which you think will be of interest to your business - it's a great opportunity to hear from the industry authorities about issues that may be important to your business.

Do your calculations

Buyers need to be ultra-organised and know what budget they have for purchasing new deigns for the next season. You will need to know how many stores you're stocking and what amount of stock you will need to order for each. It is always a calculated risk when trying new brands and it may be worth making smaller first-time orders to ensure that you’re not left with too much excess stock in designs which may prove unpopular with your customer base. Doing prior calculations will ensure you maximise productivity for the coming season. Also its important to remember, you don’t necessarily have to order everything on the day – if you see a brand you like, find out how you can buy from them moving forward - you may be able to restock with new discoveries later on in the year.

Be prepared

Attending a trade show means a few very busy working days ahead, so be sure to prepare yourself fully for what your about to embark upon. Make sure you are equipped with a wheelie case, easy to carry light shoulder bags or pull along briefcase with enough storage for all the brochures and samples that you will collect along the way. A basic survival kit of pens &pencils to maybe do a few sketches; water and a snack; maybe an iPad to take pictures or do calculations on. You will need to pace yourself and possibly pencil in time to drop off baggage between appointments or have a small break. Comfortable clothes and shoes are essential whilst not compromising the image your brand portrays.

Trade shows are a vital part of any retailer's business, and also a great opportunity to research what’s new in the fashion industry. But remember, TradeGala is a great supplement to trade show visits as we have done the leg-work for you and sourced top fashion brands for you to purchase online in one easy to use website, throughout the year! So what trade shows will you be attending this year? Maybe we’ll see you there!

Written by: Luanne McLean

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