Plie Europe commercial director John Pearce reveals how last month’s Salon International de la Lingerie event drastically altered his perspective on the future of trade shows.
No so long ago, at the world’s leading trade show for lingerie, I imagined a future in this beautiful industry where such an event was missing from the European calendar.
My thoughts moved me to write a few words in this very column. Something amazing in Paris has recently changed my mind.
It’s a seven hour drive from our offices in Shropshire, England down to Porte de Versailles on the outskirts of central Paris so there’s plenty of time to think. Putting aside all my worries about European meltdown and the ever-increasing number of direct competitors in my sector (shapewear), I ran through all scenarios of selling and pressing the flesh, and bumping into all those familiar faces.
As suppliers to the retail sector, we are experiencing troubled times and many colleagues I spoke to at SIL were frankly relieved to see the back of 2011 and a little bit fearful of 2012. But the human spirit really is unbreakable and the shared experience of getting through these difficult times gives us all a boost of energy to move forward, to pick up the phone (or Skype) and start selling and telling all over
again. We need these events to see our contacts in all their different guises, even if all we confirm is that we’re still here, still selling and we’re still making plans for the future.
There may be other lingerie shows popping up all over the place and that will have a condensing effect on our events here in the EU, but with brands like Aubade, Baci, Chantelle, Damaris and Empreinte powering ahead in all territories, this only means spreading ourselves a little thinner to make sure we keep in touch with all markets globally. Underwear is a super business. Some say it’s recession proof; some say hard- pushed consumers will opt to buy garments that are on show more often than just in the bedroom.
I happened to see two Greek lingerie boutique owners at this year’s event and a simple ‘thumbs up’ from them was enough to confirm to me that sales events like Salon de la Lingerie are the future, that they are still relevant and they’re the best way to let everyone know that things are getting better. So my mind has been changed to thinking this event will live forever because there is simply no other way to see like minded, hard-working entrepreneurs in one venue, take them out to dinner, introduce them to each other and sell undies.