January 22, 2013

Modefabriek winter 13/14

Hi, I'm back!
In the previous post, I promised to try and do some non-sewing posts last week. Well, I tried and failed. 
Certified ecological fabrics can be hard to find, so sourcing material for her collections often takes M a long time, and this time around it was worse than ever: we didn't take delivery until Thursday before last...
Since then, we've been working non-stop to complete the collection in time for last Sunday's and Monday's trade show. I spent the past week and a half working eleven-hour days and slogging through the snow to get to and from the studio (the Netherlands were hit with a cold spell, including heavy snow last Tuesday and Sunday). Which turned out to put a serious damper on my blogging mojo... I'm sure you'll understand. 

After that, it was two days of standing around in high heels, smiling kindly and generally trying to make the best possible impression on anyone who took the time to stop at our stall. All the big brands send their crack sales people to such events, and with good reason... I'm by no means a natural at this so I find it very tiring. 
Fortunately there were the three of us: M herself, me and a girl who recently did work experience with her and has that elusive social talent. 
And fortunately, the new website for the label, Sena ecocouture, was finished just in time (the English version isn't finished yet and this new collection we took to Modefabriek is not on the site or obvious reasons. But can have a look at the collections for autumn/winter 12/13 and spring/summer 13. Oh, and it's not a webshop and, at least for now, the clothes are only available in a few stores in the Netherlands. Expanding points of sale is why we go to trade shows...).

M and EL at our booth, getting ready for the day ahead.

Attending a fashion trade show may sound glamorous but before you start thinking I lead some enchanted fashionable life, let me explain. ;)
This is not Fashion Week (even though the event takes place at the start of the Amsterdam Fashion Week). There are no runway shows, no celebrities, no models (although some brands have a couple of models at their stall) and no superstar designers. 
This is a giant event space which is converted for two days each season (in January and June) into a giant shopping center for shop-owners and -buyers. At    Modefabriek there is a lot of womenswear, there's also menswear, jeans and some accesoiries like bags, scarves and shoes (there are separate trade shows for children's wear, plus sizes, bodyfashion and real outdoor and sportswear). Brands either rent their own booth or are represented by t-heir Dutch agents. 
In the main sections, the booths look like little stores with three walls, open the aisle. Brands dress up this shop-space in their own colours and bring in manequins, furniture and props. They may also use such means as champagne, cocktails, sweet or savory nibbles and goodie bags to lure in the buyers (although this time, that seemed to be done less than before). 
In some smaller sections, different rules are set to allow smaller brands with smaller budgets to be present as well. 

This time, the old "young designer" platform had been replaced by a section called "Refined +" which included young designers presenting their brands as well as a selection of other small high-end labels. Here, booths were smaller, more uniformly furnished and only separated by white curtains. 

In "MINT", the section we were in, effort is made to create an experience which is more 'market square' than 'shopping mall'. There are no dividing wall between the booths and all of those are furnished in the same way. In the central pavilion, there is a cafe, a small shop (a real one, selling novelty goods) and a DJ playing music. Only 'ethical fashion' is allowed in MINT. This means all goods shown here are either ecological or fair trade or both. 

I didn't take detailed pictures of any of the stalls because a lot of brands get very nervous about protecting their designs. 

Next to the serious shopping business, the was also a display of menswear made by fashion students of the Royal Academy of Arts. Not very wearable, but fun to look at.
And there is always this bit: called "Trash and Treasures" it's a bit like Etsy in real life: a shop space for vintage, second hand and artsy hand-made stuff (more of the latter this time). In this case, it looked particularly dramatic with the dip-dyed second hand wedding dresses hanging from the ceiling. Those were actually dyed on site and for sale...

Although I did get to walk around a bit, the vast majority of the past two days I spend at our own little stall, with increasingly painful toes... This morning, I slept late for the first time in two weeks. Over the course of the coming week, normal life will resume. 


  1. It may not be Fashion Week glamour but it is fascinating to read about nonetheless. Thank you for sharing.

  2. OK, I know it was a heck of a lot of work for you, but that sounds AMAZING and like so much fun. So awesome.

    Good luck resting up, and getting back to your own stuff! :)

  3. It sounds like it was a lot of work, but a bit of fun too. I went to a fashion trade show here in the US (the MAGIC show in Las Vegas), where I helped out a designer/friend at her booth. It was an interesting experience. It actually reminded me of when I used to work at our company's booth at medical congresses to promote our new medications -- same concept of being friendly to booth visitors, but without the music and cool clothes!