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Our Trip to Europe

16 Feb, 2023

Design Team Abroad

Three members from our design and production team travelled to the Northern Hemisphere in January 2023, to visit numerous textile and homeware fairs. Trade fairs are a great opportunity to strengthen our relationships with suppliers, forge new connections and see what the rest of the world is creating. Textile and homeware suppliers exhibit at fairs across multiple days, which allowed our team to explore a vast variety of stalls, and made their daily step count look very impressive!

In previous years, Wallace Cotton would attend trade fairs annually. Covid-19 put a stop to this in 2020 so our team was very excited to return this year. There’s nothing like seeing new patterns and designs and feeling fabrics in person to spark inspiration for our future collections. Our team have documented their trip for us, read on to enjoy their experience.

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First Stop: Frankfurt

Our first stop was Frankfurt, Germany, where we landed in freezing temperatures of 2 degrees. Our suitcases were left in transit in Sydney, so the first task was to shop for a few winter woollies to keep us warm. We visited Heimtex, the largest international trade fair for textiles. Typically over 2,400 vendors exhibit, and this year over 44,000 buyers attended, which surprised many exhibitors. We explored the halls for three days.

Heimtex is a great place to source new products, make new connections with potential suppliers and discover emerging trends. It’s also the perfect time to negotiate and strengthen relationships with current suppliers, and be presented with their new initiatives and products. Many of our long term suppliers exhibited, and it was lovely to see them after three years apart. It was also the first time for one of our senior designers to meet suppliers she has been working with. We noticed trends of plain textures, small ditsy florals, and creativity in the sustainability space seen through the use of raw materials such as mushrooms and other natural fibres, recycled plastics and waste. Colours were quite calming; lots of greens and earthy tones.

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Second Stop: London

Next up was London, where we explored their retail scene and visited the homeware fair Top Drawer. This fair was much smaller than Heimtex, only taking one day and focusing on smaller accessories.

Kept busy with plenty of retail research, we noticed the effect of Covid-19 and Brexit on the high streets since the last time we visited. We nearly hit 100,000 steps in under one week, which made delicious wine and comforting meals all the more appreciated at the end of the day! We loved catching up with a handful of our beloved ex-employees who are living in London and missing our Wallace Cotton family on the other side of the world.

Final Stop: Paris

Last on the itinerary was Paris for a few days spent at our last trade show Maison & Objet and enjoying some final retail research. This wonderful homeware fair encompasses the entire lifestyle and interiors sector, catering to French European retailers, where exhibitors are mainly wholesalers and brands selling to stockists.

This show was a great source of design and visual merchandising inspiration, trend spotting, and showcased a few exciting new products. An interesting and unexpected trend we spotted was motifs of lobsters. We look forward to seeing this little creature come to life in collections this year.

We returned to Auckland feeling inspired for the new year and delighted to defrost from the European winter.

Quick Fire Q&A

Q: Was there a particular trend or style which inspired you?

A: We were loving the greens, and have these calm green tones coming through in our upcoming seasons. We are always inspired by nature! – Zoe

A: It was great to see that gingham and checks are still around in a mix of larger and small checks. Also loved the green tones, they are well suited to our market! – Vicky

Q: Which was your favourite city and why?

A: I loved going back to Paris. The unique product range and visual merchandising within retail stores like Merci and Le Bon Marche was inspiring, as is the beautiful Parisienne architecture. – Zoe

A: Definitely Paris. It’s such a beautiful city with lots of history, gorgeous buildings and amazing pastries. It was fashion week while we were there so there was lots of incredible people watching as we strolled the streets, people are so creative with their style! – Vicky

Q: Tell us about a memorable experience while you were away.

A: We walked past the Notre Dame in Paris one chilly morning, it was amazing to see the rebuilding after the 2019 fire. The scaffolding was immense, and it was interesting to see a glimpse of the new timber and the sheer scale of the building in size and history. - Zoe

A: The Notre Dame! The last time I saw it was before the fire so it looked very different, incredible but sad to see. There is so much work to be done to restore it. – Vicky

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