The Shanghai-based trade show Novomania not only switches to seasonal editions and new dates (5-7 March + 9-11 September), but also presents a new concept (please click HERE for more information). We talked to General Manager Guilherme Faria about the background of this development. Interview by Sabine Kühnl

SI: What made you come up with a new concept for Novomania?
Guilherme Faria: We want to develop the show into what the market needs. That means that we evolve with the market. We realized with the last edition that we had become somewhat of a follower, but initially we were a leader. And this what we want to become again in the next year: a leader for the fashion industry.

In what sense will you reposition the trade show?
We want to present a whole new set of designer and contemporary fashion.

When you talk about ‘designer and contemporary brands’, what exactly do you have in mind?
We think about brands that are one step under the luxury market. These might be also smaller labels that are not yet so well known with an individual style for men and women. If you look at street styles in China you see that outerwear matters a lot-men wear casual pants but combine them with a special jacket or coat. Dresses play an important role for women. It is a dressed-up, but at the same time cool and fashionable look that modern and young consumers fancy. We want to mix labels from that segment in our new Contemporary area and feature Chinese brands as well as international names mainly from Scandinavia, France or Italy.

….but what about the denim segment?
Due to our history we were more denim-orientated. But as we all know the denim market is still struggling and so are our core brands. We will reposition Novomania but without letting go of our roots. That means that denim will remain but it will not be as big as before. The denim and sportswear brands will be gathered in the newly created Premium Urban area.

Are you also addressing to new visitors?
Yes, we additionally want to strengthen the number of multi brand retailers visiting Novomania. To reach that we first have to make the brands understand who the buyers are and then bring the latter to Novomania.

We were all under the impression that the multi brand business is not yet that strong in China…
That used to be true, the market was mainly real estate driven which means brands had to make connections with the big shopping malls to open mono brand stores in there. Novomania initially did not start as a buyer’s show three years ago, but the market is in transformation and so we have to transform as well.

What kind of transformation do you refer to?
Well, first of all the shopping mall business is changing because as a fact so many malls opened and will open in the future that there are almost too many now. It is kind of an inflation with the same stores and offer all around. This development clearly pushes the multi brand business in China now.

How about the big vertical chains? Do they succeed in China?
That is actually the second factor that causes transformation. The fast fashion business has an incredible success in China. Zara, Uniqlo, C&A and H&M alone opened 560 outlets in the last two years and all in top locations. They are very successful as there is a demand for very fashionable but affordable clothes–just as elsewhere in the world.

But isn’t that a big competition for brand names?
It puts the typical mid-market brands into trouble for sure, whereas consumers are still into high-end brands. At the same time they look for more individual names from the contemporary sector, be it international labels or Chinese labels that become more and more popular as well. The consumers might not buy total looks in that case, but they combine these rather special and individual pieces with affordable things from the mass chains.

Is the online business considered as a competitor for the evolving multi brand business?
Not at all, I think the highly booming online market rather caters the multi brand development. It is the same phenomenon as in the offline business-people have seen enough mono brand concepts there as well and look for individual assortments and offers now that only multi brand platforms can offer.

Still, you also have offline multi brand buyers and stores in mind as well…
Yes, and if you see the recent multi brand openings in China for example Galeries Lafayette and Corso Como to name only a few, you can tell in what direction we are heading in China.

What can especially the exhibitors expect from the ‘new’ Novomania?
We want to create a more selective type of trade show with about 150 to 200 brands where it is all about quality, not quantity. Our aim is also to offer even more service to our exhibitors by an one on one approach that gives a true guidance to brands depending on what they are looking for, for example partnerships with distributors, licensees or partners to start online business. We will help exchanging contacts in advance and make sure that the brand managers the people at Novomania they need to meet. In January and February we will also do a road show in four big Chinese cities to promote the trade show concept and make more contacts.