In the five years in which Fira de Barcelona has held the event, the fair has doubled its number of expositors and it expects to exceed 22,000 visitors for the first time.
Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, ready to achieve new records. A pianist entertained the waiting time in the long lines that formed at the doors of the hall half an hour before ten in the morning of last Friday, the opening time of the fair. The large-scale image of a woman dressed in a medieval knight’s net fell imposingly on the music, the tail and the atmosphere of nervousness, restlessness and excitement for accessing a new edition of the Barcelona wedding fashion contest.
Last Friday, the commercial activity took the relay to four days of fashion show, opened by the Malaysian brand The Atelier, which has Jimmy Choo as creative director, and the American Marchesa. International brands have been gaining ground in a show that is still a promotional platform for Spanish firms such as Inmaculada García, Yolancris and Isabel Sanchís, among others. On this occasion, a total of 35 brands participated, 15% more than in 2018.
The fair started with a total of 430 exhibiting firms, of which 74% were international, coming from 34 countries. Given the good evolution of the rate of pre-credentials, which before opening doors was 30% higher than the previous year, the organization calculated that in this edition it would exceed 22,000 visitors from 88 countries.
The Thai brand The Atelier and the US Marchesa opened the last Valmont Barcelona fashion Week
The commercial event has been growing exponentially in the last five years, doubling its size. Before Fira de Barcelona took its reins, the then called Noviaespaña had reached 200 expositors and 10,000 visitors that were called every year almost by habit. The fair organization based in Barcelona took the reins of the event after leaving the project The Brandery, the urban fashion show that wanted to follow Bread&Butter’s trail in Barcelona.
The Brandery did not work, but the knowledge about success and failure that the team acknowledged, first of the German fair, and then of the one from Barcelona, was applied to the bridal business. In fact, the director the fair had in its new stage, Miquel Serrano, took the lead after being at the head of The Brandery. The current director of the event, Estermaria Laruccia, had been the second in charge.
Five years after Fira de Barcelona was designated as the managing entity, the first goals were fulfilled: to gain international weight against other European fairs and to intensify its international presence. Now, the new challenges are to connect the bridal fashion players in Asia and Latin America, and to gather the key offer of the sector.
“It is necessary to have the appropriate offer to attract the appropriate visitors,” claimed Estermaria Laruccia
According to Laruccia, “the bridal business is currently in distant and culturally different countries and if we want to continue beings strong in the sector we must become a platform to reach them.” The director of Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week states that the objective of the fair is not based on growing, but bringing together the key actors of the sector: “it is necessary to have the appropriate offer to attract the appropriate visitors.”
The Generalitat of Catalonia keeps considering this event as strategic for the Catalan clothing industry. The Government continues supporting the event with financial contributions. Last year, the Catalan executive estimated a budget of 730,000 euros for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 editions. Catalonia generates 40% of the international business of bridal fashion in Spain. Apart from being headquarters of two of the largest groups of the sector in the country, Pronovias and Rosa Clará, the region has a considerable amount of specialized companies.
Minister of Enterprise and Knowledge of Catalonia, Àngels Chacón, explained that bridal fashion in Catalonia is one of the economic drivers of the region and that, although it is always said that it is important to create worldwide recognized events, this one really is.
In search of a global business
“This is a living fair, a fair with soul, which releases energy,” said the Italian designer Antonio Riva during the opening act of the fair. Riva, one of the most well-known bridal fashion creators in his local market, participated for the first time in the congress. The designer and entrepreneur attended the event looking for new international contacts, especially from distant regions, such a Middle East or Asia.
Another firm that made its debut in the fair was the Italian Maison Signore, a Napolitan company with fifty years of experience, which is positioned in the highest segment of the market. The company, now led by the second generation of the founding family, participated in the event with plans to enter the Spanish market with a greater impact. At present, its main destinations outside of Italy are the United States and Japan.
The Italian firms Antonio Riva and Maison Signore participated for the first time in the fair
Werner de Vlieger, owner and CEO of the Belgian group Marylise&Rembo, has participated in many editions of the fair in Barcelona. The entrepreneur claims that it is important appointment because the space is shared with the most relevant actors of the sector. “Other fairs are maybe more mainstream, but here we stand closer to creativity and design,” explained De Vlieger.
The New York-based Amsale exhibited in the fair for the second time. Its head in retail and business development, Terry Hall, explained that, unlike other events, this one is sophisticated, but also diverse. “There is a bit of everything for everyone, it does not only focus on a look, a price or a specific client,” underlined Hall, who pointed out that they also want to enlarge their portfolio of international clients.
Among the Spanish brands present at the event was Inmaculada García, who has recently moved her store in Barcelona to a much more spacious new location, where she has added the clothing workshop. García, a regular at the fair, says that it has become a key appointment in the bridal fashion business due to the global size it has taken.
Among the visitors, in addition to the representatives of department stores, shops, representatives and distributors, it is now common to find wedding planners, who have increasingly gotten importance in the market for playing the role of advisor. The Italian Cira Lombardo attended the fair because she claims that Spanish brands are ones of the most requested by brides in her country.
“Pronovias, St. Patrick, Rosa Clará and Jesús Peiró are some of the first brands that Italian brides chose,” explained Lombardo, who highlights that Italian companies in the sector closely follow Spanish ones to find inspiration.