CIFF x Revolver: from a transition edition to their first trip to New York
A new chapter in the fashion trade show sector began in Copenhagen between August 9 and 11. These dates were significant for the Danish capital as they marked the first joint edition of the CIFF and Revolver fairs at the Bella Center, following the acquisition of Revolver by CIFF in January this year. The inevitably lively atmosphere around this transformation set the tone for this combined event. Growing larger and with more global ambitions, CIFF x Revolver will continue its internationalization efforts by making its first foray into the United States this week.
A fresh approach
Expectations were high for this first edition (the 61st for CIFF), as it faced the challenge of remaining true to both fairs individually while creating a new joint identity that would be advantageous and stimulating for participants. In other words, CIFF x Revolver had to be conciliatory and prove that the change was worthwhile, addressing the difficult task of satisfying as many professionals as possible.
The dynamic activity in the aisles and the final attendance figures seemed to support the idea of unifying Danish fashion proposals. This season, the event tripled its number of visitors, exceeding 17,000 (7,000 of them registered on the rainy first day alone). While attendance was dominated by Scandinavian countries, representing 60% of visitors, CIFF x Revolver also saw significant participation from markets like Germany, the UK, Benelux, and France.
With an exhibition area of 20,000 square meters, the fair featured more than 500 exhibiting brands, primarily from Scandinavian markets, followed by a strong representation of participants from the UK, Germany, Italy, and France. The organizers declined to provide detailed data on the total number of companies from each fair when asked by FashionNetwork.com. Once again this season, the invited buyers included a large representation of Italian multi-brand stores, regular buyers from Nordic markets and French, Asian and American professionals.
"As we unite this season and welcome the global fashion industry to Copenhagen, we are filled with confidence and excitement about the trade show experience we have created," stated Sofie Dolva, the event director who took the reins of CIFF last summer, succeeding Christina Neustrup. She emphasized, "At the core of our efforts over the past six months to prepare for the show has been an unwavering pride in the Danish fashion industry and our responsibility to serve as a bridge between Copenhagen and the world. This allows us to showcase to the international market what we stand for and the incredible talent we have throughout the Nordic region." She underlined her intention to approach this edition with "a fresh perspective to create something entirely new."
In terms of innovations, the fair introduced a more pragmatic approach. The layout was less "curated" compared to CIFF's previous setups, and there was a removal of the dedicated sustainability area. The aim was to incorporate environmental responsibility as a fundamental aspect throughout the event rather than isolating it, and there was also a reduction in the space allocated for customary conferences. Essentially, the focus was on adaptability and addressing the immediate business needs in the initial phase.
Regarding the evolving layout, which adopted a more minimalist approach compared to previous editions, the fair's director shared with FashionNetwork.com: "We aimed to create an Ikea-style traffic flow to make it easier for all exhibitors to be noticed. We separated some of the most sought-after or well-known brands while also establishing connecting pathways between them." Nevertheless, the event still featured categorized sections covering accessible luxury, commercial womenswear, emerging talent, circular fashion, footwear, menswear, streetwear, outdoor, unisex, and beauty. Additionally, it included a Peclers Paris space, dedicated to trend forecasting, and introduced culinary experiences to enhance the overall attendee experience. This included the trendy Mangia restaurant space.
Held in parallel with Copenhagen Fashion Week, the combined professional event marked a favorable evolution for Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week. "It's a very good initiative for both the industry and our city, as well as for Copenhagen Fashion Week attendees. Logistically, it facilitates a more fluid and cohesive experience. This union will have a very positive impact on our entire fashion industry," she said in an interview with FashionNetwork.com.
Optimistic and demanding brands
Regarding the requirements of participants after the acquisition, Dolva explained: "What worried many of them was maintaining their usual location alongside other brands, so we tried to respond to their needs while blending proposals to find a fair balance. In this first edition, our priority was not so much segmentation but ensuring a large attendance and a smooth traffic experience. For the next season, we will observe, gather feedback and data, and refine the necessary details." The winter edition of the fair will take place from January 31 to February 2, 2024.
Labrum, a regular participant in London Fashion Week and a CIFF veteran, occupied a central and privileged space with an artistic sculpture inspired by Africa. "I'm very satisfied with my participation; each edition gets better," said Labrum's designer and founder Foday Dumbuya, who is also excited about possible future synergies with international fashion events.
This positive outlook was echoed by well-established brands at the fair, such as the Japanese outdoor specialist Snow Peak, which, on this occasion, set up an outdoor "coffee shop" space. The sentiment was also shared by brands making their debut at the show, such as the local jewelry firm Sorelle or Isnurh, a premium male streetwear brand founded in 2017. Isnurh's stand was among the most visited, having previously gained international attention at the last edition of Pitti Uomo.
"It's our first time exhibiting at CIFF; we used to participate in Revolver. Honestly, the experience has been very positive," stated representatives from the Finnish firm Marimekko. Renowned for its vibrant colors and unique prints, Marimekko had a prominent installation at the fair and also starred in one of the runway shows during the Copenhagen Fashion Week calendar. Other brands such as TG Botanical, Holsweiler, Henrik Vibskov, and Helmstedt, also opted to organize shows while betting on their B2B presence at the event.
The footwear sector was well-represented, with brands like Sebago, Pavement, Buffalo, and Steve Madden participating. Additionally, several agencies that have permanent showrooms at the fair throughout the year represented the sector. Currently, Bella Center collaborates with over 250 showrooms. One of them is Norse Fashion Agency, a sales agency specializing in the Nordic market, which represents brands like Wushu Ruyi and Spanish brands like Bibi Lou, Verbenas, or Hoff. "Hoff is a very popular brand in Sweden," said the agency, noting that the fair was quiet but Hoff had established contacts with excellent clients.
Verbenas, the Spanish footwear firm founded in 2014, expressed the importance of combining their presence at the fair with their ongoing work in the permanent showroom. Verbenas has expanded to more than 60 countries and already boasts over 200 points of sale in the Nordic countries.
Sita Murt, another Spanish brand specializing in premium knitwear, returned to the fair after its first participation a decade ago. Their goal was to "explore the Scandinavian markets and accelerate their international expansion". Representatives from the brand expressed optimism about the results and the significance of the high foot traffic, partly due to their strategic location near brands with similar positioning, such as the French labels Sessùn and American Vintage.
Finally, the area dedicated to beauty brands, one of Dolva's main initiatives since taking over as director, occupied the bright space previously set aside for men's brands. Although participation remained modest, with about 15 fragrance or skincare representatives, several brands, such as Bodyologist, Inuacare or Rudolph Care, returned after their "interesting results" from the last winter edition. In general, the brands celebrated the opportunity provided by the fair and the chance to meet international fashion buyers as the first step in approaching their beauty counterparts.
A Danish selection lands in New York for the first time
As part of its international development, CIFF x Revolver will land in the Big Apple during New York Fashion Week through a collaboration with The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Danish industry association Wear. From September 7 to 9, the Scandinavian fair will have a 20-square-meter showroom located in Mercer and Grand in New York's SoHo.
Under the theme of a commitment to sustainability, CIFF x Revolver will present 12 Danish fashion brands (Hemlstedt, Nynne, Birgitte Herskind, Storm & Marie, and A Roege Hove) in the United States, covering women's fashion, menswear, footwear, and beauty.
Additionally, the showroom will feature a selection of six US brands pioneering sustainability, chosen by the CFDA: M. Patmos, Charles Harbison, Melissa Joy Manning, Julia Jentzsch, Jahnkoy, and Hope For Flowers.
"Our world has never been so connected, but it has never needed us to cooperate together more. It is a privilege to work with our friends at the CFDA to showcase Danish design creativity and innovation, and it is our responsibility to use our shared voice to drive fundamental positive change to protect the future of the industry we all love and value so much," said Dolva regarding the synergies between events.
"The Scandinavian region has always been a global pioneer in sustainability. I am inspired by the opportunity to come together in New York under a common goal and celebrate what unites us," she added.
Nikolai Klausen, director of Wear, expressed pride in the country: "We are proud to be world leaders in sustainability, something deeply ingrained in the thinking of business leaders and consumers." He emphasized that the collaboration between US and Danish brands represents "a progressive approach to transnational cooperation in the fashion industry" and "offers the opportunity to share experiences and inspire each other."
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