Translated by
Nicola Mira
Feb 23, 2018
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Comic hero Jean-Louis new B2C ambassador of Première Classe, Who’s Next shows

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Feb 23, 2018

Parisian trade shows Who's Next and Première Classe want to break new ground, and are working on two major themes already heralded at the end of January by the new Deputy General Manager of organiser WSN Développement, Frédéric Maus: the digital experience and the opening of the shows to the general public.

Maus thinks it is time to "stop asking a lot of questions, and get on with it," so the show session scheduled at the Tuileries on 1st-4th March will host an experiment blending these two topical themes: Première Classe will in fact open to the public of non-professional fashion enthusiasts, welcomed by Jean-Louis.

Jean-Louis, a quirky presence at the Première Classe show - par Sutter l’Immortel

Quirky French comic strip hero Jean-Louis is no stranger to Who's Next, since in the last few years he starred in a project lead by Xavier Clergerie, before the latter took charge of WSN Développement again in 2017. Jean-Louis is a standard bearer for French designers and labels, supporting them through a series of events, the Jean-Louis website and e-shop, and a store on La Redoute’s website. And now this fictional character's mission and that of the Who's Next and Première Classe shows have the chance to combine.

Jean-Louis will be a sort of curator for the shows, the embodiment of the first B2C experiment by WSN Développement. From 1st to 4th March, not far from the Paris sur Mode show at the heart of Première Classe, Jean-Louis's own venue will host about forty exhibitors, featuring women's and men's fashion, accessories, lingerie and lifestyle labels, as well as workshops, talks, a food area and concerts, all of this open to the general public at a cost between €20 and €30 for a single or multi-day pass. 

"When we say 'general public', we don't mean strictly speaking everyone. The target includes fashion aficionados, arty types, and in general people who are sometimes frustrated for not being able to access events that are reserved to buyers," said Frédéric Maus.

To make the occasion a truly complete experience, it is obviously necessary to give the possibility of buying products. This is why the forty designers who are taking part in this first experiment will each make available four items from their Autumn/Winter 2018-19 collection for pre-ordering, until 1st April, via an online pop-up marketplace. "It was important for us that the pre-order opportunity applied to the following season; we must respect the rhythms of the fashion profession, support designers and at the same time use the event to educate people about the time that's necessary for the creation of new products," said Maus.

"The idea is to make something happen in this section, something that appeals to a new audience, as well as to regular visitors, who will of course be able to access it. Our idea is to lay the foundations of what may be the future of our profession in five or ten years, and to start propelling the show towards a new era," said Frédéric Maus.

To attract this new audience, and given Première Classe lacks a reputation with end consumers, the organisers launched a series of communication initiatives aimed at the new target, using social media, flyers, a Paris-wide poster campaign and a launch event scheduled on the show's first day. In parallel, ‘curator’ Jean-Louis will also be supported by another exhibition, a pop-up event at the BHV Marais department store featuring forty designers, presenting their summer selection from 26th February until 15th March. As well as browsing among the items showcased by labels like La Seine & Moi, La Môme Bijou, Béton Ciré and Minime Paris, customers will also be able to access, via dedicated tablets, the whole Jean-Louis permanent e-store.

It is the first physical retail sale trial for this amusing concept, and a sort of echo to what is featured at the shows. This fusion of B2B and B2C, and of the physical and digital experience is the new frontier for WSN Développement, as for most of its competitors.

"It's only a start, and the experiment will be extended next September," said Frédéric Maus.

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