Last weekend me and Mrs HYA took a trip down to London from the cold, dark North to enjoy the perks of the bustling metropolis, and also to check out the Margin tradeshow after HYAs absence from the show for five long years. I was going to pop down last Summer but show founder Odysseas had to cancel due to the Olympics putting a spanner in the works. This years second edition will be going ahead and HYA fully intends to be there too after enjoying this visit so much. This trip was also the first time ever that I met one of the other bloggers at HYA, namely Doug who has been part of the team for a year now. Turns out he know A LOT about art and I don’t, which I think made for a pretty deadly double act when talking to brands.
Doing what I do you tend to ‘meet’ a lot of people, but there’s only so much that you can gain over e-mail compared to meeting people face-to-face and seeing what they’re passionate about and the amount of enthusiasm they have for their brand. It’s also great to see the products in the ‘flesh’ since lookbook photos and mockups can only tell us so much. Also, it turns out that when I talk, I tend to talk a lot, visiting just the t-shirt-y brands at the show me and Doug managed to clock up getting on for four hours chatting with people about the ins-and-outs of the industry, at one point we had to take a water break. Were we thorough? Yes we were.
Rather predictably for the UK (even in the tropical South) it was raining, but fortunately the show was well located at The Music Rooms about a minute or so from Bond Street station (and hipster burger restaurant Meat Liquor, where me, Doug, and Mrs HYA enjoyed burgers and cocktails in the dark). After signing in at the reception we went into the main room filled with brands eagerly waiting to show off their clothing. The initial impression you get shows a big difference between Margin and other tradeshows, everyone is equal, and it isn’t so big that it’s overwhelming. All the brands at Margin are small up-and-comers, a lot of which have never exhibited at a show like this before, so it’s good for them to get their feet wet in a smaller environment with like-minded people rather than being stuck in the corner at a larger show and being over-shadowed by bigger brands. It’s also a great opportunity for smaller boutiques to pick up interesting new labels to sell in their stores, though there is a lot of interest from larger entities too, I did see a few Drapers business cards around the show, which is arguably a bit bigger of a deal than HYA. I don’t know of any other tradeshow that caters to smaller brands in the same way that Margin does, if you do let me know because I’d love to check it out.
We visited on the Sunday, and a few of the people we spoke to had said it was quite quiet in terms of foot traffic, but with the combination of the wet weather and it not being a work day I don’t find that too surprising. It was Sunday after all, I imagine that most buyers for shops don’t want to be working on a Sunday, and most people in the press are probably the same, so whilst it’s really convenient that I could make a weekend of it and go on the Sunday, in business terms I’m sure there was more activity on the Monday and hopefully lots of deals come from the show because there were a lot of brands that I’m sure would be a good fit for all kinds of shops. For us, it being a bit quieter was a real plus, we weren’t fighting for people’s attention and could have some good conversations with brands, which is what it was all about for Team HYA.
I’ve been purposely vague about specific brands in this post because I don’t really want to single anyone out just yet. Over the next couple of weeks me and Doug will be providing commentary and an overview of most of the brands we spoke to and reporting back on what we found, so this recap iss mostly just to give you a flavour of the show. It really was great to be there, after the show on the train home I felt invigorated, being around creative people helps to get ideas going and makes you feel positive, and I hope that other brands involved felt the same. See you in the Summer, Margin!