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To Show or Not to Show (part 2)

4 September, 2013

Justicia Ruano fashion show / 080 Barcelona Fashion

Summer has left behind a new edition of the Passarel·la 080 Barcelona Fashion show. In light of this latest edition that was held, we ask a number of designers who take part in it about the importance of this showcase both for businesses and for promoting and projecting fashion made in Barcelona.

For many designers who have their own fashion firm, the 080 Barcelona Fashion event is one of the most important in the season.

We spoke with designers Justicia Ruano, Celia Vela and Laia Roca (the designer behind Who) all of whom are 080 fixtures. The veteran of the group is Celia Vela, who has taken part in the Barcelona-based show on eight occasions. “We’re very happy with 080 for a number of reasons: the size of our firm, the market at which it is targeted and the types of collections we do. In these tough times our aspiration is to continue to form part of 080,” she said, adding, “It’s the country’s official platform. Its level of production is extraordinarily high, so it seems logical to me that any designer would be keen to be involved”.

Justicia Ruano is also crystal clear about her choice of 080 as a fashion parade to showcase her firm’s proposals each season. “I live in Barcelona, I design in Barcelona and I make my clothes in Barcelona. For me it is the starting point to ensure visibility”.

Laia Roca has a similar take on the issue. “080 is a good way to achieve a certain level of public recognition, particularly among local people. […] If you don’t present your collections in a show of its kind, that recognition is hard to come by.”

Boosting the firm

Brand image, visibility and national and international renown are some of the reasons why fashion companies decide to take part in a show. In the case of 080 Barcelona Fashion, held at the Barcelona Design Hub in July, there were 32 companies, including designers and labels. They all showcased their designs for spring/summer 2014 over five days.

This was the 12th edition of 080 and it drew nearly 30,000 people, according to the Government of Catalonia, the event’s organiser through the Consortium of Commerce, Arts and Crafts and Fashion of Catalonia. A government representative told us that 080’s goal is essentially to “show the creative talent of Catalan designers and to project our fashion and textile sector”.

Making the decision

What is the most important factor in deciding whether or not to take part in a show? That is another question we put to these three designers who appeared at 080. The creator of Who says the most important thing is to “have the financial capacity to take part and to set a clear final objective”, which in her case is “driving sales and making Who better known”.

Celia Vela says you also need to “honestly assess whether you are mature enough as a firm and as a work team”. This designer, who presented her collection on 10 July and
who has had a permanent showroom in Tokyo since 2009, says that taking part
must be about more than “personal satisfaction and feeding your ego”.

Vela knows what she is talking about. She has taken part in fashion shows for nearly two decades, starting in 1996. At that time she was part of the Gaudí and repeated the experience over many consecutive years. She has now featured at 080 on eight occasions, presenting her designs for a “very feminine, sophisticated woman”. When asked about the characteristics of her work she says she likes “happy endings, good dressmaking, laughing, the insides of pieces and details”. All of these are characteristics of the designs of this firm which knows only too well the importance of committing to a fashion show as a value for its brand.

For Justicia Ruano, “080 is the best stage to present your collections”. In a dream scenario, she would love to see her firm’s designs on the catwalks of Paris, London and New York, but for the moment is committed only to local events. “Right now I can’t afford another show. The firm’s budget is to produce and invest in activities to take us global. I strongly believe that clothes made here have excellent possibilities abroad”.

Her fashion firm is currently present in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, France and the UK, among other countries. “The US, Taiwan, Brazil and Mexico are the markets where we are investing in sales outlets,” Ruano explains. She also mentions the financial pressures a firm like hers encounters when it considers undertaking a process of international expansion.

Is there return on investment?

With regard to the return on investment of committing to a show, the three designers say it is a medium-and long-term process. “It’s misleading to assess the outcomes of a show in the short term. It’s true that you can see a growth in the firm’s followers on social networks, but if you want to know how it will impact sales you have to wait until the end of the season before drawing any conclusions,” explains Laia Roca of Who.

The firm that Roca runs was established in the year 2000. “I was very sure that this is what I wanted to do. I also wanted the freedom to work and follow my dream,” she enthuses. Roca hails from a family with a longstanding tradition in the textile sector and knows first-hand the features of this type of economic activity. Indeed, that is probably why she says that “what’s important now is to get onto foreign markets and continue to grow sales”.

Fashion/textile sector

In addition to the designers who took part in 080 in July, the event also featured brands and firms from the textile sector. Cóndor opened the shows of the final day, which also involved the participation of brands such as Bóboli, Naulover, Torras, Punto Blanco and Slazenger. All of them, together with such famous names as Mango, Custo and Desigual, played an important role alongside the Catalan designers.

When 080 ended it was the turn of the Little Barcelona fashion show, devoted to the world of children’s fashion and which was held in Barcelona’s Poble Espanyol on 14 and 15 July.

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