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We Join Little Barcelona

12 March, 2014

Lilo&Co

Little Barcelona, the children’s fashion showcase for Spanish and international firms, brought together around 30 labels for its fifth outing. What drew them?

Trade fairs are an essential tool for both the globalisation strategies and sales activities of Catalan children’s fashion firms. The Internet may offer global store windows where they can make sales and promote their labels, but only fairs provide them with personal, hands-on contact with their main opinion leaders, i.e., multibrand stores and salespeople.

This is the principal strength of an event like Little Barcelona, which was started in 2011 by three businesspeople with longstanding experience in kids’ fashion: Javier Royo, Sílvia Tarrés and Ana Castán. Five events on, they continue to work towards becoming the leading platform for children’s firms to showcase their new collections and attract buyers from around the world who come to spot trends and talents.

As part of the path of continuous improvement, a new Little Barcelona event was held in the Convent dels Àngels in February. This was the place where the first Little Barcelona was held and the organisers acknowledge there has been a “certain return to our roots” after having held it at the Disseny Hub and Poble Espanyol on previous occasions.

Big, small and médium

One of the principal novelties of this year’s Little Barcelona, which took place on 2 and 3 February, was the participation of the firm Desigual, presenting its first collection of children’s footwear. It did so at a trade fair that was not only dominated by clothing but all the other goods that form part of the world of children.

As always, the selection of fashion labels and firms was posited as “an alternative to the more classic type of children’s fashion,” the organisers say, which is why it featured designs by many micro-businesses and medium-sized companies which, like Baobabs, are reinventing the way children and, in this case more precisely, pregnant women and nursing mothers, dress.

Ariadna Loureiro is the founder of Baobabs. We caught up with her at Little and asked her about the challenges facing the company, which now markets its products in 21 points of sale: “This year we have to focus on branding and delivering a defined style in keeping with the Baobabs image.” When asked why a young, small firm like hers invests in an event like Little, she says: “It’s a good place to promote an innovative product. It gives you a media presence and the chance to contact new points of sale. There aren’t any other fairs of this type in Spain. There is FIMI, but we think it is targeted at a more conservative customer. That’s why if you want a showcase for alternative designs, you have to look abroad”.

The role of being a platform for younger firms is undoubtedly another of Little’s strong points. We also spoke to businesswoman Lolita Scheibli, the head of Lilo&Co, an artisan clothing company for newborns through to babies aged 9 months. She took part in Little Barcelona for the second time and did so with the conviction that “it’s a promotional channel for the label. I decided to repeat at Little even though the first time was a disaster in terms of location and exhibitions. But now, thanks to Little, my company has featured in the media and become better known,” Scheibli says.

More offers and services

Guiding an event like Little Barcelona is no easy task. The fair tries every year to improve its offer of labels and its appeal to international purchasers, as one of the priorities of the children’s fashion sector is, obviously, exports.

As the most recent figures from the Spanish Association for Children’s Products (Asepri), an umbrella organisation for 300 children’s fashion and other children’s firms from around Spain, indicate, there has been a 50% rise in exports over the past two years. Today Asepri member firms, which include Catalan ones, are present in around 100 countries around the globe. This ratio of openings is a good example of the level of globalisation of children’s fashion companies and their desire to grow abroad.

“Expanding the brand both at home and overseas is a priority for me,” says Lolita Scheibli from Lilo&Co. The company has been going for two years now and over this time, besides taking part in Little Barcelona, it has brought together the experience needed to “perfect the organisation, manufacturing and promotion of the label”. These are hard tasks indeed, to which, in Lilo&Co’s case, there is also the challenge of artisanal production. “We design each piece of clothing individually, we make and decorate them by hand with a great deal of dedication and care,” Scheibli says.

A craft component and attention to detail are common features of the selection of labels present at each Little Barcelona. In addition to Baobabs and Lilo&Co, other firms that have committed to the fair on previous occasions include Anguè Anguè, Bobux, Perfect Days, Beltín and Elfi e Fate. Then there are new ones like Les Petits Vagabonds, Piñata Pum, Cranc&Friends and Zo Mummade, as well as new international labels including Bakker Made With Love, Giokit, Dream Nation, Greentom and Modéerska Huset.

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