Organizers of the Paris accessories trade show Première Classe are reporting a significant rise in visitors from Asia, in spite of an overall 7% drop in participants (11,220 in total), at its most recent March show.

Thirty percent more Chinese visitors attended the show, from Mar. 6-9, at the Jardin des Tuileries, while Japan was the best represented foreign country accounting for 1,592 visitors. The country even overtook Italy with 1,394 visitors. Meanwhile, the number of Americans dropped to 444, a 30% decrease over the previous year.

As Première Classe took place during the tail end of the season’s trade show calendar, visitors, significantly impacted by the global economic crisis, sought to finalize their purchases for the season.

“This time it has been really hard,” said designer Henri Béguelin. “You could see exhibitors being really desperate, and I myself made fewer orders compared to the year before. I really hope that retailers and the end consumer as a result of this crisis start valuating handcraftmanship and collections made in Italy.”

The next shows have been scheduled for Sept. 3-6 at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles-Hall 1, and for Oct. 2-5 at the Jardin des Tuileries.

—Tina Heindel/Barbara Stockinger-Torelli