Sportswear International talked to Xavier Clergerie, WSN Developpement/Who’s next Prêt-à-Porter Paris, about radical changes happening in the Paris fashion scene. Interview by Barbara Markert

There’s a new setup for the Paris fashion trade fairs. In January 2012 a new mega trade fair will be launched – “Who’s next Prêt-à-Porter Paris.” What can we look forward to there?
For Who’s next Prêt-à-Porter we were highly selective about who to include as exhibitors. We will continue this approach. In January we will not only be the largest European fashion trade fair but also an outstanding one. We are trying to make the best selection for each segment and each retailer category. Buyers for ranges which, for example, focus on women around 50 or women with a rounder figure will find a corresponding offer here – designed with an eye for modern looks and contemporary flair. We want the best labels representing a segment at the international level in all areas.

In summer the trade fair is scheduled to take place early, at the end of June – at the same time as the Menswear Week and Haute Couture shows in Paris. Why?
We had wanted to give up the late time in September for years, but couldn't while still under the old trade fair structure. Therefore, it comes as no surprise. Buyers like the new date. They still have their entire budget available and can take their time looking at the collections. In addition, because it coincides with part of the Menswear Fashion Week and Haute Couture, all of the international press are on-site too.

Will you lose exhibitors and visitors? Many collections are not done yet, the close-out sales are taking place and besides the jeans labels are all exhibiting at the Bread & Butter right afterwards…
Of course we will lose exhibitors, but for each one we lose, we will gain ten new ones. And I don’t buy the arguments about Paris close-out sales or completing collections – the trade fair will run long enough so that retailers can come and visit us. Men’s fashion designers and the exhibitors at Premium and Bread & Butter prove that it is indeed possible to have your collection ready by this date. The proximity with Bread & Butter is not a problem either. For one thing, many jeans makers will be exhibiting at both trade fairs. In addition, the Berlin event approaches differ from ours: Bread & Butter is the most important marketing event for jeans specialists for having a dialog about business and showcasing large booths. At our event the booths are limited to 150 square meters (1,615 square feet), the product remains visible. Those who want to talk business go to Berlin, those who want to talk about product trends come to Paris for our event.