Port de Versailles, Hall 1
Running from 2-5th September
This was my first visit to Who’s Next in nearly 3 years, and the first since Covid. In that time the whole international industry had been shaken to its core with lockdowns, viruses and absolutely no holidays or travelling. Stores had been closed everywhere, factories at a standstill. And with all this mayhem materials had somehow increased substantially in price, not helped with the recent hike in the exchange rate against the US Dollar, which was incredibly ‘challenging’, making Panama and raw materials very costly.
But were the brands ready to start afresh, to travel to Paris, find customers and take orders that would fire up production once again. The summer of 2022 had been incredibly hot everywhere, and with no new stock retailers had sold out and were ready to buy. Who’s Next was given Hall 1 at Parc de Versailles, one of the modern halls with good light, high ceilings and lots of space.
As I turned the pages of the catalogue in the Press Office I was surprised to count 20+ solid brands that I recognised from past years. So I knew that buyers making the trip here would not be disappointed. There were many showing from Montaponne in Italy, the home of European mass production, a few from Florence, three major brands from Germany, and others from the US, France and Ecuador. After speaking to a number of owners and managers on the stands, there were two distinct reactions to the show. From brands that had laboured on through Covid exhibiting, there was a tiredness and a frustration of still lower footfalls, whereas those brands both large and small who had not shown a collection for nearly 3 years there was absolute joy to be here, showing in Paris once again and taking orders!
Directions for the New Spring/Summer Collections for 2023 .
Colour was key, with lots of ice-cream shades, pale blues, pinks and greens. There were bright pinks, yellows and reds, contrasted with a swathe of naturals and golden tones. This show always offers a range of prices, from inexpensive straws and quality Panamas, young styles and beach hats. Hats that were fun to wear with fringing, many using a mix of materials, either from a design or from a need to use all the offcuts. Stripes and checks were popular, craftwork and the addition of small details that upped the design. Roughly 30% of hats shown in Hall 1were for men, across fine luxury Panamas, trilby’s and pork pies with stripey bands and soft caps and hats in checks and digital prints.
It was surprising to see such a wide use of crochet for 2023. Most of these styles were made from Panama straw, a very pliable material to crochet, or raffia which can be processed into skeins that are easier to work.
Whether all the Panama is crocheted in Ecuador I am not sure, it would certainly be easier for production in Europe and the US to buy cones and capelines ready made.
Crochet also had many ‘lives’, it could look retro and 60’s, or modern and contemporary. It was here on ladies and men’s hats both stiffly blocked or loose and floppy.
Soft hats, caps and berets are definitely the mainstay of the younger buyer. Kangol showed many of their classic shapes but in digital prints and checks, Bronté, a small collection of lightweight summer tweeds, and Frasconi with an abundance of softs (probably more than 100 on show here) that included a sub-range in denim, lightweight cottons, linen, and floral fabrics.
Stripes and checks are always included in summer collections, but this year it was more pronounced. I loved the black and white gingham hat from Grevi, who are so clever at defining a season, with just small floral additions. This style, at the front of their stand was admired by everyone!
Finally, I wanted to include this braided hemp trilby that is lightweight, fairly robust and good for both events and hot sunshine. Made by Sorbatti, the largest factory in Monteponne in the east of Italy, a brand that is known globally for their wide range of men’s hats.
Overall it was a good show, was ‘mask-free’ and certainly busier than the last in January. The next edition for winter 2023/4 runs from the 20th – 21st of January. I have booked my ticket already on Eurostar, arriving on Saturday afternoon and staying until late on Monday.
For further details go to www.whosnext.com
So please let me know if you are attending, perhaps we could meet for a coffee, or I could introduce you to some of these amazing brands……. drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org …… see you in January!
Details of exhibitors who were mentioned in my report:-
Angiolo Frasconi, Italy – www.frasconi.it– @angiolo_frasconi
Bailey Hats, USA – www.bailey hats.com – @bailey_hats
Bedacht, Germany – www.bedacht-online.de– @bedacht_hats
Bronté, the Netherlands – www.idhats.com– @bronte_amsterdam
Ecua-Andino, Ecuador- www.ecua-andino.com– @ecuaandonohats
Fiebig, Germany – www.fiebig1903.com– @fiebig1903
Flechet, France – www.flechet.eu– @flechet
Grevi, Italy – www.grevi.com– @grevi1875
Hats & Dreams, Italy – www.vecchi.it– @hatsanddreams
Kangol, USA – www.kangol.com– @kangol
Mayser, Germany – www.mayserhats.com– @mayserhats
Seeberger, Germany – www.seebergerhats.com– @seebergerhats
Sorbatti, Italy – www.sorbatti.it– @sorbatti_