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superfuture: Interview with Edina Sultanik of (capsule)

superfuture recently caught up with Edina Sultanik for an interview about her latest work behind the recent show in Paris. Sultanik co-founded BPMW, the agency behind (capsule) – a New York trade show that boasted a number of premium heritage brands during its latest exhibition in the French capital. The interview begins with a focus on the agency’s business structure and the way in which it is coping with the global recession, before going on to discuss (capsule)’s development and the future of fashion. Key extracts have been attached below.

You started your business initially with a focus on menswear but you launched a trade show for women last september in New York and one in October in Paris. How did that launch come about?

Well, our men’s shows were doing really well and a lot of people felt that there was a similar need in the women’s market for this kind of niche of the market which is a little bit below designer, still commercial, not very avant-garde but still forward and progressive. So we thought we would start one and see what the market would be like and see what designers are out there. It’s been very successful so far.

Has the recent economic downturn affected your line of business?

I think trade shows are always important for brands, and we’re a small show so it’s not like we’re trying to get hundreds of brands to do our shows. For us there’s still a waiting list to get into the New York and Paris shows. We are very anti mega-trade shows and the mega-trade show experience and we’re very selective so there’s a waiting list to get into our shows. The paris men’s show is packed to the guilds, there’s 90 brands here!

Looking back at previous editions, what’s your opinion on (capsule)’s development over the years?

Well, we started out very small and unknown and we evolved to be very well known and almost like the top destination for menswear for sure. So, that’s exciting for us and I think it’s just a testament to the brands we have, because we have awesome designers here. Everyone works together as a community, there’s that really happy vibe at the show. The retailers are excited about it, I think that the brands are excited, this segment of the market is getting stronger.

Are there any plans to expand (capsule), to a booming region such as Asia for example?

I’d personally do a show in Asia but it’s a little scary because we don’t know anything about Asia. But I would say that would be our next move. I heard China doesn’t have any multibrand stores so we don’t need one in there really. I would think maybe Korea would be a good place to go but we don’t know, just starting the show here in Paris was a big challenge. we kind of speak the language and we kind of can get down with the culture here, but doing something in Asia we’d need a very strong partner over there to do it. at the moment we don’t have any plans yet, we’d have to wait a season or two.

I went to Korean fashion week and would try it all again, I thought it was good! I like that the Korean government gets behind everyone. especially in menswear, I thought the designers are really forward and good. There are a lot of awesome stores and I think a lot of people from all over Asia go there. setting up in Seoul or maybe Hong Kong would be a good idea. Korea was sort of a ‘Japan light’, it wasn’t as extreme but they definitely like fashion there. So I would say one day maybe we’ll expand again. But right now we’re just holding tight, building up the shows we have, and developing (capsule)’s women’s edition.

Is there is a selection procedure for participating designers?

A lot of times we invite them. But at this point our show is pretty well known. So a lot of people contact us directly. But we do have this great advisory board of fashion editors and retailers, and we do check out the brands with them: what they’re shipping, selling, how they’re generally doing. We also do research on the blogs and we also do retailer research, so we go to stores to see what’s hot. we scour the world looking for the best brands. For example, we have a retailer from Copenhagen, très bien shop from Sweden is also on the board. next to that we have Bloomingdales, Barneys and saks in new york, and we also have all the editors from nylon, gq and so on. They all give us a lot of tips.

What trends do you see at this moment?
I’ve been seeing a lot of locally made products. So everybody is making things in their hometown. It’s not all made in Asia any more. There’s a lot of shifting to making things in America. Everyone is working on craftsmanship, it’s all about artisanal, heritage, sartorial and traditions. Making things locally and in small batches. Menswear has a very strong traditional base and I think guys right now are gravitating towards tradition but because of the internet they’re also able to do a lot of research into what goes behind every brand and also they’re able to make these connections with the designers.

So because of the internet you could read about a pair of shoes and know where it’s made and what kind of leather they use and so on, which you couldn’t do ten years ago. There’s a lot of blogs and information out there that helps this market grow. Guys want to buy into a piece of history, they want classic pieces that are going to last. They don’t necessarily want flight-by-night fast fashion, it’s all about slow fashion.

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