"In it to win it" – An interview by FASHION TODAY

Markus Oess, Editor-in-Chief FASHION TODAY interviewed PREMIUM GROUP's Managing Partner Anita Tillmann about how the industry will change because of Covid-19. Read the full interview here:

The Covid-19 virus will not kill the fairs. But it will change the implementation and content of platforms. Virtual and physical events will unite, says Anita Tillmann, Managing Partner PREMIUM GROUP, in the FT interview. And her company will be at the forefront in year one after Corona. Tillmann about the future of trade fairs and why the pandemic is also an opportunity.


The COVID-19coronavirus, or rather the lockdown and all the consequences associated with it, are bringing the economy to the brink of extinction – and this is the case with the textiles industry too. Retailers are calling for flexible processing of products for order and demanding support from the State. The industry is demanding liability from retailers, as well as support from the State. As trade show operators, what do you expect from retailers and the industry in order to continue as a trade show?

 What we would like to see is openness towards us and our new projects. We are buoyed up and working intensively on new concepts that we shall soon be presenting.


Do we still need traditional trade shows, based around products and such, or will it be more about collaborative models in future and how the order is fulfilled, which products will not be as plentiful on production lines?

 In my view, that's a question of definition and the overall offering. We appeared on the scene in 2003 with the aim of redefining and transforming the concept of the traditional trade show. Right from the beginning, our events were more than simply order platforms where only the relevant buyers and sales representatives came to meet up. For a long time, we were able to handle traditional order business through our regional trade fairs in Düsseldorf and Munich. Since our inception in 2003, the large-scale ‘trade show events’ were not envisaged as traditional trade shows but as ‘live events’. Everything revolves around Commerce, Community, Communication and Content, around Presentation, Inspiration, Experience and Storytelling. The whole fashion ecosystem meets at our events. From owners, CEOs and marketing teams through to creatives, producers and the media, etc. To answer your question, after we were forced to cancel our trade shows, events and parties due to the Federal and State stipulations, the reaction from exhibitors and retailers was overwhelming and clear: the industry needs a physical and social meeting place – the term ‘class reunion’ was frequently used as a point of comparison.


Will it also lead to the order patterns changing over the course of the season, i.e. orders being placed not just twice a year but four or six times annually – leading to smaller order quantities – or will we be returning to our previous behaviour one year on from COVID-19?

There is no real change in my view. This has always been going on, at least since I started working in the fashion sector, so for well over 25 years now. How many collection modules and delivery cycles each brand has depends on many different factors, such as product groups, segments, pricing, logistics, size, structure, etc. In a world after COVID-19 I don’t think that there will – or can – be ONE single solution for everyone. Not everything about the previous business models was fundamentally bad of course. The pandemic is not the result of ‘old or poor relationships’; it’s a virus that has taken the whole world by surprise. It acts like the beam of a laser, however, revealing where a company's strengths and weaknesses lie. In the best-case scenario, it is an opportunity to exploit the emergency braking effect on the company in a constructive way, developing new strategies and implementing topics that there was previously no time or opportunity for. Of course, this only applies to those who survive it.


What is your vision of how the industry should look after COVID-19 in terms of understanding the role of trade and industry, seasonal patterns and meeting consumers and their preferences?

I don't want to presume to pronounce on an all-encompassing vision of an industry that ranges in scope from LMVH to the Otto Group. Ultimately, it’s all about business and which values and standards the various companies pursue, which are the decision and responsibility of each individual company. We in the PREMIUM GROUP fundamentally believe that it’s worth investing in long-term and partnership-based relationships. In a post COVID-19 world this will undoubtedly be a key topic when selecting and collaborating with partners. With respect to consumers, nothing has changed – the customer remains king.


How will you and your team be focussing on the next three or four years specifically in your capacity as the PREMIUM GROUP, and what role can the digitalised world play in this?

We are currently working on bringing together the best of the digital and physical worlds. We are therefore not aiming for an either-or solution, but rather to offer our customers a ‘both-and’ solution. In doing so we will be positioning ourselves for something completely new: the ‘blended fashion event’. What is that? We are combining the strengths and pluses of our live events, PREMIUM and SEEK, with the opportunities provided by the ‘virtual’ events, i.e. the digital marketplace. In an ideal world this means digital transformation and networking for all brands and retailers. Information, inspiration and trade can be accessed from anywhere at any time: the two worlds are merging together.

Even before COVID-19, the starting point had already changed for all stakeholders as a result of digitalisation and globalisation; this change will be exacerbated by the consequences of the virus. In our business you have to be able to work in a flexible, demand-oriented, efficient and sustainable way. This requires new approaches and solutions, which we will be presenting in July for the first time, along with our partner, JOOR.


The whole international calendar has been torn up, trade shows are being pushed back or cancelled altogether. It is highly possible that some trade show operators will disappear from the scene. Which position will the PREMIUM GROUP be taking in the sector internationally?

In it to win it.

You can find the interview on FASHION TODAY.