Copenhagen - A few weeks before the Danish fair season was due to start, there was suddenly the announcement of the acquisition of Revolver by competitor CIFF. The two fairs, which have been taking place simultaneously in the Danish capital for several years, aim to join forces to further enhance Copenhagen's reputation as a fashion city during the fair season. However, during early February, the two fairs were not yet officially together, yet the news remained a hot topic among the brands and visitors present. Hints could be spotted on the fair floor of how the fairs are getting ready for the future.
During the summer of 2022, there had already been rumours that CIFF and Revolver would collaborate. There was talk of adjacent venues, or other far-reaching collaborations. Working together is also exactly what the brand new director of CIFF Sofie Dolva called for following her appointment. Dolva said in an interview with FashionUnited that the fashion industry needed to work together more in order to shape the post-pandemic period. While the new head may have hinted at a large-scale merger, she did not explicitly reveal it at the time.
Beauty makes debut at CIFF
What Dolva did talk about in summer 2022 was the possible addition of beauty and lifestyle to CIFF's offering, and she delivered on that promise this edition. “By introducing Scandinavian beauty brands and new lifestyle brands, we facilitate a more holistic approach to the concept of fashion and ensure that buyers, press and consumers experience a more open, inclusive and contemporary fair,” Dolva said in a statement.
In one of the Bella Center’s halls, the venue where CIFF has been taking place for years, there was a section dedicated to beauty. Some 20 clean beauty brands were gathered, all with sophisticated-looking stands. Where the stands for fashion and accessories brands are sometimes big and bulky, the beauty stands were a breath of fresh air for the fair’s concept.
Skin therapist and founder of skincare brand Smuk, Heidi Maltby, said she enjoyed getting to know industry colleagues on the show floor. Her presence at CIFF was mainly centred around giving the fair a try, something that applied to all brands in the beauty section. She also understood why the fashion fair decided to expand into beauty – after all, retailers have been doing the same thing for years. "I sell 50 percent of my products to purely beauty retailers and the other 50 percent I sell to fashion retailers," she told FashionUnited. Beauty products are a nice little treat consumers can pick up from fashion retailers for either themselves or as a gift. The inclusion of beauty products also contributes to the experience in a fashion store.
At RAAW Alchemy, Monique Macutay hoped to attract some big buyers. "There are big names on CIFF's visitor list like Net-a-Porter. That would be nice." Prior to the fair, the brand did contact several companies to possibly make arrangements, but that did not always go smoothly. "Another beauty fair our brand has been at in Bologna had a booking system so you could book appointments with buyers. That would be handy, but maybe next season it will be possible."
Beauty brand Nuori was invited, among others, by Sofie Dolva, who worked in the beauty industry before joining CIFF. The brand did not have high expectations, and saw the fair more as good PR so that retailers and others got to know the brand. On the lifestyle front, there were already several brands scattered throughout the various halls. Such as the Design Letters brand, which also had accessories in addition to homeware. The lifestyle brands were not concentrated in one section and acted more as a nice surprise for visitors as they meandered through the aisles.
CIFF and Revolver merge: Will unique identities be preserved?
Marie Schøyen of Way CPH saw the fact that there are more segments at CIFF as a good thing. "You notice that the atmosphere is different. Good things are happening, I am very excited also about the merger between CIFF and Revolver. Fashion is not just clothes anymore - it's a holistic approach now," the brand's founder told FashionUnited. The sentiment shown by Schøyen was shared at several stands at CIFF. Fashion brand Notes du Nord returned to CIFF after several years of absence. "We find the vision for 'CIFF 2.0' very interesting and it fits perfectly with us as a brand," said CEO Rasmus Oreby, in a statement. "We particularly appreciate the introduction of the beauty segment and see how this compliments fashion brands - also from a purchasing perspective." So the collaboration, be it between fashion and beauty, or Revolver and CIFF, was well received during the latter fair. A stronger Danish fashion industry was only seen as something positive. However, those who asked around at Revolver occasionally heard different stories.
The Revolver fair takes place at several locations in the inner city of Copenhagen. For instance, part of the brands are located at the Øksnehallen and part are in Forum. Shuttle buses ran between the venues, which also now went to CIFF for the first time. It was the first physical expression of the cooperation between the two fairs. Several exhibitors in Øksnehallen expressed concern about the merger between CIFF and Revolver. They feared that the unique atmosphere that lived in the Øksnehallen (a more than 100-year-old building where cattle used to be kept) would be lost in the merger. It must be admitted, the Bella Center that CIFF has taken up residence in for years has less atmosphere than the Øksnehallen, but the latter is relatively small and is quickly filled to the brim with brands, leaving no room for expansion. The overall atmosphere at Revolver felt more like a younger and more modern cousin of CIFF.
At jewellery brand Hultquist Copenhagen, they say they had heard that all brands will move from Revolver to Bella Center next summer. However, official plans for the new concept have not yet been announced by the organisation, so at the stands, people are mostly waiting curiously (and tensely).
For Dutch brand Fabienne Chapot, which was located in the Øksnehallen, curiosity reigned supreme. The brand has always been at Revolver and views it as a good fair. "Everyone is curious about the new set-up," Silvia Tuitman, global sales director of the brand, told FashionUnited. She added that she didn’t find it surprising that fairs were looking for new methods in the current landscape. "I especially hope that if fairs continue to exist, they will become more intimate and more affordable for young brands. We all need each other."
Observant visitors could also notice that there were labels that were at both CIFF and Revolver. These include Ichi, which had its own permanent showroom at the Bella Centre. Even after the merger of the two shows, they expected the brand to remain at both locations. "People who already have appointments come to the showroom, but here at Revolver we find new customers who walk by and are drawn in by the collection instead."
At Liberté Essentiel, there was another reason for being at both fairs this time. "Last summer, CIFF was no good for us, so we decided to go to Revolver in winter. Only then the merger was announced, so we decided to have a booth at CIFF as well. This is in case everything takes place at the Bella Centre next summer. Then we hope to have a better spot on the show floor because of this."
CIFF and Revolver are gearing up for joint future
While exhibitors had all been informed about the merger through a letter, the news had not yet reached all visitors, it seemed. In conversations with several buyers, surprised reactions could still be heard, but all were actually positive about the future cooperation. "If the fairs could possibly take place next to each other, or closer together, it would actually be very convenient for us. We have so many appointments in one day, it would help if the venues were closer." However, it is still worth repeating that the organisation's exact plan is not known yet.
If you look from the future to the present, both CIFF and Revolver looked relatively quiet this winter edition. The first day at CIFF got off to a slow start and the next two days were also quiet. At Revolver, it was already busier, with the first day being packed, especially in the Øksnehallen - but the following days were also slow to get going at this venue. It is difficult to determine the reason behind this. For now, it remains to be seen whether the summer edition and the new design will attract more curious people to Copenhagen.
This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.