Thursday, 8 December 2011

Clothes Show Live Review

Last week I attended Clothes Show with my beautiful helper KayKay Sakura, and shared a small little area with the lovely Eustratia.


It was so lovely to meet so many people, and a little overwhelming to hear lots of you already knew of my brand and follow us on Twitter/Facebook

However, those of you that know me personally probably knew this part of the post was coming after reading numerous complaints or receiving sobbing phonecalls asking whether I should leave early. In the end I did because my kidneys were playing up, and it just wasn't worth risking my health for. But even before that, it was one of the worst events I've ever done. I wouldn't recommend going as a trader, and here are a few reasons why:

It is a very intense length of time

It's so stressful leading up to the event, and I hadn't really realised how long it would be to stand all day from 7am until 7pm, then going home and finishing website work to try and not fall too behind. After the first 2 days it had felt like I hadn't slept at all, and the fact that it was empty the majority of the day made the days feel even longer. 

It was only busy between 12-2pm, they could easily condense it into less days. Being away from the studio that long in the run up to Christmas was a nightmare - I was freaking out every time I got an order on the site as I felt terrible I couldn't post it until I got back!

It is very badly organised 

Every trader I spoke to had some form of problem with organising their space. Up until the day before I was getting phonecalls asking for money I had already paid, they just couldn't be bothered to look for it! Not ideal when you're supposed to be leaving but don't actually know if you'll be let inside the venue.

When I started feeling ill I hoped I could pull through it, but after having to sit on the floor for a few hours because I couldn't see properly, I headed to the organisers office. When I said I was going to have to leave early, I was greeted with a very rude 'I think you'll find you're contracted to stay until Wednesday'. At this point I couldn't stand upright because of the pain, and when I explained this I was told I could go to the medical area but I couldn't leave. It wasn't until I was on the verge of tears outlining that I have a chronic illness and nothing will help but rest and really strong painkillers that I was finally treated with a little bit of respect and allowed to leave.

The organisers don't seem to care about your needs, it's just money in their pocket. And with big clients coming back year after year, they don't seem to care whether the small brands do.

It's more like a clearance sale

I feel completely missold the event. I turned up expecting to be surrounded by lots of cute independent labels, but most of it was cheap imported mass produced goods. While there were some really cute shops, they just got lost among all the 'SALE' signs, and with big brands offering deals like buy 3 get 12(!) free, nobody wants to part with their money. The majority of the people there just wanted bargains and cheap throwaway items at ridiculous prices which is fine but not something I can really offer with the time that goes into each piece.

I did actually buy one of the Barry M goody bags, which was £10.

I was so shocked when I opened it to find 3 pots of glitter that are totally different in quality compared to everything I've ever seen them sell in shops, and absolutely nothing like their dazzle dust that I love so much. I also got a brush and a lipgloss, but the lipgloss was unbranded and very similar to what I used to get for free in magazines when I was younger.

Safe to say I wouldn't go back. But I am very glad I did it because it did teach me a lot about doing bigger events and it was amazing to meet so many of you lovely people! Thank you to everyone that visited the stand while I was there, and hopefully next year I'll be doing lots of other events throughout the country, so be sure to keep checking back here and on Facebook to see if I'm travelling to one near you.

Obviously this is just my opinion - maybe I've just had a bad experience, but I'd rather share how I honestly felt about the event. My intent isn't to put people off Clothes Show, but simply share my thoughts on my experience of it. I should point out plenty of people go and have a brilliant time both as a trader and a consumer, but I think it's definitely important to research it a lot more beforehand to make sure it's right for you. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to do that, but as I said I'm still glad I went as I learnt a lot about doing bigger events and I always love being able to meet customers in person!


  1. I'm not surprised one bit of your review.....and you hit the nail on the head about the organisers just being all about the money....they try and persuade me to do it every year, no way! Too many bought in from China market type stalls etc etc. Stay away from huge events like this and keep doing smaller events that are your target market. Took me years to realise this, but it totally works for me now. Good luck and lets keep indie and handmade as special and valued as it should be :) x

  2. I sometimes get to the point even with smaller craft fairs where it feels like the only people making money are those organising it who are charging up to £50 for a table. I'm glad you decided to post this review - it sounds like it had to be said.

  3. I was also working at the Clothes Show and first of all, your stand was lovely! The majority of people only seemed to be there for freebies and the less than average goody bags. It was sad that there weren't enough people making the effort to spend their money on unique or handmade items, because there were more than a few very good stalls that left early!

  4. Dear Miss D,

    We also had very similar Experience at 2 of these larger shows recently. (the first one was bad.. the second was even worse. (despite promises from the organisers like our show is much better than that last one, loads more people, you are perfect for the show you will sell lots.. etc. )

    As a single person trying to start and run a new business, the amount of work that went in to designing and building our stand, only to be surrounded by what can only be called sh*t filled market stalls ( think wallpaper tables with a bed sheet on and then some really cr*py glitter tattoo set or exfoliating pad or other tat all on sale or 10 for £10 or similar )

    We have a quality product and expected to be in an environment of similar stands/sellers we expected to talk and meet people interested in our product, but like you said no one was there for that, all they wanted is free gifts, goodies bags and really rubbish make up or similar, I was also surprised how rude some people are,'What £15!! Im not paying that' as they throw the item back down...)

    To be honest I am kind of glad that you ( and a couple of the other comments) have experienced similar to me. I have not really talked to any one since the show and thought that it was just me and what I was doing. These shows appear so busy and so popular that I thought they must work, other wise people wouldn't do them,

    In reality unless you are a large brand or retailer you have to compete with the shabby stalls, the only way to do that is think of it as a (very expensive to be at) car boot sale! only there for a quick buck selling your truck load of knock off tat. The mechanics of the show mean its was not really viable for a new/start-up or a small company selling a quality product to the public. I am just hoping that some of the 1000's of hand out flyers might bring some orders to the website - - 8 days left before x-mas last order ship date. hope your feeling better now :)

  5. A friend of mine had a stall too and said noone in her section of jewellery designers made a profit and weren't allowed to leave early. Such a shame you all had terrible experiences!

  6. You're completely right about this event, it was also inhumanly long (two of the days were effectively for school trips, which made sales seem almost impossible) and the Fridays 'are always quiet' according to the organisers.

    I too feel I was mis-sold this event as something people would attend to find forward-thinking fashion items, new designers and something they can't find elsewhere. No, they wanted cheap imported rubbish that wasn't even this season's cheap imported rubbish.

    You'll find that the big companies don't even pay for their stands, it's the smaller businesses who are effectively paying for this event! Sadly there will be new designers every year to be fodder for this so what do they care?

    But I was told to make a complaint in writing to Haymarket's Organiser MD Gavin Brown, which I'll be doing.

  7. I have to agree that although I have never done the clothes show, I have found that some event organisers do sell you false promises and you end up being stressed in the run-up to the event, and then sitting around for days on end; which is essentially just lining the event organisers pockets...

    I think that selling directly to stores means that people who go there are essentially in the store to shop, rather than see bands, get drunk, or on educational school trips!

  8. i felt sorry to all genuine traders who gave all the effort and hardwork. i agreed those greedy organiser and over priced show. there are few good stuff/trader and rest looks like selling crap stuff from whole camden market.
    for me it looks like a cheap car boot sale show. something is missing..




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