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”Our weeks will definitely focus on the change, new business models, and the next generation”

Waker is the CEO of Association of Trade Partners Sweden, an organization and business network active in national and international trade, providing legal expertise and business intelligence among other things, with 500 corporate members. It also operates Stockholm Fashion District as well as organizes trade fairs for industries such as interior design, fashion, shoes, and textiles.

— Before Covid-19, over 900 Swedish and international brands acted from the district each season. Currently, our role also mean that we take action to help fashion brands through this tough year, she says.

The next trade fair, Fashion Week Trade, takes place in Stockholm Fashion District next week.

— It’s an important business venue for Swedish wholesale, e-tail, and retail. At Fashion Week Trade, visitors make purchases, get inspiration, business intelligence on trends, and access to new digital tools. And, above all, the important conversation — this season perhaps more important than ever. Where is the industry now and what are we moving towards?

Tell us about this edition. What’s new?

— The theme of the season is ”Relationships” — how to build strong business relations in a digital era. At the same time we have worked hard over the past year to help push the digitalization forward in a higher speed. We are also digitalizing Stockholm Fashion District, where events, business networking meetings, and showrooms will all be available in a brand new digital form. This includes more than 200 businesses and 700 brands with digital showrooms and possibilities for online meetings 365 days a year. It will be a large B2B site which will profit a lot of contacts and business. 

Is that your most exciting new format?

— Yes, we are really looking forward to see the new digital showrooms in use. To see meeting requests land in the inbox of all brands and to see buyers with a personalized list that they’ve ”hearted” on their phones. We have never before had such great feedback that a tool is so much sought after! says Waker, adding,

— Another favourite moment will be to see new brands and young designers gain new knowledge and prepare for the next stage of development.

How do you handle the sustainability issue?

— Encouragement for Action, our sustainability encouragement award, will return this year with updated categories. Apart from that, we’re excited that all brands can state what global sustainability goals they work with in their digital showrooms.

What do you think about the future of fashion weeks?

— I think that the fashion weeks for shows and PR will change quite much since it’s a high demand for the industry to be inclusive, transparent, and sustainable. Including trade, our weeks will definitely focus on the change, new business models, and the next generation. We can use our powerful platforms to engage in discussions and together make a change. 

— Stockholm Fashion District will work both digitally and physically in the future. We look forward to meeting everyone in real life! We believe that creativity often comes from encounters between people, something that can be difficult to achieve over a screen. But of course, we will be using digital tools as well. We are an international platform and therefore we think that there will be less travel and more effective digital meetings, lookbooks, and presentations. It is a powerful new force and community we are seeing in the fashion industry, with more inclusive values and focus on sustainability and equality. Our industry needs this and we welcome it with open arms, says Waker, continuing,

— My belief is that partnerships will be even more important post-covid than they are today. The future winners in our industry will be companies that can solve problems for customers and thus create long-term customer relations by providing solutions and services, not just products.