Autumn Fair, the UK’s leading wholesale marketplace for Home, Gift, Fashion and Sourcing at NEC Birmingham, delivered a comprehensive series of trend-led presentations and catwalk shows this week, giving the UK’s leading retailers a preview of the hottest products and key looks for the coming years, as well as a platform showcasing over 600 exhibitors across 12 product sectors.
With a continual bustle of orders being written across the show floor, exhibitors and buyers continued to report excellent feedback, positive experiences, and uplifting stories.
Nicola Meadows, portfolio director at Autumn Fair, said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive vibe at Autumn Fair and MODA, it’s been a very smooth show and people are ready for change, to discover great new products and brands, to network and re-connect with their peers. Autumn Fair creates an incredible environment for the retail community to do business, hear from industry leaders, and be inspired.”
On the Inspiring Retail Stage, TrendBible’s Trend Editor Wendy Lowe explored The Future of Celebration in 2023 and 2023 Home and Lifestyle Trends.
The Future of Celebration featured Recover Together, an honest, cheerful, naïve, nostalgic, and anti-perfectionist trend. While the mood is focused on rebuilding, repair, collective grief and strength in sensitivity, the colour palette is bold, colourful and inviting, celebrating progress over perfection and encouraging lovingly handmade gifts and a thrown-together look. Deborah Mordain, Trend Researcher quoted: “If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that life is messy and unpredictable. We have learnt to embrace the imperfect, find joy in everyday moments and celebrate the little wins. This is a great opportunity for brands to expand their celebration & gifting strategies beyond ‘special dates,’ using brave and honest messaging to inspire their audience to go big on the small things.”
Surreal Sense trend delivers a psychedelic disco, surreal nature, higher self-energy, and fields escapism. Liv Taylor, Visual Strategist and Cultural Researcher inputted: “Sensory saturated and psychedelic spaces create modern day escapism. Blending a love for nature with futuristic aspirations, brands can invite customers to lose themselves in the moment – whether at a big blow-out party or in an intimate self-care session. Heightening flavour and scent, offering a personalised experience, and using unexpected textures and colours will leave customers with something they’ll never forget.”
During the 2023 Home and Lifestyle Trends, Wendy outlined a key trend called Radical Natural, incorporating Resilient food systems, Outdoor hobbyists, Green cities, Healing nature and Sustainable inclusion. Ollie Olanipekun of Flock Together explains this trend as “Nature is a universal resource. For too long black, brown and POC have felt unwelcome and marginalised in spaces that should be for everyone. Together we are reclaiming green spaces and rebuilding our relationship with nature – one walk at a time.”
The Future Eden trend looks at Urban resilience, Functional resistant & durable Utilitarian, and Pet friendly Eco-conscious. Driving the trend is the move to remote working, a democratisation of nature, and ultra-localism with a colour palette of greens, yellow, blue and soft earthy browns. Naomi Pollard, Head of Publishing TrendBible refers to the trend; “Future Eden combines the best of tech-friendly, urban lifestyles with the benefits of tending to the natural world. This trend speaks to the rising number of eco-conscious consumers, that expect sustainable products and circular design without compromising on a fresh outlook.”
Looking further ahead to 2024, Wendy presented the Modern Renaissance trend, offering Still-life like classics rebirthed, sculptural, sensual, refined, and monumental aesthetics. Pollard explains; “Modern Renaissance echoes the rebirth of culture and the arts. As a contemporary ode to classic design and historical masterpieces – reinvented with modern form, styling and narrative – this trend story combines the best of timeless and timely chic.”
A cultural reawakening emerges, representative of the bloom that follows a fallow period. The spirit and design style of the Renaissance cascade through visual language and product design, where classic forms find a new audience and a still-life aesthetic emerges. A new wave of artists and muses become interesting to this curious consumer. Beauty is redefined for the modern age as a new appetite for more varied definitions drives a movement for skinclusivity.
-View from the Show Floor-
Feedback from buyers has been consistently upbeat with many commenting on the positive atmosphere, quality and variety of exhibitors including new and sustainable brands, the dedicated buyer lounges, and the Autumn Fair App all making their visit easier, more inspiring, and more efficient.
Carolyn Johnston, Buyer at Houstons, Northern Ireland said; “I have been coming to MODA for over 20 years and there is lots of buzz at the show, the stands are really busy and there are lots of scarves and bags this season which is good. I have been here since Sunday and I had to get up early and come back to get to a stand today.”
Nicola Hawkins, Director, Willow and Co Interiors Ltd said: “I’ve found this year’s Autumn Fair to be even better than last year, it’s obviously great that covid isn’t so much of a worry anymore and there’s more stock available from the suppliers which is great. It feels like there’s a lot more choice this year and I’ve really enjoyed it. My business is interiors so that is my main focus while I’m here, but it’s always really nice to go round and browse other stands such as jewellery and fashion. I’ve been talking to a lot of new suppliers, particularly nice to see so many seasonal options here for last minute Christmas stock purchases.”
Sara Clark, Buyer for Jarrold Department Store (Norwich) said; “The Autumn Fair is a good time to buy pre-Christmas stock and is my last prompt to buy Christmas products and finalise my last Christmas purchases. I have had a chance to look at lots of stands and meet brands I may not have heard of. It’s also great to touch products to get a feel for them and it’s good to find some more interesting smaller brands.”
Rachael King, Head Buyer at Rossiters of Bath said; “Shows are so important to me as I can achieve so much more in a few days and I’m likely to spend more if I can feel and touch the items. Working for a department store, it is great to have all sectors in the same venue and I have enjoyed meeting up with existing suppliers.”
Amy Wilders, Head of Ecommerce at Baked In Ltd said; “I’m here to buy for our ecommerce website and I’ve found it really interesting, there’s a really good mix of stands and exhibitors. I’m really loving the App and being able to find my way around with that. It’s been really exciting to see what trends are happening in the run up towards Christmas time.”
Rose McDonald, Company Director from Brushstrokes Porthcawl Ltd said; “We come to Autumn Fair to meet new suppliers, I have set up trade accounts with new suppliers that we have already order with at this show for our Christmas stock. There are tons of stalls here, we have met loads of new stockists that we can buy in. it is also a great event to build new releationships an have face to face meetings with current suppliers. I will definitely be coming back next year and to Spring Fair in February too.”
“Autumn Fair is always well organised, I like the edit and what I particularly like about Autumn Fair is using the edit as it does, our product categories aren’t corralled into one area. Although there is a greetings area, we look onto gift stands here which gives us a different mix of customers. Sustainability is vitally important to everyone, and we see that. We took the decision along with a lot of other greeting card companies to remove single use plastic from the sleeves of cards and we have 100% recyclable Christmas package offers. It makes the difference; it’s certainly becoming much more important to retailers and their customers too.”