The debut edition of trade fashion exhibition Sole Fashion took place on 16th & 17th February 2020 at the Ricoh Arena Coventry, collaborating with some of the biggest names in footwear including Rieker, Josef Seibel, Gardiner Brothers, HB Shoes, Bugatti and Mephisto.
Visitors included Morleys Stores, Harveys of Halifax, Briggs Shoes, White & Son of Sidmouth, Neat Feet, Howorths Shoes, Haslams Footwear, Marshall Shoes, Christians of Market Harborough, Strolling 4 Shoes, Andrew Graham Shoes and Shoe Med as well as Elevate Your Sole from Wales and Irish retailer Paddy Duff. Press titles Drapers and Footwear Today were also in attendance.
Ben Gardiner of Gardiner Bros exhibited many of his brands at the show: “Gardiners were thrilled to be involved in the first showing of Sole Fashion. Ricoh Arena in Coventry is a very convenient and hospitable location. The complimentary breakfast was a lovely touch to get retailers and exhibitors prepared for early business.
Despite the extreme weather conditions, it was great to see so many existing customers and wonderful to meet new retailers. It is good to have the space and the time to show our partners the complete ranges from Hush Puppies, Crocs, Cotswold, Base London, Rocket Dog and many others.”
Tom Powney, owner of mini chain retailer Briggs Shoes added: “Having become disillusioned with the current offers in the UK trade show calendar, we decided to attend Sole Fashion and found it really relevant to our brand profile with brands like Rieker, Josef Seibel, Padders and HB Shoes exhibiting. The venue was very accessible, food onsite was fantastic, and it was so convenient to stay at the onsite Hilton Hotel. We found the event to be really well presented, hassle free and professionally organised - I certainly hope that more of our suppliers take part.”
Exhibitor Justin Morgan, MD of HB Shoes commented; “Sole Fashion has brought a breath of fresh air to the UK show buying circuit from an HB Shoes perspective. The organisation pre-show, in-show and post-show was beyond reproach.
Unfortunately, the timing of MICAM, storms and the uncertainly in the global market were stacked against us. However, from a professional buying and selling point of view, it was an ideal scenario for both buyers and sellers to appraise the new season in a relaxed and convivial setting.”
Retailer Steve White, owner of White & Sons Sidmouth enjoyed the new buying platform on offer: "Storm Dennis hit the British Isles hard, country wide floods, traffic and train disruption, flights cancelled delivered the worst news possible for the organisers of Sole Fashion. Despite this, I ventured north from Devon to check out this new show on the calendar. Whilst these factors did affect attendance, the free breakfast, welcoming smiles and happy atmosphere were a change from other shows I have attended. The opportunity to speak with my major suppliers, whilst browsing the great new ranges on display made it a very worthwhile trip. I certainly hope to return in August.”
Sole Fashion organiser Penny Robinson commented: “I am extremely grateful to everyone who supported the first edition of Sole Fashion. I’ve had some great feedback from those who attended. Having worked tirelessly with our suppliers and partners to deliver a professional, relaxed environment with no compromise on quality, it’s rewarding to hear that both visitors and exhibitors found the event and venue to be well located and of a high standard.
Unfortunately, the timing of MICAM as well as the adverse weather did have an impact on the numbers, however, Sole Fashion is certainly gathering momentum, and after this first edition, has proved that it is a relevant and exciting proposition for the future.
Already, some exhibitors have confirmed that they will be returning in August and several prospective brand representatives who visited were very positive. I’ve also had some interesting conversations with clothing labels interested in the proposition. The venue is extremely versatile and well served in terms of capacity, enabling us to engage with other sectors as well as footwear.
The standard of brands in this first edition has been extremely high and obviously the aim is to develop this further. The commitment is to provide fashion professionals with a fresh and quality environment to do business, whilst delivering a return on investment”
About Sole Fashion:
Held in the Ericsson Hall at the award-winning The Ricoh Arena, the venue has benefitted from significant recent investment, resulting in a modern and state-of-the- art complex. Facilities onsite include bars, restaurants, casino and a Double Tree by Hilton Hotel. Ground-breaking 5G connection was in introduced in 2019 and the stadium is located within 2 hours drive for 75% of the population, with trains taking just 55 minutes from London.
The Summer edition of Sole Fashion will take place on 9th & 10th August at The Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Find out more at https://www.solefashion.co.uk/
About Ricoh Arena
Ricoh Arena is one of the UK’s most versatile venues for live sport, music, conferences and exhibitions, putting the Midlands on the map as a leading destination for events.
The venue boasts a 32,000-seater stadium bowl alongside the 6,000 square metre Ericsson Indoor Arena and 80 versatile suites for meetings. There is also an onsite 121-bedroom DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Grosvenor Casino.
The Coventry-based venue is within a two-hour car journey of 75 per cent of the UK, and is twenty minutes away from Birmingham Airport.