Latest collections. Top designers from India and Pakistan say pop-ups are great avenues to introduce new styles Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: As social etiquette goes, it isn’t good manners to ask someone with a stunning outfit where they purchased it. But if curiosity gets the better of you and you do the undoable, chances are that they will tell you they picked it up at an “exhibition”.

Now, lest you become desperate and probe further the next time round, here’s the open secret: some of the best designer dresses in town are those that are snapped up at pop-ups, trunk shows and exhibitions.

Call them what you may, these short duration sales, which allow brands to showcase their lines at a specific location, are all the rage in the UAE. But far from being the novelty they were some years ago, they are now a year-round affair, providing a long-term retail solution for more and more fashion and jewellery designers.

Manisha Kumar, founder of WOW Marketing which hosted the recent Numaish lifestyle exhibition in Dubai, said, “We do at least five shows in a year. An average of 100 designers participate in these shows and the response is overwhelming.”

According to her, expats like attending exhibitions because they can find different designers under one roof. “It’s easier for them to shop at these shows than during their visits back home as they invariably have social commitments and are pressed for time.”

Top fashionistas too admit trunk shows are a great way to introduce new styles to match seasonal requirements, penetrate into new markets and gauge customer response. Above all, they are a convenient platform that saves them time, money and the hassle of setting up shop of the permanent kind.

Pakistani designer Zohra Alam, who is taking part in the Boulevard One trunk show in Dubai on May 19 and 20, said, “I mainly sell my line online where I have a loyal customer base. It’s not easy trying to hold an exhibition on my own in Dubai because of the logistics involved. So trunk shows are a great help. They enable designers to tap new segments of the market and help leverage existing clients.”

Another first-time exhibitor Momeen Teli, also from Pakistan, said, “Pop-ups are a good channel both for designers and shoppers who can access ethnic fashion wear which is not as widely available as western wear in the UAE. Trunk shows allow them to check out a variety of designer wear under one umbrella.”

Exhibitions ensure quicker sales than traditional shops. Anisha Durga of Gol Darwaza, who stocks her Lucknowi wear at several shops in Dubai, agrees.

The Indian designer, who will be taking part in Sopritti and Ensemble’s Ramadan Souk in Dubai on May 13, said, “Exhibitions are well-advertised and there is a huge turn-out of shoppers. I am able to sell a lot more pieces within a few hours at an exhibition than I would over the course of a month at a shop.”

She said exhibitions enable designers like her to have a direct interface with shoppers, giving them more flexibility with pricing and discounts.

Natasha Kamal from Lahore, also readying for Boulevard One’s Trunk Show, said, “My pret wear tends to fare better than formal wear at pop-ups. They sell much faster. Formal wear gets the required exposure and people call us later. So pop-ups are a good platform to test the market and showcase one’s products.”

Aarthi Raveendran and Payal Bachani, founders of Juvelista, a homegrown designer jewellery brand, said they host private viewings to sell their collections but are regular participants at trunk shows. “Fashion exhibitions are an essential platform for brands like us who explore different outlets to reach out to a niche market. At each exhibition, we offer something different. They also provide us with the opportunity to partner with fashionistas and design labels in Dubai.”

Upcoming pop-ups

Sopritti & Ensemble’s Ramadan Souk

May 13

Godolphin Ballroom

Emirates Towers, Dubai

Boulevard One’s Ramadan Trunk Show

May 19 & 20

The Royal Ballroom, The Palace Hotel, Downtown Dubai


Do you prefer pop-ups or permanent shops? Why?

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