fashion trade show

What are Fashion Trade Shows (and should I attend one?)

For those stepping into fashion events for the first time, the world of fashion trade shows might seem intimidating AF.

Many of you have reached out with questions like: What exactly are fashion trade shows? When and where are they held? And, you know, is it a must for me as a freelance fashion designer?

So, in this article, I thought it would be great to do a little Fashion Trade Show 101 and cover all the details for you.

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents:

What are Fashion Trade Shows?

Fashion trade shows are the garment industry’s ultimate meet-and-greet. This is where fashion professionals like suppliers and fashion brands gather to showcase their latest products and collections to potential buyers, retailers, and other professionals in the field. 

These shows give insight into upcoming trends and new innovations – allowing industry insiders to connect and collaborate. 

In a nutshell, fashion trade shows are where the fashion world comes together to share, discover, and network.

Types of Fashion Trade Shows

There isn’t a simple answer when it comes to the types of fashion trade shows as each caters uniquely towards different segments in the fashion industry. 

For example, there are Apparel Trade Shows where fashion brands showcase their new clothing collections, from luxury to everyday wear. They can be segmented into different markets like men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion trade fairs. 

There are also what we call Textile Trade Shows that highlight fabrics and materials from various suppliers. For fashion brands interested in going green, there are even Sustainable Fashion Trade Shows where you can find eco-friendly solutions for your business, like environmentally friendly fabric, recycled packaging, and so on. 

The list goes on and on and which one to attend ultimately depends on your needs.

Let me introduce some populars ones!

Top 6 Fashion Trade Shows in the Garment Industry

There are TONS of fashion trade shows in the apparel industry.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the most popular ones to have on your radar. 


Where: Las Vegas, New York, Nashville

Type of show: apparel, accessories, fashion

Attendees: 4,000+ exhibitors, 60,000+ visitors

MAGIC, one of the largest fashion trade fairs, is a fashion trade event that showcases various fashion sectors, from apparel and accessories, to footwear and material sourcing.

Wanna learn more about Magic and if it’s right for you? I interviewed brand directors Kelly Helfman and Danielle Licata on the podcast! Fashion Startup Trade Shows: Are You Ready (And What’s The Cost)?

Pure London

Where: London

Type of show: textiles, apparel, fashion

Attendees: 700+ exhibitors, 10,000+ visitors

As one of the leading European trade shows, Pure London, offers a variety of products – women’s wear, men’s wear, and even children’s outfits. Pure London is a key fashion trade show featuring a wide spectrum of fashion, from high street to premium, making it well-renowned for connecting brands, buyers, and retailers, 

Première Vision

Where: Paris, France

Type of show: textiles, fashion

Attendees: 2,000+ exhibitors, 58,000+ visitors

Known as the ultimate textile trade show, Première Vision Paris is a global platform for sourcing fabrics, materials, and new innovations in the market.


Where: Birmingham, UK

Type of show: apparel, accessories, home goods

Attendees: 500+ exhibitors, 34,000+ visitors

MODA is one of the leading fashion trade shows showcasing seasonal collections in clothing, footwear, and fashion accessories, including jewelry and watches. With a longstanding legacy in the UK’s fashion scene, this event is a treasure trove of fresh trends, emerging designers, and must-have styles that will hit the upcoming season.

International Apparel & Textile Fair

Where: Dubai, U.A.E.

Type of show: textiles, apparel, fashion

Attendees: 600+ exhibitors, 15,000+ visitors

IATF brings together global apparel and textile manufacturers, serving as a vital platform for sourcing, networking, and exploring international trends.

The Fabric Shows

Where: Dallas, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Miami

Type of show: textiles, trims

Formerly known as DG Expo, The Fabric Shows is a prominent trade show that presents a diverse array of textile and trim suppliers from the U.S.A., Europe, and Canada. The event highlights ‘Made in USA’ products, low minimum order options, stock programs, and manufacturing solutions catering to both small and large production needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Fabric Shows, here’s an interview I did with Trish of DG Expo (before it was called The Fabric Shows) on the podcast! Make the Most of a Fashion Sourcing Trade Show for Your Clothing Line.

Scheduling & Timing of Fashion Trade Shows

In the fashion world, timing is everything.

Most reputable fashion trade shows sync up with what’s known as the “buying season.” If you’re not familiar, “buying season” is the time when retailers decide what pieces to stock for upcoming seasons. Fashion trade fair season takes place biannually, at the beginning and middle of the year – specifically, January-February and around July-September. 

One key thing to remember is that a trade fair showcases collections months before they hit the stores. Fashion trade shows kick off in January-February for Autumn/Winter styles and July-September trade shows are for Spring/Summer looks for the following year.

If you want detailed dates, you can check the websites of each trade show as the specific dates may vary each year. 

What are the Benefits of Attending Fashion Trade Shows?

One of the most important questions I get is – is it even worth it to go to fashion trade shows?

Well… it depends. 

Attending these shows can be really helpful for your career as a designer, but it’s essential to understand your motive. There are several reasons why fashion designers, fashion brands, and buyers attend fashion trade shows.

Check-out the list below and see if the benefits tick your boxes!

  • Networking: Trade shows are a hub of industry professionals – designers, buyers, suppliers, all in one place. Think of it as speed dating with fellow fashion professionals. It could lead to promising collaborations or partnerships that could have been more difficult to form otherwise.
  • Trend insights: For those who want key insights to upcoming trends, fashion trade shows are the place to be. You’ll see a lot of emerging styles, materials, and technologies, way before they hit the market. These insights can help design your collections accordingly, making them potential hot-sellers when they hit the market.
  • Sell directly to buyers: For fashion brands, being a part of fashion trade shows means sales opportunities galore. Potential buyers get firsthand experience of your products, while you get the opportunity to talk about your clothing collections IRL.
  • Learning opportunities: Many trade shows offer seminars and talks by experts. It’s a chance to gain insights into market trends, branding, fabric development, and other interesting topics.
benefits of attending fashion trade shows

So, the million-dollar question remains: Should you attend fashion trade shows?

If you said yes to the benefits above, you might want to consider attending a fashion trade show.

But, don’t decide so quickly! Attending trade shows can be pricey and you’ll also have to spend a lot of time in between preparing and being at the event. If you’re attending overseas fashion trade shows, fees, travel, and logistics also add up.

Most fashion designers that are working in corporate or in-house for a fashion brand may get opportunities to attend fashion trade shows with all expenses paid for by the brand, but as you know, it’s a little different for freelancers or startup brands.


What About Fashion Trade Shows for Freelance Fashion Designers?

Bottomline is – going to these events isn’t a must for freelancers. But let’s face it, they can be beneficial for your career. Fashion trade shows are a ticket to connect with potential buyers and fellow fashion professionals. Plus, they keep you in the loop on the latest styles and fabric development trends that are about to dominate the industry.

Especially if you’re freelancing from home, it’s easy to get caught in a virtual bubble. Hitting the scene in person is like getting a front-row seat to catch the latest trends and new products.

Something to keep in mind is to clarify what types of services you offer as a freelancer. If sourcing is a freelance service that you are clearly offering as a part of your package, going to reputable fashion trade shows where you can meet potential manufacturers and suppliers is kinda, well, part of your job!

Otherwise, attendance is purely up to your discretion!

Who Pays for Freelance Fashion Designers to Attend Fashion Trade Shows?

Who foots the bill for these trips depends largely on your individual contracts and discussions with your clients.

Those who’ve been working closely with a client for a long time may get the opportunity to be invited to attend trade shows. And if your client specifically asked you to, then hey – you have the right to ask them to cover the costs related to participating in the event, including travel, accommodation, and any registration fees.

But let’s face it – more often than not, us freelancers have to take it upon ourselves to attend events like these and cover our own expenses. If you have the budget, and see fashion trade shows being beneficial to boost your career, I’d say go for it!

Pro Tip: From my experience as a freelance fashion designer, receiving invitations to attend fashion trade shows (with all expenses paid) was very rare. So, what I used to do was check if any fashion trade shows coincided with my personal travels and include them in my itinerary – talk about two birds with one stone!

How to Prepare for a Fashion Trade Show

how to prepare for a fashion trade show

You’ve got tickets booked, your accommodation sorted out – what’s next? 

You can get a lot from fashion trade shows. But it’s not just about showing up, you need to prep and plan ahead.

Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Set your goals: Are you there to make new contacts, meet potential suppliers, trend scout? Clarify your goals before starting anything.
  • Know the deets: Check the dates, location, exhibitors, schedule. Fashion trade shows have hundreds of exhibitors, and thousands of attendees. It’s easy to get lost in a maze!
  • Pack Right: Beyond your outfits – pack business cards, portfolio, samples, and tons of water! 
  • Dress comfortably: You’ll be on your feet for hours, so pick comfy shoes and clothes that can handle aaalll the walking.
  • Nail your intro: You’ll be speaking to tons of people throughout the day so it’s helpful to have a script prepared. Briefly talk about who you are, your fashion brand (or your freelance services), and what you’re looking to get out of the trade show.
  • Keep your devices handy: Bring your phone, tablet, or camera to quickly access your portfolio and snap some trend inspos. 😉
  • Stay open: Everyone’s a connection waiting to happen. Approach conversations with an open mind. 
  • Follow up: Don’t lose the momentum. Follow up with emails and keep those connections alive even after the trade show is over.

Making the Most Out of Fashion Trade Shows

Fashion trade shows are more than just a gathering of industry professionals. They’re an opportunity for designers like you to learn, network with peers, and gain valuable insights into the latest trends and materials

While attending these events can provide numerous benefits such as exposure, learning opportunities, and potential collaborations – the reality is that they’re not as accessible for everyone, especially for freelancers.

Which is why for freelance fashion designers, or anyone considering attending fashion trade shows for that matter – understanding your goal at these events is key. 

And if you’re fortunate enough to get in one, make the most out of it by preparing ahead and embracing the experience – make meaningful connections, learn from the professionals, and discover trends ahead of you.

FAQs in Relation to Fashion Trade Shows

Q: What is a trade show in fashion?

A fashion trade show is an event where suppliers, designers, retailers, and other fashion professionals gather to network, showcase new collections and materials, discover trends, and conduct business.

Q: What is the largest fashion trade show in the US?

MAGIC Las Vegas is one of the largest fashion trade fairs in the U.S., featuring menswear, womenswear, footwear, and sourcing resources.

Q: When are fashion trade shows held?

Fashion trade shows are usually held twice a year, around January-February and July-September. 

Q: Where are fashion trade shows held?

The locations of fashion trade shows vary depending on the show, but they’re often held in fashion and manufacturing capitals like Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris, Dubai, and China.

Q: What types of fashion trade shows are there?

There are many types of fashion trade shows, each catering to different segments of the fashion industry. Some focus on clothing, while others showcase textiles, sustainable fashion, sourcing and more.

Get the Freedom and Pride That Comes with Taking Charge of Your Own Destiny in Fashion

I’m Heidi, and I believe that you can do things differently in your fashion career.

Because the truth is, most industry jobs will underpay and overwork you. Having your own brand is far from profitable (and let’s be honest, most of them fail). 

So if you ACTUALLY want to work as a fashion designer and get paid, the best way to do it is as a freelancer.

Now, maybe you’ve been told that “brands don’t accept remote freelancers”…

Or believe that freelancing means being an exploited temp employee working full time without benefits…

Or to freelance, you have to be a rockstar expert with allll the skills from design through development

I’m going to show that it IS possible to be a REAL freelancer in fashion, work remotely with brands you love, AND make money (even if you’re terrified you don’t have all the answers).


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