Profile: Louise Young, Emap exhibitions director

Louise Young knows the fashion world inside-out after working on the trade show Pure for 10 years - but now the Emap exhibitions director is facing a new challenge as she launches a Summer Fair for giftware at Excel, writes Lorraine Francisco.

The fashion industry is often portrayed as fickle and cut-throat in TV shows such as Ugly Betty or films like The Devil Wears Prada, so it's refreshing to meet an adopted fashionista as pleasant and down-to-earth as Emap Retail's Louise Young.

Having worked on the organiser's fashion trade show Pure since it's inception 10 years ago, Young says she prefers the team spirit and camaraderie of exhibitions over the driven individualism of the fashion world.

She arrived in London 20 years ago from her hometown of Penicuik, near Edinburgh, and planned to stay for just a year. But after landing a job with Emap as an exhibition sales executive in 1987, and then being tempted by the bright lights of the catwalk and the launch of Pure in 1997, Young has never looked back and is now Emap Retail and Emap TPS's group exhibitions director.

"I just really enjoyed the fast pace of exhibitions and thought: 'Wow, this is what I want to do,'" she says.

Pure was originally launched to provide a 'premium trade winter event' for the clothing sector - and the rapid change in fashion trends means that Young is forever tinkering with the show's format in order to keep up. It was Young who introduced the Pure Accessories feature in 2002, for example, and since Emap acquired the trends forecast service WGSM in 2005, she has been looking at using its resources to ensure improved content for forthcoming events.

This month's event runs from 11-13 February at Olympia and carries a gothic theme. Out of 800 featured brands, at least 200 are new each year.

"We try and create shows as shopping experiences so that the environment is conducive to buying," says Young.

Now, after a decade of working on Pure, she is setting her sights on the launch of Summer Fair, a business exhibition she describes as the most significant launch for the organiser since 40deg , which closed in 2002.

Summer Fair will target the high-end gift and home accessories market and will debut at Excel from 17-20 June.

She says: "Alison Jackson, managing director at Emap TPS, has spent the past two-and-a-half years researching the need for a mid-year gift show in London. Emap has now invested a substantial amount into making it happen."

Summer Fair will sit between the Spring and Autumn Fairs and will be an edited version of the Spring Fair with an informal layout based on Pure's concept of creating a big department store. She hopes the 10,000 sqm show will attract 10,000 visitors on its first outing and attract international companies that are unable to attend the Birmingham-based Spring and Autumn Fairs because of their close proximity to Ambiente in Frankfurt and Pret a Porter in Paris.

Young believes that all trade shows can learn from the innovation and customer experiences of the high street. She says: "The Pure team always commissions the best catwalk shows and employs the best photographers for features.

"We invest heavily to ensure that all our events over-achieve past expectations.

"You can never underestimate how much time and perseverance it takes to build a show - but the sense of achievement you feel is great."

YOUNG ON ...

Unpredictable personalities ... When a buyer blames you for rain splashing on to the bottom of their white coat, or when an exhibitor tells you they will push a model off the catwalk unless the music is turned down, they really mean it.

Ethical trading ... The ethical issue will be integral to all companies and all good clothing manufacturers will aim to offer products made ethically. I think that highlighting companies that do it will be made redundant, as all companies will be doing it. It's the idea of conscious consumerism - people now want to know what they're buying is made in an ethical way.

The retail show model ... It's important that each event creates a buyer's service and provides accurate insight into future trends. The audience has to trust the show's format in order to come away knowing that they've made buying decisions that will be profitable long-term.


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