superchat paris: edina sultanik silver

photo: edina sultanik silver lookin' cool

last week paris was the planet's focal point of next season’s men’s fashion, attracting a vast army of professionals to its many presentations, runway shows and trade shows. a leading player in the latter category is (capsule), a trade show from new york that has quickly gained a foothold in the french capital with a slew of well-crafted heritage brands. superfuture sat down for a little chat with edina sultanik silver, co-founder and partner at bpmw, the agency behind the show.

you set up your agency with business partners deirdre maloney and minya quirk. who does what, are tasks strictly divided within the company? it’s sort of divided but our roles aren't officially set in stone, everyone does what they like to do basically. so, i work in public relations and events mostly, deirdre oversees the sales department, the trade shows and the financial stuff and minya does pr + communications, and also does a lot of the writing and outreach. but we all cover for each other. two of us are working moms too, so we always have things pulling us in different directions.

you started your business initially with a focus on menswear but you launched a trade show for women last september in new york and one in october in paris. how did that launch come about? well, our men’s shows were doing really well and a lot of people felt that there was a similar need in the women’s market for this kind of niche of the market which is a little bit below designer, still commercial, not very avant-garde but still forward and progressive. so we thought we would start one and see what the market would be like and see what designers are out there. it’s been very successful so far.

has the recent economic downturn affected your line of business? i think trade shows are always important for brands, and we’re a small show so it’s not like we’re trying to get hundreds of brands to do our shows. for us there’s still a waiting list to get into the new york and paris shows. we are very anti mega-trade shows and the mega-trade show experience and we’re very selective so there’s a waiting list to get into our shows. the paris men's show is packed to the guilds, there's 90 brands here!

why did you decide to set up a (capsule) show in paris and not elsewhere in europe? when we looked at europe we thought there was a big opportunity for a show like ours that has the heritage brands and the kind of streetwear meets sportswear meets tailored meets sartorial stuff. and i don’t think anybody was doing that in paris at that time. and there are a lot of brands with that kind of aesthetic that needed a place to show. we also like the fact that paris has the fashion shows and the trade shows at the same time. it’s a very fashion forward city, there’s a lot of editors in town, there’s a really high calibre of buyers in town, and the attitude towards fashion in paris is very open and different and we thought people would like a show like ours here.

looking back at previous editions, what’s your opinion on (capsule)’s development over the years? well, we started out very small and unknown and we evolved to be very well known and almost like the top destination for menswear for sure. so, that’s exciting for us and i think it’s just a testament to the brands we have, because we have awesome designers here. everyone works together as a community, there’s that really happy vibe at the show. the retailers are excited about it, i think that the brands are excited, this segment of the market is getting stronger.

photo: the inconspicuous entrance to the (capsule) men's trade show on rue de turenne

are there any plans to expand (capsule), to a booming region such as asia for example? i'd personally do a show in asia but it’s a little scary because we don’t know anything about asia. but i would say that would be our next move. i heard china doesn’t have any multibrand stores so we don’t need one in there really. i would think maybe korea would be a good place to go but we don’t know, just starting the show here in paris was a big challenge. we kind of speak the language and we kind of can get down with the culture here, but doing something in asia we’d need a very strong partner over there to do it. at the moment we don't have any plans yet, we’d have to wait a season or two. i went to korean fashion week and would try it all again, i thought it was good! i like that the korean government gets behind everyone. especially in menswear, i thought the designers are really forward and good. there are a lot of awesome stores and i think a lot of people from all over asia go there. setting up in seoul or maybe hong kong would be a good idea. korea was sort of a ‘japan light’, it wasn’t as extreme but they definitely like fashion there. so i would say one day maybe we’ll expand again. but right now we’re just holding tight, building up the shows we have, and developing (capsule)’s women’s edition.

is there is a selection procedure for participating designers? a lot of times we invite them. but at this point our show is pretty well known. so a lot of people contact us directly. but we do have this great advisory board of fashion editors and retailers, and we do check out the brands with them: what they’re shipping, selling, how they’re generally doing. we also do research on the blogs and we also do retailer research, so we go to stores to see what’s hot. we scour the world looking for the best brands. for example, we have a retailer from copenhagen, très bien shop from sweden is also on the board. next to that we have bloomingdales, barneys and saks in new york, and we also have all the editors from nylon, gq and so on. they all give us a lot of tips.

what trends do you see at this moment? i've been seeing a lot of locally made products. so everybody is making things in their hometown. it’s not all made in asia any more. there’s a lot of shifting to making things in america. everyone is working on craftsmanship, it’s all about artisanal, heritage, sartorial and traditions. making things locally and in small batches. menswear has a very strong traditional base and i think guys right now are gravitating towards tradition but because of the internet they’re also able to do a lot of research into what goes behind every brand and also they’re able to make these connections with the designers. so because of the internet you could read about a pair of shoes and know where it’s made and what kind of leather they use and so on, which you couldn’t do ten years ago. there’s a lot of blogs and information out there that helps this market grow. guys want to buy into a piece of history, they want classic pieces that are going to last. they don’t necessarily want flight-by-night fast fashion, it’s all about slow fashion.

where do you like to hang out in paris? we usually have a lot of work so we don’t get out that much! but last night we went to le baron, and tonight we’re going to le pompon, a restaurant run by friends of ours. there's also a club in the pigalle area called chez moune where i’d like to go whenever i can.

photo: at the (capsule) men's trade show haversack was one of the fine men's brands that was present