Albasarí Caro on the success of BBFW and future plans
Albasarí Caro, who has more than two decades of experience in the fashion industry, having worked for brands such as Mango and Bimba and Lola, took over as director of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week in September. She has been particularly involved in the bridal sector, having led the expansion of Pronovias' international franchise network for the past 10 years. Coinciding with her first edition as director of the event, which was held from April 19 to 23, FashionNetwork.com interviewed Albasarí Caro about the current state of the bridal sector, the latest developments at the professional trade fair and runway shows, as well as her plans for the future.
FashionNetwork.com: How was the preparation process for your first edition as director, and what are your expectations for the outcome?
Albasarí Caro: The preparations have been outstanding owing to the remarkable team behind the event. My extensive expertise in the bridal industry, where I have worked for 10 years, has been an invaluable asset. The Fira team is already proficient at organising and ensuring the logistical aspects of the event. In this 2023 edition, we sought to deliver inspirational content, through the first celebration of our awards and by inviting the esteemed brand Elie Saab as guest of honour, with the aim of surprising and enticing buyers. We know that we are positioned as a leading trade show with fixed dates for all buyers and brands. Nevertheless, maintaining this position requires sustained effort. That is currently our strategy, in conjunction with our focus on sustainability and inclusivity. As a matter of fact, the casting for the runway shows is quite diverse. We are thrilled to witness the integration of diverse female body types on the runway.
From a structural standpoint, everything is functioning very well. We didn't want to change everything simply because of the transition to new leadership. After all, why change something that already works? Therefore, my focus has been on refining the smaller details, steering the event towards a more sustainable direction, and striking a balance between fresh, emerging brands and established, returning ones.
FNW: How has the transition been from working with a brand to being on the other side of the catwalk as an event organiser?
A.C: I have always worked for a single brand, whether it was Pronovias, Mango or Tous. Now, when I get questions about which brand stands out the most, I always say the same thing, that they are all outstanding and that's why they are all on our catwalk. I am like a mother who loves her children equally. Obviously, there are some brands that stand out and are references in the market but, having said that, we have to distribute our affection equally among all the brands and make them all feel welcome at our fair. Our goal is to create a place for everyone in the bridal industry, including emerging brands, established brands that have been around for many years, brands that due to their business model do not want to grow too much but have a well-established niche, etc. It's a challenging task to maintain a balance between them all. Furthermore, it is crucial to keep an eye on the new generation of brides that arrives every year. We need to offer fresh and fun designs that cater to Generation Z's preferences.
FNW: What is your analysis of the global bridal industry and how do you see Spain positioning itself as a leader compared to major markets such as the United States and China?
A.C: In the United States, for example, the bankruptcy filing of the giant David's Bridal has had a significant impact on the industry. However, as a fair, we have a strong presence in the global market. With 80% of our visitors and brands being international, we are able to navigate through challenges faced by any particular market, such as currency devaluation or a positioning challenge, as is happening now with David's Bridal, and find a balance. When one market is weaker, there are others that are stronger, which is the great thing about bringing together so many brands from around the world.
FNW: Which markets are you focusing on in particular in terms of participating brands and buyers?
A.C.: We have expanded our reach to many Asian markets and we are very pleased with the results. We welcomed many guests this year who were able to finally return after the pandemic, with a significant number of them coming from China. For example, the brand Julia Kontogruni brought in more than 100 Chinese buyers. We have also placed a strong focus on Korea, with a delegation of 40 people, as our team went there this year and made excellent selections. Furthermore, we have almost 50 guests from Japan and are showcasing brands from Singapore. We have even established a new collaboration that has brought in many buyers from Australia. Of course, we continue to nurture the markets where we already have a strong presence, such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy.
FNW: What are Asian buyers looking for when they come to Barcelona?
A.C: Asian buyers are always looking for a price point that fits their target market, first and foremost. In the bridal market, we tend to focus on craftsmanship, so there is a lot of interest in the "made in Spain" storytelling or handmade pieces, especially at a certain price point. Handcrafted clothing is a significant concern for brides, and brands are increasingly responding to this demand with their designs.
FNW: In terms of numbers, you are already above 2019 levels. How have you been able to achieve this after the blow of the pandemic? What strategies and objectives are you planning to develop in the future?
A.C: We are pleasantly surprised. We knew it was going to be a good year, but to exceed 2019 levels, which was already the best year in the event's history, has been a great accomplishment. Our primary goal is to grow the fair and, above all, offer the brands that buyers are looking for. We aim to maintain this equilibrium and be trendsetters. Our vision is to become a bridal platform that provides added value, where buyers can network, have a good time, and enjoy the trade show, which is ultimately the biggest challenge.
FNW: During several editions, you had Valmont as a sponsor. Is it part of your strategy to resume some kind of collaboration like this with another luxury brand or institution?
A.C: We are fully committed to collaborations that add value to both the trade fair and the brand. Our strategy is to work with partners and sponsors because we believe it's a "win-win" situation for both parties, and it's beneficial to have support in every way possible. Working alongside brands like Valmont or other major brands is always advantageous. Having a naming sponsor is definitely a possibility that we're considering for Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week.
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