Despite the challenges of the pandemic and cancellation of its summer 2020 and winter 2021 events, Harrogate Fashion Week, which launched in 2018, is set to grow into a leading event in its sector.
In a show of faith in the venue, organisers have now booked Harrogate Convention Centre for the next two years into 2023 for its twice-yearly exhibitions aimed at independent fashion retailers across the UK and Ireland.
The events will delivery approximately £400,000 in economic benefit to Harrogate District.
More than 100 brands are exhibiting across 70 stands, with 700 attendees at the venue from February 6-7.
Paula Lorimer, Director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “It’s promising to see Harrogate Fashion Week go from strength-to-strength, and for our venue and town to be so integral to the success of the event. Exhibitions returning year-on-year is critically important.
"These stalwart shows provide a backbone to the wider local economy. Exhibitions are key drivers of serious footfall, so are vital to the district’s future as the economy recovers from Covid.”
Wendy Adams, who co-organises Harrogate Fashion Week with Sarah Moody, said: “Our first show in Harrogate after the pandemic was August 2021, and we were really pleased to get back to a face-to-face show in the fashion industry. We aim to get bigger and build to 1,000 visitors a day.
“Our visitors tend to be women, aged 30-60 who find Harrogate a really beautiful town to visit.
"They like to call in at Bettys, do a bit of shopping, and make an experience out of their buying trip.
"We anticipated the future of the competition in our industry and saw real opportunity in Harrogate.
"The pandemic has been tough but our exhibitors trust us and our personal touch, and we’re seeing new exhibitors who have been priced out of other exhibitions preferring to go to Harrogate instead.
Harrogate Fashion Week offers a boost to local hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes, and includes a bespoke party for exhibitors and buyers, hosted this season at Cold Bath Brewery.
Wendy Adams said: “Harrogate Convention Centre is right in the heart of the town with the hotels within walking distance, and so many restaurants and bars for networking out of hours, which is a huge part of the attraction.
"Harrogate is a lot more accessible now with direct train links from London and Leeds Bradford Airport close by for buyers coming from Ireland.
"Our visitors like that they can park at a hotel and just walk everywhere, and it’s a safe and pleasant environment. They just really like the whole atmosphere of Harrogate.”
Harrogate Fashion Week is one of a string of newly signed returning trade exhibitions with two-, three- or four-year contracts with the venue.
A typical year of events sees more than 150,000 visitors to Harrogate Convention Centre, with an economic impact of £35 million, which supports many local businesses and thousands of jobs, particularly in the hospitality trade.
Paula Lorimer, Director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: "The exhibitions we’ve hosted to date have shown a strong appetite for live in-person events, where buying confidence is strong and attendance matches or near matches pre-pandemic figures.
"This positive bounce back is very reassuring and welcome news for the many businesses that depend on this footfall.”