Meet Sebastien de Hutten Organizer of Playtime Paris

Last weekend, on January 24th I had the opportunity to interview Sebastien de Hutten, organizer of Playtime Paris, prior to the opening of the 15th edition of the trade show held at the Parc du Floral in Paris, France. More than 400 designers exhibited their Fall/Winter 2014/15 collection to over 8000 visitors, including buyers from 69 countries. What’s interesting is that Playtime Paris has a real international drawing power and continues to attract both designers and visitors from around the globe. So what makes Playtime Paris so special that it attracts international visitors?

Read Interview with Sebastien de Hutten Organizer of Playtime Paris

“Playtime Paris is a family business. It started a long time ago with women’s fashion. Actually it was started by my mother who was a PR and a stylist. She was really the first to launch a designer’s trade show in Paris. It was called Workshop. It was really a very tiny selection of up and coming designers. My mother was very famous in that circle of fashion. The show developed and stopped, then we started another show. At some point we had the idea, because some people were asking for it, to integrate children’s fashion to that women’s show. After two seasons we realized that there was something that was really of demand there, because there was nothing really at that time in Paris.

So we launched Playtime. It started with 44 brands 7 years ago and is now showcasing over 400 brands in Paris. The concept at the time was very new because it was the first show that was giving the possibility for buyers to get a collection from all Universes. Which means there was children’s fashion, there was childcare, there was maternity, there was deco design – all the fields related to children and maternity as well.

What we really wanted here at Playtime, and I think this is one of the main differences, is that it’s an inspiring trade show. A very, very inspiring trade show. There’s a human contact. However big the show is, one always feels one is in a small show. You go through the aisles, and you haven’t reached aisle C that you realize that you’re running out of time. There are still another ten aisles after that to see. It’s just that you want to stop everywhere because everything looks fabulous at the show.

This is what we want – inspiration, excitement. It’s all about fashion, style, design, deco, maternity with fashion. It’s another thing. It’s another world…we’re talking about style here most of all.

The main difference between Playtime and most other shows is that you’re going to meet designers here most of the time. Not distributors, not agents, but the designers themselves. Which is very important I think because most of the collections we have here, and one important thing is that we have a selection process in that show. Most of the collections that come here are inspired collections. Collections with a history. That have a Universe. That have themes and an atmosphere. If you’re going to be selling those collections in your shop, you need to know what they are about. And you need to talk to the designer. You need to know what’s the story behind those collections.

We have always had trend spaces at the show. And have always wanted to bring art into fashion as well, as they have always been close to each other. Every season, we find new up-and-coming artists to work with us on the trend spaces. We decide on a theme each season, and we ask them to work on it, and see what their inspiration brings them. And so there’s an art installation. Every single trend space at the show is an art installation associated with a trend.

There’s about 60% of international buyers coming to Playtime Paris. 70% of brands exhibiting here come from all over the world. When I say all over the world it’s everywhere – Australia, Japan, Korea, United States, all over Europe, South America, South Africa – from everywhere really. That gives it a completely different sensation. There’s so much exchange here it’s a very international feeling. And it shows. The atmosphere is something completely different. If a brand needs to reach international buyers that is definitely the show.

We expanded to Tokyo first (and afterwards decided to expand to New York). The reason why we did that is that we felt the need a good Asian trade show, more directed towards a local market, that doesn’t travel really.

The reason why we went to New York is the same one as well. We were in contact with lots of American collections that kept telling us, do something in New York, because there is nothing similar to that really. There are other shows in America, but none really are close to what Playtime is. We’re trying to give buyers in America something that is extremely international, stylish, and inspiring.

When we say inspiring it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be crazily expensive, or so much more expensive than anywhere else. That’s something people have mistaken most of the time. It just means that you can show collections in an inspiring way. You’re designing something beautiful. You want it to be showcased in a beautiful way.” – Sebastien de Hutten, Playtime Paris

Thanks to Sebastien de Hutten for the video interview at Playtime Paris. I’m looking forward to the next Summer edition of Playtime Paris to take place on July 5-7 at the Parc du Floral in Paris.