Visitors from retailers including Clintons, Oliver Bonas, Fenwick Ltd, Cardzone, Lakeland, M&S, Matalan, Pengethley Garden Centre, Aldi, Tesco, TJX Europe, Toys R Us, The Works, WHSMITH, Wm Morrisons Supermarkets, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, British Garden Centres, After Noah, Barnado’s, Blue Diamond, Brown Thomas Arnotts, Chatsworth Estate, Cotswold Living, Jarrold, Lark London, Longleat, Menarys, Ragdale Hall, Scotts of Stow, The British Museum Company, The Walt Disney Company, attended on day two of Autumn Fair, the UK’s leading wholesale marketplace for home, gift and fashion taking place until 6th September at NEC Birmingham, and were treated to a stimulating and informative day of trends and product inspiration.
In collaboration with its trend agency partner TrendBible, Autumn Fair hosted two trend presentations focusing on the key lifestyle trends for home, gifting and celebration delivering vital insights into the consumer behaviours and lifestyle choices set to underpin product and design trends over the next 12 months.
Naomi Pollard, Head of Publications at TrendBible opened the trends programme this morning with the much-anticipated Home and Interior Lifestyle Trends for 2024 and an overview of four key Macro Trends that carry throughout the year; The Great Renovation, Meta Discovery, Democratising Domesticity and Inherent in Nature. Pollard gave the audience an in-depth insight into The Great Renovation.
Embedded in social and cultural threads, The Great Renovation sees households undertaking a shift where the home becomes a sanctuary; blended families need more flexibility and continued focus moves towards a more carbon-neutral future. Textile is key in this trend, the psychological impact of colours takes effect, with peachy apricots and deep dark browns injecting warmth. This is translated into products with consumers starting to future-proof with quality items that can be adapted to weather-specific elements.
Four SS24 trends were also introduced; Avatar Lounge, Natural Balance, Memory Collectors and Space to Heal. Noami took the audience through the latter, Space to Heal, which sits at the intersection of self-care and sustainability. The self-care movement is maturing, we’re entering an anti-hustle mindset where the focus is on the sustainability of a lifestyle. Comfort is found in a heightened sense of what is around us and what we really need. This is a meaningful form of minimalism, softness sits alongside frugality with a pastel colour palette. Delicate dusky peach and mauve tones make up the base of this palette, combined with soft hazy greens; a discreet pop of acid lemon yellow is gently uplifting, making it feel brighter for spring/summer. This palette has been designed for mixing and matching providing opportunities for layering of décor.
Looking at Autumn/Winter 2024/25, Pollard introduced Soul Searching, The Last Forest, High Vibe and Rework. Rework touches on the new fundamentals in functional interiors; future proofing and playful utility. Products cover a wide scope with a focus on making and mending, a greater respect for makers, where workmanship replaces craftsmanship. Home accessories are functional and playful; elevating mundane items in the home to bring joy. Colour-blocked cook and dine products give a chic canteen vibe, whilst dining experiences are low-key and casual. Stationery and greetings are bright and bold designs inspired by graphic design contrasting with colour block stripes.
The afternoon trend session, Trendbible’s AW24 Gifting and Celebration Trends gave insight into two trends; Modern Love a celebration of hedonism, and 2024 festive trend Retracing Roots.
Modern Love follows the resurgence of Goth culture with a glamorous twist. The pursuit of pleasure defines this rebellious story for 2024; lavish dinners and extravagant parties offer the perfect outlet to indulge. Design is inspired by a melting pot of anti-establishment movements embracing goth and punk; gothic typefaces sit alongside Neo-traditional tattoo-inspired illustrations, and ‘rock hand’ motifs. Messages and editorials are not for the faint of heart with a heavy dose of dark humour and profanity. This clashes with the sugary sweet and overtly feminine touches here, like bold pink and red stripes, lips and heart repeat patterns.
There’s a desire to break away from tradition entirely for the occasions, and that ‘do it your way’ mentality influences the rise of alternative weddings, where brides wear black and grooms wear pink – there are no rules. Food and drink are driven by pure indulgence from caviar and champagne to fast food. Pollard says, “Embrace the wild, hedonistic spirit of this trend which invites customers to let go of their emotional luggage for a moment. Celebration is found in freedom from social norms, indulging without guilt and embracing the basic human coping mechanism of humour in difficult times.”
Retracing Roots, TrendBible’s AW24 Festive Trend brings a sense of connection; a universal craving that will resonate across the globe during the festive season. There’s a Northeast European theme emerging here driven by socio-political factors. Family and friends gather festive rituals old or new, from telling stories to unboxing decorative treasures. Traditional carved wooden ornaments are designed to be preserved and passed on through generations. The spotlight on Eastern Europe influences pattern and illustration with folk-inspired florals painted and embroidered across accessories, baubles and gifts.
The palette here is rich, with florals for the winter season and a familiar festive palette of rich berry tones that feel comforting and nostalgic. Classic reds and greens sit alongside burgundy wine shades, delicate gold and pale pinks which add a bit of magic and luxury here. Dense florals showcase the richness of the palette, alongside quilting-inspired coordinates for luxurious, festive gift wrap.
On the show floor, reports continued to flow with positivity from retailers and exhibitors. The show also welcomed a host of new retailers who visited the show for the first time.
First-timers Denise Gammer & Paula Roberts, from Chic Boutique xx in Pembroke said, “It is the first Autumn Fair for us, We are looking for clothing, footwear and accessories, I like to be able to feel and see the products so it was important for us to come. All the communications regarding Connect were really easy to follow with clear instructions and information. We easily managed to create our profile and it was handy to find people, see their products and stand numbers then click through where they are on the map. We planned our days this way, booking meetings hall by hall for each day. It was much easier than moving around between the halls all day. We have just had our Connect meeting with Goose Island and really like My Doris. The Connect lounge has been nice, we needed the rest!”
Deborah Waddle from The Pineapple Room, Whitley Bay adds, “This is our first visit to Autumn Fair, and we are on our second day at the show. We wanted to look for particular things and have found most of them. The stands have been really busy, we watched the fashion show which was really good. We used the app and made a couple of meetings but our train was delayed so had to cancel them, but would definitely use Connect to organise meetings again as it makes it easier to navigate around the show.”
Longstanding visitor Ann Dicken from At Home Furnishings in Stockton-on-Tees said, “I’ve been coming to this show for about 20 years, this year is good, we’ve seen some new suppliers. This fair is great, it’s big so you can walk around a few times and still find hidden gems. It’s my favourite show, it’s less stressful compared to the other shows I attend.”
Regular visitor, Robin Johnston from No 34 Boutique in Market Harborough said, “This is our first day at the show, we are old hands at Autumn Fair, we generally know who we need to see and have a focused day visiting stands we know, we don’t wander around. We have existing relationships but we do like to identify new suppliers, and we found them via Connect. There are a couple of sock suppliers, one we have worked with consistently and they keep upping their game, and another, Socktopus, who we found through Connect and we had a meeting with them that was really good. The way the show is set out makes it very easy for us to do an efficient day.”
Another Connect advocate, Laura Wright from Flutter Home & Gift in Derby said, “There’s loads here, such a variety. It’s really great to be here. I have used the Connect app, it’s amazing. The Connect buyers lounge is brilliant because it’s a really good calm space to come and gather your thoughts. I have used the app, it’s great that there is a map and you can bookmark the places you want to go to and use the directions, just like Google Maps. It’s such a big show I can easily get lost so this has really helped.”
Marianne Lindsay from Wilkies Trading Ltd, Scotland was also positive, “It is great to see everything under one roof. There is a good assortment of brands and categories, it works really well for us. It’s good to pick up some newness and excitement. When you walk around the trends start to show, and you don’t see that if you don’t visit trade shows. I love the New Product Showcase, the theme looks wonderful. It’s been full on today, but really good, I’ve gone mad buying and then I can relax a bit. I walk the show first, then walk back otherwise I’m like a child in a sweetshop! I have used the Connect app, it’s so helpful as the show can feel like a rabbit warren, and the map is so helpful. It’s very user-friendly. I have 2 Connect meetings tomorrow. I think next season with more understanding of the platform it will be really helpful.”
Mark Warr from Bumble Living in Monmouth benefited from the show’s feature areas, saying “The show is good, there are some interesting things here. There are some nice smaller brands exhibiting, rather than all the big brands, it’s nice to see something a little bit unusual. We are out looking for something a little bit different to what we are currently doing. We found some nice greetings and note cards. We also found some cool umbrellas by Emily Smith. The New Product Showcase is handy and The Gift Of The Year helps direct us where to go.”
Upbeat feedback from exhibitors included Sally Thompson, Head of Sales from Half Moon Bay who is having a great show, saying “We have met our existing and new customers at Autumn Fair. Connect meetings have been good for us, including international connections and have given us an opportunity to show our By Design range, which we have had really good feedback on.”
Oliver Butts, Managing Director, The English Soap Company was also over the moon saying, “The show has gone fantastically well, we’re delighted with the Autumn Fair. It is great to get the orders in and then you can plan for Christmas as well. We have definitely seen the people we wanted to meet, a combination of new customers and new businesses as well as our key existing customers. We sell hand creams, hand soaps, washes and similar products and the show environment is essential for customers to come and try, feel and smell our products, the trade shows really do anchor our business.”
Adam Langley, Sales Director, Professor Puzzle commented, “We have had a great show, it has been really busy today and yesterday. Yesterday we took a very good amount of orders and today we have seen a good amount of great customers from both independents and majors, We have had people from a real cross-section of the market, WHSmith, Lakeland, and we have had meetings with The Works. So far Sunday and Monday have been a great and solid show, with a good level of business.”
Rob Franks, Managing Director of Nova Leathers, was buoyed by the new business opportunities, “We have had a really good show, it has been really positive. We have been able to meet with lots of our clients and also just as importantly picked up new stockists across boutiques and garden centres.”
The show reopens tomorrow at 9 a.m. with a content focus on sustainability with the Products of Change team. Visit www.autumnfair.com for more information.
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About Autumn Fair
As the buyer’s one-stop marketplace for everything new and on-trend for 2023, Autumn Fair is the leading home, gift and fashion buying showcase. It runs from 3rd – 6th September at NEC Birmingham. Offering a treasure trove of new ideas and new trends just waiting to be discovered and displayed in shops, garden centres, showrooms, or e-commerce platforms, Autumn Fair is the place to touch, feel, and experience what’s new and innovative across the home, gift, and fashion retail industry. The show encompasses 11 sectors within four destinations – Home which includes Home, Living & Décor, Everyday, and The Summerhouse; Gift including Gift, Beauty & Wellbeing, Greetings & Stationery, and Kids, Toys & Play; and Moda fashion featuring its own Catwalk as well as Jewellery & Watch, Clothing, Fashion Accessories, and Footwear; plus, with the newly launched responsible sourcing show Source Home & Gift, the variety of products at Autumn Fair is unmatched. From contemporary gifts to greeting cards, candles and garden accessories, children’s toys and outerwear, footwear and furniture, there are endless opportunities to find your next bestsellers.