In relationship with Who’s Next since the very beginning, Kaori Hanaoka, global coordinator of the company H.P. France, is a Paris-based fashion professional and a true veteran of the trade show. Based in Paris and serving the Japanese market, the fashion buying expert talks about the specifics of her job and her perception of the industry.
1. What does H.P. France do, and what is your role in the company?
The headquarters of H.P France are in Tokyo, and the company is considered the pioneer in selection specialized in European fashion accessories, developing several stores throughout Japan. But nowadays, we also have stores in the domain of decoration or Japanese products. We also organize trade shows in Japan. With a strong focus on French creation, I represent a link between French designers and the Japanese market.
2. How do you perceive the environment as Who’s Next going back to business as usual?
It’s an absolute pleasure to get together, to say “here we are, we still exist, we stay in what we love”. This is the first edition that clearly marks the end of the pandemic era—both in terms of volume and number of exhibitors. I think there is really a great assembly that has taken place. And it’s a pleasure to see buyers and exhibitors again.
3. What impact did this have on the return from Japan?
Well, Japan was number one in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases in the last months of July and August, which made it difficult for us to sell. The return to normal was complicated for a long time, but finally, the Japanese buyers of H.P. France will start coming to Paris again at the end of September, beginning of October, for the first time after the pandemic.
4. What are the specificities of the Japanese market compared to others?
The Japanese market has long been considered an important market for French and European designers because we have this sensitivity that allows us to understand everything that goes on in creation, as well as that behind it. With a particular sensitivity for the search for excellence, marking a common point with France, the Japanese are in general very fond of novelties.
5. What kind of products are you looking to offer to your customers?
All European accessories, with a particular focus on French creation. The significant thing is to feel the craftsmanship. We try to offer our customers products that cannot be found elsewhere, something unique with a different look than industrial products. The notion of “handmade” or “artisanal” is essential to us, and it translates into real know-how. It is for all these reasons that we find real beauty in imperfection.
6. Why do you choose to come to Who’s Next rather than other fashion trade shows?
We try to visit as many trade shows as possible, but Who’s Next is a very important creative hub, an obligatory passage, the door through which everyone passes to find something new and fresh. And historically, H.P. France has been building a relationship with WSN staff for over 20 years, so there’s a sense of family.