There is only one place where every enthusiast of kids fashion spends the first weekend of July. It’s Paris, destination to be and be seen for all stockists, designers and media related to kids universe. The reason? Playtime Paris. The event created by siblings Sebastian de Hutten and Maria Czapska, both well rooted in the world of fashion business. The first edition was organised in Paris in 2007 and since then it has been shaping and changing the fashion industry. Since the very beginning, it was the organisers’ top priority to facilitate the contact between producers and retailers.The experience gained in this field led them to the creation of the Playologie platform.
We decided to ask Sebastian about the early days, kids fashion and future plans.
How has it all started? Why children’s industry and children’s trade show?
It has always been a family business. Our mother, Hortensia de Hutten, started it all with women’s fashion, as a stylist, then as a PR, then launching the first designers’ trade show in Paris. After several years we started taking a few children’s lines that wanted to show during fashion week in Paris and after two seasons we launched Playtime with a new concept, which was to bring together fashion, decor, design, toys… all of those universes in one place. Maternity and babygear came a few seasons after as a natural extension of the show.
After some time you started Playologie – a brilliant idea that now seems so obvious…
We noticed for quite a few seasons how buyers always loved coming to the show but, for many, placed their orders after. Too many things to see at the fair, too many great lines to choose from, few days to make some important decisions. So we decided that we needed to build a tool that would help both buyers and brands to place orders before, during or after the shows, manage those orders, change them, talk to one another and mostly save a lot of time in the process.
How does it feel to have a real (and global) influence on changes on the children’s market?
I don’t know about that… We’re here mostly to give brands the best possible visibility, to accompany them, and make sure buyers can see them in the most stimulating environment and discover new things at every show. Certainly we travel a lot to see as much as we can and try to guess what’s coming next. We have a way of seeing things, of showing lines, of communicating, and if we influence things in any way, it’s not our primary intention which is to serve brands and buyers at the best of our capabilities.
For sure it matters that it has all started in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, which, however, on the streets is very classic and balanced in clothing. How does Paris affect your work?
I was born in the US, Marie Czapska (my business partner and sister!) is Argentinian, we both have Polish backgrounds, our mother was Bolivian and our team is Swedish, Japanese, Israeli…and not one single Parisian!
Yes there’s an old tradition of fashion in Paris and it’s a gorgeous city, but indeed it has lost a bit of its aura over the past few years, and that pushes us even more to always reach a certain standard and meet the expectations of those who come to visit. A daily challenge!
What do you like in children’s industry the most? Can you still get surprised by it?
It has all the creativity – sometimes more – that you can find in women’s fashion, less the ego!
We get surprised at every show by a few designers that come up with amazing things, and we often wish we could find some of the same things for grown ups!
Do you have your favorite children’s brands?
yes I do and I can’t say! 😉
Is it a good idea to work with a sibling? Would you recommend to your friends running a family business?
There’s no trust like the one you can have with a sibling and that’s worth all the troubles that come with running a family business!
Can we ask about your sister’s Polish-sounding surname?
It’s an old Polish family that, for the most, has emigrated to other countries in the world after the second world war. Our great uncle, Josef Czapski, is very famous in Poland, as a painter, a writer and a witness to a tragic episode of the Polish history. An inspiration to many of us…
Next ideas? How do you plan changing a world of children’s industry?
Does it really need so much changing?! There are already such amazing things out there, it’s always so i nspirational. We’ve got plenty of new ideas to help people grow their business but no matter how much we run, we want to keep getting pleasure out of everything we do!
Thank you for the conversation!