The Role of Fairs in the Development and Division of Fields: CPH Kids and Danish Children's Fashion

Fabian Csaba, Frederik Larsen

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    During the Copenhagen Fashion Week A/W 2010, CPH Kids opened as the first independent trade fair for children’s clothing. Despite considerable resistance, the fair managed to establish itself and challenge the established order by providing a venue devoted fully to children’s clothing and luring away exhibitors and visitors looking for change. In this paper, we analyze the dynamic development and distinctive traits of the children’s clothing sector symbolized at the new fair. Our study contributes to inquiry into the role of fairs and festivals in the creative industries by examining the special case of coinciding, competing trade fairs. We introduce and build on three closely related, but in our view complementary, concepts applied and developed in analyses of festivals, trade shows and other kinds of temporary, usually competitive events, namely tournament rituals, field configuring events and tournaments of value. We establish the common ground of the three approaches, particular their assertion of the rich research potential and vital significance of festivals, fairs and similar events for many fields, whether deemed creative or not. We also single out particular strengths of each approach, which inform our inquiry. They review of theory, points to how existing work has explored fairs as arenas of conflict between exhibitors as well as the rivalry between events separated in time and/or
    place. In our case, we demonstrate how the emergence of a rival fair both incites and exposes division or segmentation of a field. This observation in our view, challenges prevailing understandings of the relationship between fields and the events, we assume represent and shape them. We argue that it is more complicated than extant theory suggests, and this has implications for the analysis of the fairs and to their role in configuring field. We raise questions about the precise manner in and extent to which events configure field, and point to the agency of event organizers, the fair context and the
    fair as medium as factors that need to be factored in. The reflections on the field configuring capacity of fairs and similar event, inform our explorations of Danish childrenswear. Following the tournament of value-approach, we place values – more specifically how different values are affirmed and negotiated at the fairs – at the center of our analysis. The approach suggests, that symbolic value, and
    ultimately the (economic) value exchange value, of cultural products are established through judgments of their technical/material, social, situational, appreciative and utility values. However, we do not focus as much on specific evaluative practices in the field, as the cultural values and norms around which childhood is constructed. These values are vital for the field of children’s clothing, so we address contemporary concerns about childhood placing a particular emphasis on the Nordic context with its the notion of “the competent child”. While our analysis only offers only selected snapshots of the many
    activities at the two fairs, we have pointed to some of the ways in which positions are staked, values are addressed, forms of capital built and exchanged, and different field configuring mechanisms operate. We conclude, that while further research is required to gauge the field configuring impact of CPH Kids and explore the values, identities and structures of Danish children’s fashion in more depth, our investigation points to the field dividing impact that fairs might have.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    PublisherCopenhagen Business School [wp]
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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