Liberty Fairs Owner Ponders the Future of Trade Shows – WWD

Liberty Fair takes a break as its owners contemplate the future of the trade show industry.

Last week, Sharifa Murdock, who co-founded Liberty with Sam Ben-Avraham in 2013, emailed her decision to suspend shows in New York and Las Vegas for at least the next season.

“While it has always been our mission to showcase the rising talent and innovations in the mens and womenswear industry through high-impact events and trade shows, we feel There’s no better time than now to hit the pause button and restructure our business model to better align with the forward-thinking and legacy brands we serve,” she wrote. “With that, we have made the joint decision to pause the hosting of shows at least for the winter. While it’s heartbreaking for us to have to suspend the shows so many look forward to each year, at the end of the day our goal is to protect the best interests of our brands and customers. our incredible designers – that’s why we’re taking the time to re-evaluate how we operate and launch new initiatives that will allow them to scale and scale. add value to their services in an even greater way”.

Historically, Liberty has been associated with Plan, which holds shows on the same day in both New York and Las Vegas in January and August. But that changed in 2018 when Liberty and Agenda were both forced to show in downtown Las Vegas after Plan The date has been changed and Liberty’s traditional venue at the Sands Expo Center is no longer in operation.

The project, founded by Ben-Avraham and sold to Advanstar, then-owner of Magic, in 2005, has long been the giants of the men’s trade show business. But the return of an in-person event in August fell short of participation from both exhibitors and retailers, many of whom decided to attend the Chicago Collective, held at the same time. Liberty didn’t hold an event in Vegas in August, and Murdock is glad that didn’t happen.

Reached by phone, she said that although Liberty held successful events in Miami during swim week in July and Los Angeles during the LA Men’s Market in August, “we feel the industry The menswear industry has changed and brands need smaller, regional shows like Chicago.” She sang the praises of the Chicago Collective and host Bruce Schedler. “My prediction is that the Chicago Collective is going to have a great show,” she said, noting that it could be more cost-effective for suppliers because it owns the building it operates in and also “ small and nimble”. The Italian Trade Commission also made a deal with Chicago to put its brands there instead of the Project.

Murdock said she’s watching carefully what the Chicago and Man shows will do this season – Man will also return for a live show in New York January 26-28 at the same venue. new, AG Studios in Tribeca – as well as Project, will be held January 26-27 in New York and February 14-16 in Las Vegas.

Murdock said she’s talked to both Man and the Collective about “building a stronger community for menswear. It would be sad if we didn’t learn anything in the past year.” But despite her efforts to work with Project, she was unsuccessful. “So we decided to take a break for this season and see what the others are doing.”

Many brands are still not ready to go back to traditional trade shows, she said, and with a lot of uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19 and its variations, “we don’t know what will happen.” happens in January or February, especially in Vegas, which is huge. So I have no problem sitting out a season.”

In 2018, Murdock created Envsn, a consumer event for Millennial and Gen Z women with experiential markets and activities. That’s still happening, and she hopes to host three events next year: in New York, Miami, and the Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia market.

“That’s where my heart is,” she said. She has also taken on the role of Kith’s director of impact, where she will focus on that company’s philanthropic efforts.

“Trade shows are still important, but we need to make them more important for brands to find value in,” she said. “We needed something more to excite and benefit brands.”

However, how that will be done remains to be seen.

But while Liberty may take a break, Informa, which owns Project and MAGIC, is plunging into full-blown live shows. According to Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion, “We have been focused on understanding what the industry needs now and in the future, so that we can better serve the community. The fashion industry is a very sensitive one – people want to touch and feel products and the opportunity to meet in person is crucial to that. Plus, face-to-face connection is irreplaceable and will always be key in business.”

She said that while live events will continue to be at the core of Informa’s business, the company is expanding its offering with “advanced content, education, trends and market insights as well. as digital solutions to provide better connectivity, discovery and learning for our fashion community.Digital solutions provide additional, powerful, year-long opportunities to supporting the live event experience, and we absolutely see both physical and digital as the long-term engine for us.We are excited to welcome the industry back to the catwalk throughout 2022. ” Liberty Fairs Owner Ponders the Future of Trade Shows – WWD


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