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Regional Trade Shows Gain Ground as National Events Seek to Evolve – WWD

Stroll the aisles at a trade exhibition has long been embraced by menswear retailers looking for seasonal trends and discovering new brands.

But like everything else in the fashion industry, the pandemic has caused major disruption in the fashion industry trade exhibition industry. Performances have been canceled and mostly recreated with varying success rates. Brands contact retailers directly, send samples, and hold Zoom calls as a way to showcase their latest collections, and regional shows have seen a surge in popularity. Interest and attendance returned markedly when merchants chose to stay closer to home.

Although Informa Markets Fashion has returned a live show for MAGIC and Plan in Las Vegas in August, many big brands have decided to sit out and not show. Ditto for the many men’s retailers who attended. An unfortunate chronological overlap with the Chicago Collective shows merchants choosing Windy City over Las Vegas with its many influential stores following designers and contemporary brands, as well as brands. Europe sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, to the Midwest.

The situation continues to evolve this year. On Tuesday, Plan canceled its January mens-only show in New York, scheduled for January 26 and 27. That follows Liberty Fairs’ decision in December to “pause” the shows. Winter trade shows in New York and Las Vegas. The Project’s decision was attributed to an effort to “better serve the menswear community,” but was certainly influenced by the spike in COVID-19 cases across the United States over the past few weeks. Liberty co-founder Sharifa Murdock said she is taking the time to “reengineer” the show’s business model.

For now, Informa plans to continue with MAGIC and Project’s male and female shows in Las Vegas from February 14 to 16 as well as the Project show in New York in July. Agenda plans to return to Caesars Palace in Vegas on the same day. February 15 and 16 and Man will return for a live performance in New York January 26-28 at a new venue, AG Studios in TriBeCa.

The Chicago Collective, scheduled for February 6-8, continues, as does the Dallas Market Center performance January 29-31, the area shows continuing. continue to increase in importance as they are generally less expensive for exhibitors and attendees and they focus on the higher end of the market.

In particular, the Chicago Collective is attracting a lot of attention from exhibitors and retailers. According to Bruce Schedler, vice president of the Chicago Collective, the August show had a waiting list for exhibitors trying to win space in the 250,000-square-foot gallery and attract 1,200 buyers. “In my 24 years,” he said, “this is the best show we’ve ever had.”

He expects the momentum to continue this year.

“We don’t want to be big, we want to be a great show. February 2020 was phenomenal as so many big brands joined us and the August show followed. It was very gratifying,” he said.

It also marks the debut of the Italian Trade Commission brands to the trade show floor in Chicago. For years, ITC brought its brands to the Mrket/Project show in New York – Project’s then parent company bought the Mrket men’s show and merged it into Project a few years ago. Last January, before the pandemic, ITC brought about 30 companies on Project Digital, and there were 28 brands in Chicago.

Chicago Merchandise Mart

Chicago Merchandise Supermarket.
WWD staff

Schedler said ITC will nearly double its brand listings in Chicago in February with more than 50 brands expected to exhibit, including Zanella, Lubiam, Corneliani and Boglioli.

Overall, about 370 exhibitors are expected to take part in the February show at the merchandise supermarket. He is expecting retailers from every state as well as Canada, which have now opened their borders. Although the majority of attendees were independent retailers, professionals were also spotted at the show, including Macy’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom and others, according to the sources.

What retailers attending won’t find there, however, are streetwear brands. “It wasn’t us,” said Schedler. “We chose our direction and it was better menswear.”

The Dallas Market Center is also gearing up for a strong show later this month.

The summer edition of the Dallas Men Show in August was the largest in its history, offering more than 700 brands – 143 of them new – to a retail audience that has grown by more than 200 percent, 25 of them. attend for the first time.

The January show is expected to feature 850 brands in both permanent showrooms and temporary spaces set up for the men’s market.

“Retailers are looking for efficiency,” said Cole Daugherty, senior vice president of marketing for the Dallas Market Center. “Their time is more precious than ever, and they can get things done here faster and view a wide variety of categories in one easy-to-operate marketplace.”

Among the brands on offer are Billy Reid, Psycho Bunny, Faherty and Tommy Bahama.

Brands like these attract not only specialty stores but also large stores like Dillard’s, which have offices in supermarkets, said Eva Walsh, executive vice president of rentals for Dallas Market Center.

Dallas Market Center.

Dallas Market Center.

“Buyer traffic has traditionally been an area with limited brand choices,” says Daugherty. “But now that we’ve expanded our mix, we’ve seen growth from the Southeast and Midwest as well as the West and Northeast.”

But as these shows become more and more popular, they’re still a fraction of the size of MAGIC, which brings thousands of exhibitors in a wide range of categories to Las Vegas twice a year.

Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion, said she “feels positive” after the August issue, which “proved that we can safely do large-scale shows . The feedback we have received from brands and retailers has been phenomenal and we feel comfortable returning to Las Vegas. ”

Although she declined to provide numbers, she said there will be “a mix of new brands and traditional anchor products” at the Convention Center in February.

As the 800-pound gorilla of the trade show industry, MAGIC and its affiliate programs have always gone against regions in the region, “but we do offer one,” she said. another suggestion.” That includes large women’s, streetwear, footwear and sourcing exhibitors as well as huge educational offers from WGSN, Highsnobiety and others.

Helfman said she believes in the future of trade shows, even though they need to evolve beyond what has been offered for decades. “It’s not the future,” she said. “We need to be much more innovative” by including digital options, marketing services and other assets that are considered valuable to the industry today, such as matching people buy with brand. “Face-to-face will forever be in fashion, but it is no longer the traditional model and anyone who continues down that path is going to have a hard time,” she said. “The number one reason to attend a trade show is to discover new brands and that is very difficult to do outside of in-person events.”

Peter Leff, vice president of wholesale operations at Tommy Bahama, is still a fan of trade shows, but won’t be exhibiting in Las Vegas in February. The company wasn’t there in August either.

“We have a substantial wholesale base so we are very supportive of trade shows,” he said. But the smaller, regional shows are where the brand’s attention is focused this year, including Chicago, Dallas and Charlotte, NC. “When talking to our accounts, they mostly go to Chicago. ,” he said. And while some plan to go to Vegas, Tommy Bahama will meet them in a hotel suite, not on the trade show floor.

“There are a lot of real positives about Chicago,” Leff said. “They manage the brands so there aren’t a lot of bad brands. They also have a good script with setting and twists, better food, seminars and Bloody Mary’s in the afternoon. The show also attracts a lot of better specialty stores, which represent a significant amount of business for the brand.

He said Tommy Bahama could eventually return to perform at Project, but that depends on retail customer participation. And after introducing it at last year’s Coterie women’s show, the brand is continuing that product this winter as well. “It’s not as strong as we had hoped,” he said.

John Rossell, head of marketing and creative for AG, formerly a major exhibitor at Project, hasn’t appeared there since 2019 and won’t be back in February. Over the past two years, the brand has been working virtually to show customers new collections on Zoom enhanced by sample shipments – and it works well. “We’ve found something that works for us so there’s no need to go back now unless our audience comes back,” he said.

Rossell has admitted “zooming fatigue” has caused and “we look forward to the day when we can meet in person again.”

Arkun Dumaz, Mavi’s North America president, was one of the brands that showed off at The Project in August and will return in February, albeit “in a smaller way. We were OK because we did our homework: we made an appointment, and if you do, you can have a good gig.”

Even so, he believes regional shows in Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte and elsewhere are gaining ground.

Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans menswear stores, has long been a proponent of trade shows. Although he chose Chicago over Vegas in August, he plans to attend both next month.

“Trade shows will always be around. In our business, they are essential,” he said. “There is nothing better than seeing, feeling and trying on clothes. And we don’t have the bandwidth to go to 50 showrooms. ”

For him, he doesn’t think that the trade show model needs to evolve dramatically. “The problem is that there is too much supply in the trade show business and it needs to be reinforced with a reawakening of what retailers really need. They should worry a little less about the branding of the program and more about the effect of the experience on retailers. ”

https://wwd.com/menswear-news/mens-retail-business/what-to-watch-regional-trade-shows-gain-ground-as-national-events-seek-to-evolve-1235025496/ Regional Trade Shows Gain Ground as National Events Seek to Evolve – WWD

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