By  on March 3, 2008

The uncertain economy, cautious retailers with slimmer budgets and two competing trade shows created an unsettling environment at last month's New York market.

The precarious climate permeated the month's activities that kicked off with the official Feb. 4 lingerie market at Madison Avenue showrooms, included the CurveNY trade fair at Penn Plaza Pavilion — organizers said the show pulled in 1,190 visitors — and culminated with the three-day Lingerie Americas New York show at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building, which closed last Tuesday. Lingerie Americas officials said attendance reached 2,415.

As a result, the market was splintered into two camps: retailers and vendors who stayed the course with the market week set by the Intimate Apparel Council and others who hedged their bets on a later venue in Manhattan. The first half of the month offered several additional perks for specialty merchants expanding into other categories: the hype and media blitz of New York Fashion Week, accessories and ready-to-wear fairs such as Designers & Agents and Fashion Coterie, as well as a home accessories show.

Regarding the market dilemma, Patrice Argain, chief executive officer of Lingerie Americas Inc., said his show, which has been running in New York since 2002, has had conflicts with other trade fairs before. Former competitors included the Intimate Apparel Salon, which was acquired by trade show giant Messe Frankfurt in 2002, and Intima America, also owned by Messe Frankfurt, which was discontinued in 2005.

"We've had challenging times in the past with Carol Bigman and her Intimate Apparel Salon, and then the Messe Frankfurt show," Argain said. "Now we have Curve. It's absolutely a challenging time, because it's not easy to have two different dates between market week and late February. But we are following the wishes of our buyers."

Jean-Luc Teinturier, president and ceo of CurveExpo Inc., said, "We are here to unite the market, not divide it. That's one of the reasons we joined forces with Samantha Chang [Curve partnered with Lingerie Boutique by Samantha Chang for biannual fairs in Las Vegas and New York]. We wanted to be consistent with market week. It's unfortunate that Lingerie Americas didn't stick to the market week for the first time."

The pace of the New York market was also impacted by the presence of two lingerie fairs in Las Vegas — CurveNV at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Lingerie Americas at WWDMAGIC — both staged during the crucial Valentine's Day selling period when specialty retailers want to be in their stores to monitor business during one of the biggest lingerie gift-giving holidays of the year.

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