By  on January 14, 2008

The rivalry is intensifying between two key innerwear trade fairs, CurveExpo and Lingerie Americas.

Neither side is making a move to halt the competition, such as a possible merger or collaborative effort. As a result, the innerwear industry is feeling the impact, especially after the Intimate Apparel Council consolidated the January and March markets this year into one venue in February. The market change left some vendors and specialty stores undecided about which seasonal market and trade show they should attend to optimize budgets, time and travel schedules.

Compounding the issue is the timing of the two shows, which leaves a number of vendors and merchants in a lurch, particularly specialty retailers. The CurveNY edition will be held Feb. 3 to 5 at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in Manhattan, during the official New York innerwear market week. Lingerie Americas will take place Feb. 24 to 26 at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building, also in New York.

Kay-Lin Richardson, national sales manager of Panache Lingerie Ltd., a British bra specialist with a U.S. division, said, "We'll be showing at both the Lingerie Americas and Curve shows. We feel strongly that we have customers at both shows and we don't want to miss those customers. Of course, it's frustrating and it all adds another level of stress. But we are waiting until the dust settles and then we'll decide who we'll go with in August."

Justin Chernoff, chief executive officer of Rago Inc., a shapewear company in Queens, N.Y., said, "We decided to do Curve because it's during market week and we feel it's a better time to exhibit. It's a more advantageous time to do the show because major stores, as well as specialty stores, will come in."

Bob Vitale, vice president of sales and merchandising at Wacoal America, said, "In New York, we will be at Lingerie Americas. The main reason for that is as we polled our specialty stores, it seemed like more of them will be at the Lingerie Americas show. While some will be coming in during market week for the Curve show, we'll have the opportunity to see them at our showroom."

Meanwhile, the independent fairs are vying for exhibitors and retailers at New York and Las Vegas venues in February and August. As a result, they have broadened strategies to attract more brands and visitors, and have formed partnerships with different trade show experts: Lingerie Americas has teamed with MAGIC International in Las Vegas, where Lingerie Americas will be showcased within the WWDMAGIC women's apparel sector. CurveExpo will expand its partnership with a designer specialist format, Boutique Lingerie by Samantha Chang, to include biannual shows in Las Vegas and New York.The additions will offer visitors more options and require more decisions regarding their destination of choice.

Lingerie Americas at WWDMAGIC is scheduled for Feb. 12 to 15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Hilton Hotel, and Aug. 3 to 5 in New York at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building. The Lingerie Americas venues in New York will be independent of MAGIC. The dates for an August edition of Lingerie Americas at WWDMAGIC have not been set, said Patrice Argain, ceo of Lingerie Americas Inc.

The CurveNV fairs will be Feb. 14 to 16 and Aug. 25 to 27 at The Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. The Aug. 3 to 5 edition of CurveNY will be staged at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in Manhattan.

Although a majority of industry executives hope a cooperative venture of the two shows will take place, it doesn't appear to be on the radar.

"It's a free market,'' Argain said. "If Curve wants to do their own show, we can't stop them from doing it. Merging for merging's sake doesn't mean a thing if we don't agree on dates and locations. MAGIC was interested in us because they felt we could provide a larger [lingerie] offering to buyers. Many [apparel] buyers want to include lingerie in their buys."

He said retailers requested that Lingerie Americas in Las Vegas show at the same time as MAGIC in February "because it would be a desert there doing a show before or after fashion week and MAGIC. Retailers said it has to take place during MAGIC."

Laurence Teinturier, executive vice president of one-year-old CurveExpo Inc., said, "What will be happening in February 2008 shows a clear direction we are taking by raising the standard and adding a great, balanced offering of leading brands with the Lingerie Boutique designers. We want to unite the market by sticking to market weeks and open CurveNV doors on Feb. 14 to accommodate buyers who remain busy with Valentine's Day business until Feb. 13, and closing its doors on Feb. 16 to give buyers one more day to plan their fall-winter purchases. We also have the exclusivity of The Venetian Resort Hotel."Regarding the New York format, Teinturier said the roster of events will include directional forecasting trend seminars by Carlin International and the Best of Intima, an Italian lingerie magazine.

"It will be a tool for buyers," Teinturier said. "Mayouri Sengchanh of Carlin will present the 2008 fall-winter trends on Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. This overview is intended to help buyers make informed purchasing decisions. And Francesca Spinetta of Best of Intima will report on the world's best and most original store concepts, and offer new merchandising ideas and inspiration for independent store owners."

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