Canadian trade show organizers are

anticipating strong participation during the second half of the year, compared with last year when the SARS scare hung over the economy like a dark cloud, resulting in a number of cancellations, particularly in Toronto.

The season kicks off Aug. 8-10 with the Mode Accessories Show at the Doubletree International Plaza Hotel in Toronto. The twice-yearly Mode Accessories is Canada’s only trade show devoted to women’s fashion accessories, casual apparel and fashion items. Products exhibited by mostly Canadian companies range from umbrellas to sunglasses, hats, hair accessories, scarves, jewelry, watches, belts, handbags, shoes, hosiery, lingerie, casual apparel and beauty products.

A sister show was added this year in Calgary, Alberta, for the western market and was held in February, with another installment following June 13-14, at the Calgary Roundup Center.

With 227 exhibitors, Toronto’s Mode Accessories is sold out and there’s a waiting list to get in, according to show organizer Alice Chee, who added that she is looking for a larger venue.

“The problem is there are five [unrelated] shows happening at the same time in Toronto, so space is tight,” she explained.

There are a few American buyers among the estimated 3,600 attendees, and Chee is trying to attract more through direct mail and promotions, with limited success.

“There are so many U.S. shows that are bigger than ours,” she said.

The annual Montreal International Shoe and Accessories Fair, held Aug. 15-17 at Place Bonaventure, typically features 200 exhibitors and drew more than 2,500 visitors last year. This edition will combine the shoe and accessories fair with Expo Mode to give the event a higher profile, explained show organizer Michel Bibeau. It is also adding a designer pavilion featuring about 30 local designers.

“Although the focus is on Quebec designers,” Bibeau said, “there will also be designers from the U.S., Turkey, Italy and Brazil. We’re also trying to attract more American buyers through ads in trade publications.”

Montreal Fashion Week, from Sept. 6-9, will again be held at the Montreal Science Center in the Old Port. The program is only now being put together and few details are available, according to communications director Dominic Morency.The last staging of MFW in February took a different twist from past events by bringing together the major players on the local fashion scene to host a single event at the same time. Liason Mode Montreal, Market Week at the Centre International de Mode Montreal at 555 Chabanel Street and ExpoMode Montreal pooled their resources to present their fashions for fall/winter 2004. The Apparel Manufacturers Institute of Quebec also held a one-day supplier showcase at the Olympic Stadium as part of ExpoMode.

That format could be repeated in September, according to Morency. There has also been talk of combining MFW with Toronto Fashion Week to create a higher-profile event, but nothing has been confirmed.

Edmonton, Alberta, is home to the Trends Apparel Men’s Show and Alberta Fashion Market Ladies Show, which bill themselves as the biggest apparel shows in Canada, featuring men’s, women’s, children’s, sportswear, work wear, Western wear, footwear, designer denim, accessories, bridal wear and lingerie.

Trends debuted in September 2000 with more than 100 agents representing more than 450 manufacturers. The next Trends show is scheduled to take place Sept. 9-13 at the Northlands Agricom. Alberta Fashion Market also takes place Sept. 9-13 at the Northlands Agricom and Oct. 29-31 at the Mayfield Trade Center.

The combined show registration of agents for the two shows is more than 225, and the combined retailer attendance, from Vancouver Island to northern Ontario, is expected to be 900 stores.

“This show has become a huge success as it is the only show of its size under one roof in western Canada,” explained show organizer Susan Brochu.

The Ontario Fashion Exhibitors Market, meanwhile, is being held at the Toronto Congress Center Sept. 19-22, and has booked more than 165 exhibitors who have taken 600 booths in the 140,000-square-foot hall, according to show organizer Serge Macheli, who is crossing his fingers that another disaster like last year’s SARS outbreak will not occur.

“It’s always a concern when you have so much at stake,” he said. “But we’re expecting about 2,000 visitors, mostly from Ontario and the Maritimes and a few Americans from border states.”Toronto Fashion Week is gearing up for another strong event Sept. 20-25, following a successful show in March at the Liberty Grand, which attracted more than 8,000 participants, including more than 300 media representatives and 70 designers. Major designers include Liday Baday, Dominic Bellissimo, Hilary Radley and Yves-Jean Lacasse.

Although the site for the September edition hasn’t been decided, TFW organizer Robin Kay wants to expand the format by getting more manufacturers involved.

“I’m also trying to have every show sponsored so that I don’t have to charge designers a fee,” she said. “Some of them have a real problem coming up with the money.”

Montreal International Fashion Week wraps up the season on Sept. 27-29 at 555 Chabanel West, home to many of the city’s apparel manufacturers and importers.

Last year, there was an off-site collective and something similar is being considered for the next edition, according to organizer Eyal Cohen.

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