Buyers are gearing up to descend upon Manhattan for a handful of shows offering wares that span the style spectrum.The New York trade show circuit, staged largely on Manhattan’s West Side, is about to kick into high gear. While retailers and apparel makers talk of an economic turnaround, trade show organizers are aiming to make their shows must-visits for retailers. Organizers such as Business Journals Inc., ENK, Advanstar Communications and Workshop NY all said that making shows more convenient for buyers — through scheduling and vendor assortment — was essential in achieving a successful turnout. "Attendance will reflect the health of the industry," said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc. "Buyers are still coming, but they are being more selective and they are buying more often and being careful."Elyse Kroll, executive director of ENK International, which runs the Fashion Coterie, Intermezzo and Sole Commerce shows, said while the economy has not yet fully bounced back, business is looking up."Every show we had in 2002 was good," she said. "I read the papers and know that we have not recovered from the recession, but when it comes to fashion, we can’t wait for a recession to end. We have to constantly provide new or there is no business to be had. This industry demands change."With that in mind, Kroll highlighted the Fashion Coterie — slated for Feb. 23-25 at the Show Piers on Manhattan’s West Side — as a "laboratory of things to come." The show spans the fashion spectrum, featuring contemporary, better, ready-to-wear and accessories vendors.Kroll stressed the importance of making Coterie easier to attend for retailers by offering an array of new services. There will be Internet access at the show to allow buyers the opportunity throughout their trip to check e-mail, and trade show attendees will once again enjoy a new look that was introduced at the last installment. Kroll said this new look is more contemporary and clean-looking than in the past. ENK decided to move away from its traditional black and white signage and toward a white and silver look, with a lively burst of orange. Kroll said this new look was well received from retailers and manufacturers and ENK plans to continue it at the next show.In addition, Kroll said a new tea bar has been added so that buyers can take a relaxing break with a cup of tea."It’s a great way for them to take a break from all the meetings," she said. "What’s better than a warm cup of tea served to you by a great-looking waiter?"While the country still lives with constant terror threats, Kroll said she is sure that people will continue to travel to the city for trade shows."Trade shows are always important," she said. "They are important in a good economy and a poor economy, but we need trade shows more than ever right now. Manufacturers need to have a presence in a poor economy in order to stay in business." Coterie’s sibling, Intermezzo, runs Jan. 12-14 at the Show Piers. Intermezzo primarily draws moderate, better and contemporary exhibitors.Business Journals produces Moda Manhattan and AccessoriesTheShow, slated to run simultaneously Jan. 5-6 and May 4-6. Business Journals also produces FAME, which is slated for March 16-18. The shows will be staged at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side.Drawing roughly a total of 8,000 buyers, Moda Manhattan and AccessoriesTheShow will have 30 percent more exhibitors than last year, Jones said. FAME, meanwhile, attracts about 6,000 buyers, he said. FAME focuses on the moderate sportswear market, while Moda is geared toward the better market. Jones said it is important to distinguish the two markets in different venues. "We find it’s not necessarily good to mix moderate and better together as they really appeal to different buyers and it’s a disservice to combine the shows," he said. "The more focused you can make your shows, the better it is for the buyers and that’s our philosophy." Running concurrently at the same location with Moda Manhattan and AccessoriesTheShow is Femme, running Jan. 5-7 produced by Advanstar Communications. Marilyn Harrington, the new general manager for Advanstar’s East Coast Fashion Group, said, "I hope to continue the success we’ve had and grow on it by expanding. We’re looking at enhancing the educational and seminar opportunties and looking at additional special events to take place on the floor, making it a true fashion event."Harrington said she wants to steer Femme into a position where it is the "premier marketplace for junior, denim, young contemporary, streetwear, accessories and casual lifestyle."She added, "This is where we really see the niche in the marketplace and growth potential. We want to create a show floor that can be easily navigated with easily delineated areas. This will ensure that the buyers can shop in a fashion that maximizes their time and effort."Meanwhile, Workshop NY’s sixth edition will be staged Feb. 22-24 at The Metropolitan Pavilion, in the West Side Manhattan nabe of Chelsea. The show has been scheduled during a three-day period, instead of four, with extended evening hours on its opening day to accommodate buyers who work late into the day. This time, the show will feature all of its exhibitors on one level, spread over 17,000 square feet. A show spokeswoman said Workshop NY will continue to provide shuttle buses from Pier 97, where other trade shows are held during the same time frame. The extended hours, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on opening day, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the remaining two days, should be helpful, said president Sara Tenot. "We believe that buyers who are extremely busy during market week will appreciate later access to designers," she said. Over at Designers & Agents, running Feb. 24-26, the venue is still being decided, co-producer Ed Mandelbaum said. But it will have the same aesthetic as previous editions: open and airy, bright and cheery. "We only had 50 booths for the first show in New York and 80 or so people. So maybe we’ll be up 75 booths and probably 125 companies," Mandelbaum said. "It will still be a small show. We go by how much great product we vote in and that kind of rules the assortment. As we find good product, we grow, but we are not enlarging for the sake of enlarging. It’s an intimate and friendly place where retailers can come and find like-minded people that stand for a certain segment of the market. Our job is to preselect an interesting group."The first D&A show in New York drew some 1,350 retailers, and Mandelbaum is expecting that number to double this time. D&A also produces five shows in Los Angeles and two in Tokyo. Eventually, he said the number of shows will also increase in New York. "We’ll expand as the demand grows," he said. "We always try to fill a need and part of our success is that we try and fill a need and align ourselves where the buyers are. We always try to make it easy for the retailers."
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