Lingerie Trade Show Issue Reaching Turning Point

Industry executives are expecting August to be the turning point in the battle between two lingerie trade shows: Lingerie Americas and Curve.

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Industry executives are expecting August to be the turning point in the battle between two lingerie trade shows: Lingerie Americas and Curve.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After a year and a half of juggling trade show locations and schedules, as well as jousting for more premium brands and greater retail attendance, many executives said they’ve had their fill of what is being called a “destructive” impact on the marketplace from the two combative fair organizations. The shows have been throwing the innerwear market into a tailspin since Curve was created in 2007 in Las Vegas and 2008 in New York, after the former show managers split from Lingerie Americas to form their own fair. Lingerie Americas became the only innerwear show in Manhattan in 2004 when trade show giant Messe Frankfurt discontinued Intima America.

Vendors and merchants, already reeling from the ongoing credit crunch, higher fuel prices for shipping and a dismal retail environment, said the dueling shows bring additional financial burdens. Some exhibitors have been showing at both fairs to gauge how each venue rates in terms of their profitability potential and exposure. Starting prices for a stand with a table and several chairs can cost as much as $8,000.

While August is essentially a rehash of foundations that were shown for spring selling in May, the market is expected to define the direction vendors and merchants will take in February. The February market, which was consolidated last year from the January and March editions into one venue, is far more comprehensive and features all innerwear categories, including sleepwear, at-homewear and robes.

Both shows in New York will be staged Aug. 3 to 5. Lingerie Americas will continue to be staged at the Altman Building and Metropolitan Pavilion, while CurveNY will be located at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In Las Vegas, both fairs will take place Aug. 25 to 27. Lingerie Americas Las Vegas at WWDMAGIC will be staged at the Las Vegas Hilton and CurveNV will be ensconced at the Venetian Resort Hotel.

Regarding the market turmoil, Laurence Teinturier, executive vice president of CurveExpo Inc., said, “We are doing everything in our power to open discussions and get an agreement to satisfy industry demand, and that is to have one lingerie show in the U.S., on both coasts in 2009.”

Patrice Argain, chief executive officer of Lingerie Americas, noted, “We understand the industry isn’t happy with the situation, but Lingerie Americas didn’t create it. Lingerie keeps doing what it does best and at the same time looks for ways to help buyers navigate today’s tough business climate.”

Vendors are looking for a resolution.

Gregory Gimble, vice president of Va Bien International, said, “It’s a real battle and I haven’t heard that one show will go away in August. It would be great to have one show, so all buyers could be in one place. It would be beneficial for everybody in February.”

Va Bien currently exhibits at Curve, but has shown at Lingerie Americas in the past.

Maria Scotto, president of her eponymous sleepwear collection, said, “I’ll continue with Lingerie Americas. Everybody is really hoping there will be some sort of merger. I quite frankly hope so because the two shows are destructive for everybody. The retailers are starting to become angry and maybe they won’t show up at either show.”

Gale Epstein, president and creative director of Hanky Panky, said, “I don’t think I could predict how the contest will play out. I will only say that it’s unfortunate for both the retailers and manufacturers that there are two conflicting shows. However, we have not experienced any negative effects on our business.”

Hanky Panky has exhibited at both fairs and will show at the Curve venue in August.

Guido Campello, vice president of marketing and innovation at Cosabella, said, “We’re staying with Curve because they’ve now tied in the [New York] show with Intermezzo and the ENK Accessories show. I find this intriguing and I think we’ll profit from the exposure.”

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