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Markets Primed for Second-Half Flurry

Domestic trade show organizers see better prospects on the horizon.

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As buyers plot out their travel plans to the major markets over the next few months, trade shows and regional mart organizers are spiffing up their venues and adding fresh accoutrements to make buyers more comfortable and in the mood to write orders.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The New York trade show circuit eagerly anticipates the run of fairs and exhibitions planned for the second half. While most show producers conceded that business continues to be difficult, they’re doing everything in their power to lift the spirits of buyers with creative new methods.

Elyse Kroll, founder and chairman of ENK International, said she is confident that there will be increases in traffic based on the uptick in the first half. But, she added, “We have to watch very carefully what happens to retail.…One day the stock market is good and one day it’s not. Fashion is one of those industries that changes and we need new merchandise or stores won’t be in business.”

For the first time, Coterie is introducing a special area devoted to emerging Japanese talent. They will be adjacent to the TMRW show of new designers.

RELATED STORY: Fabric Prices Stable, but Economy Unsteady >>

Designers & Agents is launching D&A Man at Cedar Lake, in West Chelsea’s art district, next month. Timed with the New York men’s market, it will feature 40 hand-selected brands.

“The beginning of 2012 received a positive response from both attendees and participants — we expect the second half of the year to continue on this path,” said Ed Mandelbaum, who produces D&A with Barbara Kramer, adding that the momentum is based in part to the increased number of international buyers at the show.

Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., said, “We’re looking at our shows right now and they will all be up in terms on net square footage, and we have had an increase in attendance for all the shows so far this year. As the economy is in worse shape in other parts of the world than in the U.S., we are starting to see more interest in our shows.”

Business Journals is also stepping up its roster of international exhibitors and putting more weight behind its app that allows visitors to navigate the shows more effectively. Those who get the app for the MRketNY men’s show will be entitled to a free beer at the show, while those who do it for the women’s shows can get a free cupcake.

Several shows are on the move this season. Capsule will stage its men’s and women’s shows at Basketball City at Pier 36 at South Street for the first time.

“Our goal for the next six months is to continue to improve the experience of the show, while maintaining a small, intimate vibe,” said Edina Sultanik Silver, a co-owner of Capsule with Deirdre Maloney and Minya Quirk. “We have invested in new state-of-the-art event spaces in every city.”

Nouveau Collective is also relocating to a new space on West 37th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue and will stage a runway show and offer an outdoor cafe area this season.

RELATED STORY: Domestic Trade Show Calendar >>

For the September edition of the shows, organizers had to shift dates slightly so they wouldn’t clash with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which takes place Sept. 16 to 18. ENK’s Coterie, Sole Commerce and TMRW shows, which started on a Sunday last year, will kick off their three-day run on Wednesday, Sept. 19, as will the September editions of Nouveau Collective, Atelier Designers, Moda Manhattan, AccessoriesTheShow Pavilion and Fame. D&A and Capsule also shifted their dates and will both start on Sept. 18.

The usual run of textile and sourcing shows are set for New York next month. Première Vision Preview kicks things off with a two-day run on July 11 at the Metropolitan Pavilion and Altman Building on West 18th Street featuring high-end European fabrics. Spin Expo takes over the same venue for three days, July 16 to 18, with a global array of yarn firms. Texworld USA and the Apparel Sourcing Show then come together at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center July 24 to 26 with a range of fabric firms, sourcing companies and manufacturers from around the globe, from the U.S. to China.

Las Vegas trade shows are going big this August. After struggling to bring vendors and buyers to the shows in recent years as tough economic realities shrank travel budgets, organizers of Las Vegas trade shows are predicting a return to prerecession attendance levels.

Judging by the pre-registration figures, Tom Florio, ceo at Advanstar Fashion Group overseeing MAGIC and Project, forecast attendance at MAGIC could set a five-year record. WWD MAGIC is Aug. 20 to 23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Project is Aug. 20 to 22 at Mandalay Bay.

“When we look at MAGIC as a whole in terms of attendance, we are seeing over 2,000 new buyers come to the show,” he said. “We are seeing luxury brands moving to relationships with discounters, and we are seeing discounters taking the leadership position of identifying cool boutique brands,” he said, adding that for those interested in high-low matchups, “There is a huge amount of good product that is reasonably priced…MAGIC is the epicenter of that. The MAGIC marketplace has a broad group of brands.”

Jones of Business Journals forecast bigger crowds and more booths for Moda Las Vegas, AccessoriesTheShow and MRketLV will have bigger crowds and more booths than last year. He said Moda Las Vegas would boost its exhibitor count by 37 percent and AccessoriesTheShow’s would climb at least 15 percent.

Ed Several, senior vice president of PGA Golf Exhibitions, estimated the PGA Expo at The Venetian from Aug. 20 to 22 would have roughly 300 exhibitors and 6,000 attendees. “We are running 10 percent ahead in terms of numbers of companies and size of the show,” he said.

The OffPrice Show, which begins a day earlier than most Las Vegas trade shows and will run from Aug. 19 to 22 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, is anticipating 525 exhibitors and 9,000 to 9,500 buyers, according to ceo Stephen Krogulski. Jeff Yunis, owner of Women’s Wear in Nevada, held at the Rio Las Vegas from Aug. 20 to 23, estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 attendees and 200 brands would participate.

The trade show shuffle continues in Los Angeles amid escalating competition from rival expos in the local market, as well as Las Vegas and New York.

After Designers & Agents canceled its August trade show in Los Angeles due to dwindling demand, the California Market Center, Cooper Design Space, New Mart, Lady Liberty Building and Gerry Building all moved the dates for their four-day markets to start a week later on Aug. 13. Alyson Bender, who handles marketing and public relations for the California Market Center, said the shift resulted after “each building was receiving enough complaints that [the August edition] was conflicting with Intermezzo in New York.” The August market, which will highlight holiday and resort collections, will now start a week before MAGIC Marketplace kicks off in Las Vegas.

One way to do that is through the mix of exhibitors. Some new brands that the California Market Center has signed include Ella Moss, Crowned Bird at its Focus event and Blue Pearl by Allen Schwartz in the contemporary-centric Select show. For its Los Angeles International Textile Show, which changed its dates to Oct. 22 to 24 from Oct. 8 to 10, it’s attracting mills from China, Brazil, Turkey and Mexico while at the same time continuing its relationships with textile and trade organizations in South Korea and Guatemala.

Meanwhile, social occasion, including prom, bridal and special occasion, is taking center stage at AmericasMart. Already home to the largest prom market in the U.S., the Mart is expanding to a second floor in its Atlanta Apparel Mart building in time for the Aug. 9 to 13 show, representing a 40,000-square-foot expansion and making the Mart even more important to buyers of prom.

Also, the Mart is adding a show dedicated to prom, bridal and special occasion called Vow, to be held Sept. 20 to 22.

“The social occasion business continues to be among the most robust segments in the apparel industry, as indicated by the strength of our past few August markets,” said Kisner. “Our showrooms need adequate space to show their extensive line selection on runways.”

At the Dallas Market Center and Fashion Industry Gallery, the aim is for quality of buyers and vendors.
“We’re targeting top retailers,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the DMC. “We’re not just focused on the numbers, but on the quality issue, as well.”

International attendance from Mexico, Canada and other nations has increased, she said, and 15 countries were represented at the June show. Morris also feels traffic is up because the DMC has significantly expanded its array of accessories, footwear and contemporary resources.

FIG, which concentrates on contemporary and bridge goods, is intensifying buyer recruitment with the promotion of Megan Bullard to retail development and marketing manager. FIG edits its mix to appeal to top fashion retailers, noted Emma Greathouse, director.

“Being a boutique-style market, our founding principles dictate quality over quantity,” she said. “We will continue to seek out the best lines in the industry, whether they are just starting out or seasoned veterans who have never exhibited in Dallas.”

Buyers traveling to Chicago for upcoming editions of Stylemax will encounter new options with some 80 apparel and gift showrooms now housed just above the trade show in the city’s Merchandise Mart.

“It adds another dimension,” said Susan McCullough, senior vice president for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. “It’s like a whole new beginning (for the showrooms). Everything will be crisp, clean and new.”

In August, women’s and men’s retailers will take to the Mart for Stylemax and for the Chicago Collective, running simultaneously for the first time. “We’re seeing more and more new stores carrying both men and women’s clothes,” McCullough said.

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