Think globally, act locally.
This story first appeared in the December 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It seems to be the mantra guiding organizers of New York trade shows as they head into the new year. For the first six months of 2012, many are stepping up their focus on growing the international facets of their shows by bringing in more exhibitors from overseas and attracting a larger segment of foreign buyers. The global approach not only intends to inject the shows with a new sense of creativity, but it also allows organizers and exhibitors to be less dependent on a single economy, which should prove a considerable boon given the ongoing economic malaise worldwide. Bearing this strategic approach in mind, many have a positive forecast for the first half of the year.
“We had a very successful run in 2011,” said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which produces FAME, Moda, AccessoriesTheShow and MRketNY. “It looks like the first half of 2012 will be continuation.”
“International attendance” is a strong focus, he added. Overall international attendance was up 24 percent this year over 2010, and Business Journals has been collaborating with other trade shows around the world to reach out to target international exhibitors and retailers. Jones noted that Canada and Japan top the list, followed by Mexico, and growing contingents from the Middle East and Western Europe.
“When you get to the essence of what a really good trade show experience is, it is about discovery and finding new resources that excite your customers and that you know will drive your sales,” Jones said. “The more international participation you have, the more you facilitate the process of discovery.”
At the MRketNY men’s wear show in January, Business Journals will present a “Made in Italy” group with about 51 booths and a U.K. group with some 40 booths. The show will also feature a Vanguard’s Gallery of new designers curated by former Saks Fifth Avenue executive Michael Macko, as well as a new section called Macko’s Picks with key trends and must-have items of the season.
ENK International, which produces the Fashion Coterie, Intermezzo Collections, Accessorie Circuit, Children’s Club, ENKNYC and Sole Commerce shows, is also stepping up its international focus. Timed to run with the Coterie show in February, ENK is launching the White New York @ Coterie exhibit, importing the Milan men’s and women’s fashion exhibition. It will make its debut at The Tunnel with more than 60 Italian brands Feb. 20 to 22.
For the first time, Coterie will also launch men’s brands at TMRW, it’s section for up-and-coming talent previously earmarked for women’s wear designers.
“We are seeing proof positive that all exhibitions
are growing,” said ENK founder and president Elyse Kroll. “ENK is not anticipating any new challenges or key issues.…That said, we will continue to monitor the economy and how retail sales will fare during the upcoming holidays.”
Ed Mandelbaum, who produces the Designers & Agents show with Barbara Kramer, agreed that an international mind-set is crucial in this climate.
“Our overall outlook is positive and it is coming off of how well our previous six months have done,” he said. “We also had a much higher percentage of international brands and buyers.”
He noted that it had much to do with the increased profile of D&A in Europe after recently launching a Paris edition of the show, as well as the continued strength of the euro against the dollar. The international contingent, Mandelbaum added, “continues to grow and I see that half the applications come in from outside of the U.S. There is more and more international interest.
D&A will continue to take place at the Starrett-Lehigh Building, and the second venue used during the February and September editions is relocating from the Chelsea Art Museum to Center548 at 548 West 22nd Street. “It’s about one-third bigger than the Chelsea Art museum,” Mandelbaum said. “It has three floors and a roof we can use in September.”
Meanwhile, Atelier Designers started adding more European collections since September, a trend that will continue through 2012.
“These collections enhance the texture and color of Atelier, and also increase the sophistication and choice offered at Atelier,” said Susan Summa, the show director of Atelier Designers, which takes place at the Doubletree Times Square hotel.
Many shows are also stepping up online efforts. Business Journals is launching mobile apps for its exhibitions starting this January market featuring exhibitor information, electronic look books and an ability for buyers to search the database by product categories, create shortlists and map exhibitors through a GPS digital features. The shows are also adding QR codes for exhibitors that allow owners of smartphones to download exhibitor details by scanning the code.
“It will make our shows easier to research ahead of time and for retailers to plan their time ahead of the shows,” Jones at Business Journals said.
Other New York shows include Nouveau Collective, which has three editions scheduled in the first half of next year. The show will unveil its collaboration with Weconnectfashion, an online forum to bring together retailers and vendors, next year, according to Joanne Feinstein, show director of Nouveau Collective.
In addition, Curve Expo, the lingerie and swimwear show with editions in New York and Las Vegas in February, is also adding new initiatives to entice retailers.
“Buyers will be able to book appointments online via the CURVExpo Online Appointment Facilitator on curvexpo.com,” said Laurence Teinturier, executive vice president of Curve Expo. “After reviewing the fall-winter 2012 collections of a brand, retailers will have the opportunity at each appointment to drop their business card in a brand’s ‘raffle box.’ They will then have a chance at winning $1,000 [retail] worth of merchandise of that brand and one of 10 iPad2s. Each iPad2 will be uploaded with all participating vendors’ contact information and line sheets.”
As for key challenges, Teinturier said, “Today’s consumer needs a product with real content: a solution product, a product that makes them feel confident and comfortable, and of course, a product with the right price positioning.”
Major textile shows are also on tap for the beginning of the new year. Kicking off the festivities will be Première Vision Preview New York, featuring European fabric firms showcasing their spring-summer 2013 collections on Jan. 10 and 11 at the Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building on West 18th Street.
The following week, Texworld USA calls the Jacob K. Javits Convention center home for three days beginning Jan. 16. The largest sourcing event in North America encompasses a wide range of textile companies and sourcing specialists with a focus on the U.S., Canada and Asia, and includes the Apparel Sourcing Pavilion featuring producers offering finished garments, contract manufacturing and private label development.
Also running Jan. 17 and 18 is Kingpins, the denim fabric boutique sourcing show at the Center548 venue, where the Continuum show, dedicated to sustainability, will bow concurrently.