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StyleMax combines its dates with men’s and special occasion shows.
This story first appeared in the June 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
CHICAGO — After successfully launching the concept last year, organizers of Chicago’s August StyleMax will continue to conduct the Midwest’s largest women’s apparel market alongside two other trade shows, the National Prom Market Chicago and Chicago Collective, a men’s apparel market. “With three shows in one, buyers are getting more for their trip dollars,” said Susan McCullough, senior vice president for apparel for Merchandise Mart Properties. McCullough noted that the most crossover occurs between the men’s and women’s markets in the contemporary category, given that more new specialty stores are catering to both male and female clientele. “That is what’s currently happening in retail,” McCullough said, “and it’s a trend that’s going to continue.”
Another trend in retail is the growing importance of accessories, which will be reflected by larger accessory components at both the August and October editions of StyleMax. “There’s a focus on accessories because that’s what’s selling,” she said. “It’s a way to update an outfit without spending a lot of money.” Market organizers, meanwhile, are reaching out to buyers and traveling to stores like never before. “We’re trying to be more buyer-centric,” McCullough said. “We’re taking a step back and reassessing. We’re really looking at everything we’re doing under the microscope.”
While “nothing revolutionary is planned,” McCullough said, “We want to be in a position for growth when the economy turns around.” In August, StyleMax, which boasts some 4,000 resources housed within 100,000 square feet, will run from Aug. 8 to 11 on the seventh floor of the city’s Merchandise Mart while the Chicago Collective, which features 300 exhibitors and 1,000 lines spanning 60,000 square feet, will take place Aug. 9 to 11 on the eighth floor. At the same time, the National Prom Market Chicago will encompass about 20,000
square feet of the seventh floor and maintain the same shopping dates and times as StyleMax.
McCullough predicts that prom and special occasion wear buyers will appreciate the opportunity to shop for extras such as jewelry, handbags and lingerie at StyleMax. In October, the Merchandise Mart will house the National Bridal Market, running Oct. 3 to 6. The trade show spans 100,000 square feet, spotlighting bridal gowns, prom dresses, special occasion wear, bridesmaid dresses, mother-of-the-bride dresses, flower girl dresses, shoes, veils, tiaras and quinceañera resources. Also in October, StyleMax will return with spring fashions and run on the Mart’s seventh floor from Oct. 24 to 27. All the markets feature a series of fashion shows and parties, as well as seminars and presentations designed to help buyers shop the show floor anbd identify the trends most relevant to their stores.