Through good and bad economic times, Christopher Griffin has risen through the ranks at Advanstar Global, and now has been named president of WWDMAGIC and Sourcing at MAGIC.
This story first appeared in the February 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After selling his juniors sportswear line Chica in 2006, Griffin started at Advanstar in 2007 and filled sales manager, show director and vice president posts before ascending to his new position. When the Great Recession hit, Griffin heard plenty of predictions that trade shows were headed into extinction, but he emphasized they’ve weathered the financial storm and are poised to make further strides as operators blend the traditional strengths of trade shows with advances focused on technology, social media and meeting the current needs of shoppers.
“Our attendance is up on both sides, brands and buyers,” he said. “If you look at the competitive landscape in Las Vegas, there are more trade shows now than ever. So, apparently the market has decided that trade shows aren’t going anywhere soon.”
Griffin’s task is to make sure that Sourcing at MAGIC and WWDMAGIC are among those trade shows that aren’t going anywhere. He said, “There is no reason why Sourcing can’t be sexy. Everything starts on the sourcing side, we’d have nothing without it and, if you go to Première Vision in Paris, you see an amazing array of fabrics, trims, prints and factories as well. We are not going to be Première Vision, but we have our own strong points. At the show, coming from the fashion side, I think there are things I can incorporate.”
Griffin singled out the Third Wave social media lounge and the Town Hall chat at the upcoming edition of Sourcing with costume designers and wardrobe stylists, including Janie Bryant from “Mad Men,” Melanie Leftick from “American Idol,” Audrey Fisher from “True Blood,” Jill Ohanneson from “Revenge” and Robin Gurney from “The Price Is Right,” as an examples of the kinds of initiatives he’d like to see more of.
As the resources for women’s apparel across Advanstar’s trade show portfolio have expanded, Griffin said the challenge at WWDMAGIC is to ease navigation for buyers so they can find the brands they want and do business. “Exhibitors come to the show because they want orders written and as long as we keep on our eyes on that, I think we will be in good shape for another 80 years,” he said.