Hillary France

Brand Assembly and Alkeon, an e-commerce platform for trade shows and showrooms, have teamed up for the first U.S. women’s contemporary collaboration to digitize Brand Assembly’s trade shows.

The first one will be a three-day event showcasing resort 2021, which takes place online from June 15 through 17.

Normally the June show would have taken place in Los Angeles, but they were forced to cancel the physical resort 2021 show due to the uncertainty around COVID-19 and government restrictions around large gatherings.

Brand Assembly hosts three trade shows each season: Brand Assembly Show, Reassembled Show and BA/lance, reaching a network of more than 500 brands and 1,000 buyers.

According to Hillary France, co-founder and chief executive officer, “Brand Assembly’s goal has always been to support emerging brands, and it is important now more than ever to connect brands to our network of retailers. Alkeon’s platform has given us the opportunity to fully digitize our resort 2021 trade show, and offer this virtual experience as a complement to our physical events moving forward, but all year-round. Their emphasis on brand discovery and community is closely aligned with ours.”

In addition to the virtual trade show, Brand Assembly will offer its community programming, co-created with Content, including virtual showroom walkthroughs, Sip ‘n Shares with designers, morning workouts, panels with industry insiders and workshops geared toward designers and buyers.

France said she plans to target about 80 to 100 brands to participate in the trade show. “It’s going to be a four-and-a-half week sprint to get all these brands on-boarded,” she said. She plans to reach out to brands that have participated in Brand Assembly’s physical trade shows in the past, such as Love Shack Fancy, Tanya Taylor and Monrow.

Asked how the virtual show will work, she said, “When we envisioned a digital platform, we wanted it to be mostly about discovery. The interface is almost like you’re shopping a web site as a consumer. Everything is searchable and categorized, like you would if you’re shopping for a black skirt. You’re being introduced to new brands, based upon the categories you want to be in your store. If you find a new brand, you will be able to, through this application, book a virtual appointment. We wanted the whole transaction to happen through this application.”

But retailers won’t be able to do the actual buying on the site. “They can like, and make collections and assortments, but they wouldn’t be able to physically transact through the web site, but that will be ready by the September trade show. They’ll put it on their own spreadsheet or use the order from the brand and submit it that way,” she said.

As far as the cost to vendors, the company said there will a BETA period for June/July and then there will be a low monthly subscription. The company deals with emerging brands for the Brand Assembly Show and Reasembled Show so they want to keep it accessible for everyone to be able to transact. The virtual event is free and open to anyone who wants to listen and participate.

France is targeting those retailers who come to her physical show, which are all the majors and large specialty stores such as Intermix and online retailers like Shopbop. She also caters to a range of specialty stores that attend Brand Assembly and Reassembled Shows.

In late March, the CFDA canceled the official NYFW: Resort 2021 schedule of presentations. That decision was based on the global situation, the ongoing uncertainty regarding its impact on retailers and their open-to-buys and designers’ challenges in producing collections at this moment. The CFDA strongly recommended and urged designers not to show their resort spring 2021 collections.

When asked about designers featuring resort 2021 at the Brand Assembly trade show, France said, “I feel like resort as  a name is misleading. People still need to deliver product. It’s whatever new product they have to deliver from October through December deliveries. A lot of our brands do call it resort, some call it holiday, and some say “buy-now-wear-now.” It’s really just new deliveries.” She said some will even offer immediate merchandise, as well as new collections.

By the end of the week, the registration process and submission will begin. It will be a closed portal.

Brand Assembly’s partnership with Alkeon will be a permanent virtual edition to the show organizer’s offerings, with the assortment of brands being updated throughout the coming seasons.

“We are honored to partner with Brand Assembly to provide a white-label digital extension to their roster of contemporary women’s fashion brands in the U.S. and help them prosper all year, especially during these challenging times,” said Jean-Christophe Chopin, founder and ceo of Alkeon Creators Ltd. “We believe that Brand Assembly’s trade shows, which have worked hard in their curation, atmosphere, discover and connectivity, will take advantage of our unique solution which supports and amplifies orders.”

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