CHICAGO — Chicago’s upcoming editions of Stylemax, the Midwest’s largest women’s apparel and accessories market, will focus on the bustling contemporary market.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.



In August, organizers plan to unveil “Contemporary in Chicago,” a new section devoted to hundreds of contemporary lines that offer men’s and women’s fashions.


“That’s really our push for August,” said Susan McCullough, senior vice president of apparel for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., which operates the show. “We haven’t combined [men’s and women’s] resources before.”


The move hopes to unite buyers in town for Stylemax, which runs Aug. 6 to 8 on the seventh floor of the city’s Merchandise Mart, with retailers shopping the Chicago Collective, the growing men’s apparel market set for Aug. 7 to 9 on the Mart’s eighth floor.


The August Stylemax will feature some 4,000 holiday, resort and early spring resources spanning 100,000 square feet, and Chicago Collective is expected to grow by about 25 percent, highlighting 330 exhibitors showing more than 1,000 lines.


“We’re seeing more and more new stores carrying both men and women’s clothes,” McCullough said, noting that market organizers have stepped up marketing efforts, via mail and e-mail, to tout the combined contemporary section. In the past, women’s contemporary resources were housed under the name Pure Contemporary and men’s were grouped in a section on the eighth floor called Level 8.


Contemporary will be a key component to the October Stylemax, as well. Organizers are trying to grow their collection of higher-end contemporary lines and group those resources including Adam Lippes, BCBG and Rebecca Minkoff together.


“It’s like building a neighborhood,” McCullough said of her efforts to consolidate the more expensive contemporary lines at the Spring market, which is set to run Oct. 22 to 25 on the Mart’s seventh floor.


Both future Stylemax markets will contain a children’s apparel section called Kidz at Stylemax, which is set to feature more European lines. The August Stylemax also will possess a portion designated to prom and special occasion lines called the National Prom Market, which will involve a prom fashion show and related events.


One month later, the National Bridal Market Chicago, which organizers claim is the nation’s largest and longest-running bridal market, will return to the Mart on Sept. 24 to 27. The trade show highlights designer and moderate bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, prom gowns, quinceañera dresses, accessories and other special-occasion resources. Highlights of the market include prom and bridal fashion shows, business seminars and the industry DEBI awards will be presented at the Field Museum.


Nominees for better-designer wedding gowns include Enzoani, Paloma Blanca, Pronovias and Watters. Other bridal gown nominees are Allure Bridals, Casablanca, Maggie Sottero and Mori Lee. Bridesmaid, flower girl, special occasion, prom, quinceañera, headpiece and footwear winners will also be recognized.

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