The Roundtable is relaunching Thursday after a three-year hiatus.
This modern-day Roundtable brings together window dressers, store designers, stylists, mannequin makers, artists, academics and techies who are connected to the retail and fashion industry, particularly the visual merchandising side, and eager to meet or openly discuss what’s right or wrong with the business.
“It’s the gathering of interesting characters that makes the magic,” said Tom Beebe, a men’s wear consultant, who is spearheading the revival of The Roundtable, along with Dan Evans, president and creative director of Goldsmith, and Eric Feigenbaum, former head of the visual merchandising department at LIM.
It’s not to be confused with the famous Roundtable that brought together literary legends at the Algonquin Hotel during the Roaring Twenties though to some degree, the fashion industry version is modeled after it, in spirit and purpose — to learn and exchange ideas, network and foster camaraderie.
“Dorothy Parker would approve, and if she were around, would share a martini or two with us,” Beebe said.
The latter-day Roundtable originated in 2011, with Beebe and Feigenbaum lead organizers. It met at the Algonquin, first with nine individuals and grew to about 70 participating. It was sponsored at different times by VMSD Magazine, Goldsmith, Liberty of London, FRCH Design Worldwide, Godiva and others. However, after the Algonquin changed ownership, remodeled and raised costs associated with renting space and serving drinks and appetizers, by 2014, The Roundtable found itself without a venue and disbanded after 14 gatherings.
But on Thursday, the Roundtable returns, this time at the Goldsmith Penthouse showroom on the west side of Manhattan. It’s by invitation-only, there’s no fee, and The Roundtable is expected to meet every other month.
“It will be buzzing. There is so much going on in the market,” said Beebe, anticipating a strong turnout of people with a lot on their minds. He said the plan is to have Q&As with industry figures, though Thursday’s gathering will be more of a celebration of the return of The Roundtable. It’s also an opportunity for Goldsmith to showcase its rooftop penthouse. Goldsmith designs and manufactures mannequins, forms, furniture and fixtures. For the near future at least, Goldsmith will be the venue although, according to Beebe, others are also interested in sponsoring the group.
“We needed to rethink the focus and move it forward. A lot has changed,” Beebe said. “The cast of characters is changing with the times.”
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