NEW YORK — For the first time in its 15-year history, American + International Designers is breaking free of the hotel-based format in favor of a more contemporary arena.

The next show will be Sept. 17-19 at the Loft Eleven/Penthouse 15 at 336 West 37th Street. The past two shows were based at the Swissotel New York the Drake. During the previous decade the event was at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Seeking to convey an updated image, American + International Designers has abbreviated its name to A+ID. A+ID director and owner Jean Sweet began scouting alternatives after learning that the Swissotel property was about to undergo major renovations.

Lining up trade shows is no longer a top priority for hotels like the Plaza, which are converting some, if not all, of their floors to condos or other forms of long-term housing, Sweet said.

“Trade shows are not as desirable as they once were,” she said. “Many of the hotels are in flux.”

The Waldorf posed another problem for the A+ ID because United Nations dignitaries often stay there, taking many of the suites, Sweet said. In addition, security requirements made it more difficult for buyers and exhibitors to get in and out of the show.

The Waldorf, like many other hotels, also converted storage spaces — essential for trade show organizers — into additional rooms, Sweet said.

From a buyer’s perspective, having exhibitors set up in individual suites and rooms can be intimidating. “It’s harder to exit a room than it is in an open space,” Sweet said. “I also didn’t like the idea of scattering the designers on a floor [as hotel shows do].”

The show will still be held twice a year, generally beginning on the Sunday after 7th on Sixth closes at Bryant Park. Mother-of-the-bride and conservative eveningwear — two staples — will still be offered, but more cocktail dresses and sportswear are being added to the September event. Alan Del Rosario, Chanis and Amy Michelson are some of the resources that have been approved for the juried show. There will be about 30 different labels from which buyers can choose.

This story first appeared in the July 18, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“My goal is to mix in young new talent and to bring them along with very established labels,” Sweet said. “We have independent, innovative designers who usually aren’t backed by big money. Most of our exhibitors own their own companies.”

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