Byline: Nancy Brumback

Following the success of its first StyleMax women’s apparel trade show in October, the Chicago Merchandise Mart is planning an even larger event in March.
With the two StyleMax shows, in October and March, the mart is shifting from five showroom-based events for women’s apparel each year to the two trade show formats using the glass-fronted booths on the mart’s eighth floor, augmented by traditional showroom events in January, June and August.
October’s StyleMax “was an incredible success from both the buyer and manufacturer standpoints,” said Susan McCullough, vice president of leasing for Merchandise Mart Properties.
Buyer registrations increased “by 100 percent” over past October markets, she said, although the mart does not release specific attendance figures. The show, with some 3,000 lines represented, had twice as many manufacturers as showroom presentations. That show encompassed 88,000 square feet of booth space and the leased space is expected to increase in March.
The spring event, scheduled for March 17-20, is expected to attract even more vendors, she said.
“We’re seeing a number of new lines, plus lines that have not been in Chicago in 10 years,” she noted.
The March StyleMax will feature two fashion shows, a buyers’ reception on opening night and a selection of seminars on trends in retailing. The mart also will offer a complimentary breakfast and lunch, with shuttle service to downtown Chicago hotels.
There are no plans to cut back on the three Style Show women’s and children’s markets, held in the showrooms of the adjacent Chicago Apparel Center, McCullough said.
The Style Show exhibitions for 2001 are scheduled for Jan. 26-30, June 8-12 and Aug. 24-28. The fall StyleMax event is planned for Oct. 13-16. The mart also hosts two bridal shows a year in the apparel center.
The StyleMax shows “are being positioned for the greater Midwest: Ohio to Nebraska and Minneapolis to Kentucky, a 13-state area,” said McCullough, pointing out that represents “a huge trading area; there’s a lot of business to be done, and we wanted to get it back.”

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