NEW YORK — Pool Tradeshow proved it could navigate in new waters during its first exhibition here last week.
The five-year-old Las Vegas event, which specializes in introducing young designers to the boutique market, attracted new buyers as well as those who have visited the Vegas show.
This was Pool’s first foray outside Las Vegas, where it has shown twice a year since beginning in 2001 as a T-shirt show. Pool has grown since then, adding full women’s and men’s apparel lines, shoes and accessories. Pool planners wanted to do a New York presentation for several years, and having its brother show, Project, also in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here, July 17-19, provided the infrastructure to “safely test the waters this year,” said Mindy Wiener, director of operations at Pool. Pool and Project are run by the same parent, EventStar.
The show here had about half the number of exhibitors of traditional Pool shows, “but the vibe is still the same,” Wiener said. There will be about 80 percent exhibitor crossover between New York’s July show and Vegas’ Aug. 28-30 event. Last week’s show also had more space dedicated to women — 45 percent, compared with 40 percent in Vegas. Pool plans to continue its presence here and hopes to add about 50 exhibitors next season.
Pool had its share of new developments. The show teamed with MySpace.com, the social network Web site, which launched its fashion page with a computer station at the show where designers could sign on to their MySpace home pages. Clear Magazine also did a soft launch of its handmade T-shirt line, which it is mass-producing for the first time. At Pool’s next show in Vegas, a new graphics look will be launched, courtesy of tokidoki, Japanese-style animation.
Wiener said she expected 6,000 to 8,000 buyers to visit the show. “We are getting a good response,” she said. “We have attracted a lot of new buyers and good specialty stores who hadn’t necessarily heard of Pool in Vegas.”
However, business was slower than some of the almost 200 exhibitors expected.
“Where are they [the buyers]?” asked Svetlana Dekic, a representative for exhibitor Inner Child, a California contemporary resource.
Sheila Sharma owns Pop, a boutique in Washington D.C., which just opened a second door in Brooklyn. She said she came to Pool with plans to do 15 percent of her season’s buying.
“I usually go to Vegas, but since Pool opened its show in New York, and I now have a store in New York,” Sharma said, “this is perfect. Pool would have been the main reason I went to Vegas, so now I no longer need to go.”
Sharma visited Soundgirl, an L.A. contemporary brand, where company representatives reported that although “traffic is kind of slow, we are getting steady orders and new accounts from all over — Virginia, D.C., New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island — ones that don’t make it to Vegas.”
Sarah Pollack, who does marketing for White Boy, a men’s line, said she was pleased with the number of meetings her brand set up with buyers, including a Federated representative. White Boy just launched a junior line to add to the company’s portfolio. “There’s been a lot of buyers, but I feel like because this is New York’s first year, it is not as busy as we are used to at Vegas,” Pollack said.
Sharma said at Pool she finds new, independent designers that other stores have not yet picked up.
Freddie Rojas, who has shown his women’s line at Pool twice, echoed that sentiment. “Pool has evolved, but it still has the young talent,” Rojas said. “The feeling here is of young designers — not corporate.”