Ath-leisure, goth-letic, activewear, trendy gym fare: there are just as many labels for today’s fastest-growing apparel category as there are places to get it. And now, there is even a new trade show in town that caters to the health-conscious Millennials’ needs.
Axis, an invitation-only show run by Reed Exhibitions under its already well-established Capsule umbrella, debuted in New York on Sunday with 166 registered vendors and more than 3,000 retailers expected to attend. Directed by Reed veteran Vanessa Chiu, Axis is intended to be a one-stop-shop for all components of an archetypal fash-active life. A multicategory event, the show’s exhibitors span the food, beauty, fashion, accessory and fitness product sectors. Place an order for some organic Chia seeds in one corner, yoga mats in another and pepper in some costume jewelry pieces, stretch-absorbent dresses and neon sneakers while perusing the middle.
“We call ourselves the new multidimensional trade event for the new generation,” Chiu said Monday of the Axis show, held at Pier 94 in the space behind Capsule, which was simultaneously in-progress.
But don’t write its ethos off as simply a passing fad. According to Chiu, “The active lifestyle is a big play for us and it’s not a trend for us, it’s quite literally a lifestyle.”
Walking through the show’s aisles, there were many apparel labels that aim to blur the lines between gym clothes and street garb. “They’re brands that were too specialty to be sitting at Coterie and then being lost, or too low a price point,” Chiu said of the exhibitors, who average around the $250 mark at retail.
Revel Wear, a fairly new brand and one of the few to be sought out by the Axis team to exhibit, was among them. The label’s Italian-milled polyester crepe jersey pants — outfitted with a drawstring, a louche drape and movement-friendly stretch — were created to span a girl’s day from morning workout to afternoon meeting.
Ditto for fellow young label Full Court, designed by Marguerite Wade, whose tennis-inspired dresses, tops and skirts serve both fashionable and functional purposes. All of the bottoms come equipped with a ball pocket for on-court hours, but possess the kind of restrained minimalism that trend-seekers shopping the brand’s stockists like Opening Ceremony and Urban Outfitters have come to appreciate.
When generally assessed, the show’s multiple rows of white exhibitors’ cubes — which Chiu had designed with “Danish modernism,” in mind — were something of a study in social media idyllics. The kind that conjures Instagram’s many fashion-conscious, gluten-free surfer-types that inspire a generation of twentysomethings to begin or cap their salaried days at the gym — and look good while doing it.
Perhaps best hitting its target audience with aplomb was screen-printed-goods label Private Party, whose booth was laden with ironic T-shirts meant to dive deep into Millennials’ hearts. One standout was a simple T-shirt that read “Justin Bobby” — referencing the bad-boy antihero of the much-beloved MTV reality show “The Hills.”
On-hand to help Chiu keep Axis on track is an advisory board or “Collective” of bloggers, jet-setting DJs, athletes, and fashion editors that contribute to the show’s creative direction. “They are girls that are really ambassadors, I call them authentic. They are the tastemakers of their industry,” Chiu said of the group. She clarified that members of the “Collective” do not receive monetary compensation for their participation, but rather work on “an exchange.”
Chiu says she has plans to eventually spin Axis into a multicity event, with an eye toward Los Angeles. In the meantime, the show is slated to be staged again in September for spring 2016 market.