NEW YORK — The upcoming men’s trade shows in New York have a sold-out roster of vendors and several new services for attendees, but organizers said buyers will likely shop conservatively in the face of an uncertain economic outlook.
This story first appeared in the June 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I think this is one of those moments where if you don’t have something different and exciting to sell it isn’t going to happen for you,” said Elyse Kroll, chairman of ENK International. “Luxury is doing well and mass market is still doing well, but for the brands in between there’s cause for worry. Prices are going higher because of cotton, margins are going to be lower and people are being careful.”
However, that could be a boon for trade shows, she noted.
“I think this is a good time for the trade show business because trade shows are efficient,” Kroll said. “Do you want to send your sales people on the road when gas is $5 a gallon or do you want to have all your appointments under one roof?”
The ENK NYC show from July 17 to 19 at The Tunnel/La Venue will host about 240 brands, a similar number from the previous season. About 25 brands will be in the Tmrw section, which showcases new and emerging designers. Among those are Sid Neigum, Roark, Liber New York, Insubordinate Lads and Thom Krom.
“If you go back to the roots of ENK and our very first show, we always supported emerging talent and helped subsidize young new designers who needed help,” said Kroll.
Brands are allowed to participate in Tmrw for up to one year and pay a reduced fee for the show.
A number of new South Korean brands will show at ENK NYC, including Gear3 by Saen, Jehee Sheen, Tee Library, Vandalist by Vandal and Gene Per Yukio Mishiba.
At the Project show, also from July 17 to 19, a new initiative called Made by Project will have 10 artisanal labels produce product on site to give buyers a look at the manufacturing process. Among those participating are Hartford Denim Co., Etwas bags, Joya candles, Bowery Lane Bicycles and Silva Ltd, which makes computer and iPad cases from solid sheets of bamboo with hand-cut leather straps.
“They are little mini factories showcasing the most interesting elements from their production process,” said Andrew Pollard, president of Project, which will host about 200 brands at 82 Mercer Street. “Trade shows have become so commodisized and fashion is a creative industry, so how do we take a different approach to the trade show? We want to elevate our industry and make it exciting for retailers and brands.”
Splashlight Studio will set up a working, 1,000-square-foot photo studio at Project that can be used by press, bloggers and trend forecasting companies to shoot product from the show. Professional models, hair and makeup services will be available, as well.
Among those using the photo studio will be five bloggers who will cover the show on a daily basis: Selectism.com, Nitrolicious.com, Porhomme.com, Madburyclub.com and Williamyan.com.
“Technology is moving at such as fast pace and a lot of people don’t know how to leverage what they have and communicate effectively with consumers,” Pollard added. “Our blogger pad will allow brands and retailers to interact directly with influential bloggers and find out the best way to work with them.”
Among the brands new to Project New York this season are J.D. Fisk, Adidas SLVR, AG Adriano Golschmied, Edwin, Cheap Monday and Buckler.
The MRket show will be held from July 17 to 19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, with about 300 brands spread out over 42,000 square feet of space, according to show organizers. The show will launch a new section called Vanguards Gallery spotlighting a handful of trend-forward brands curated by Michael Macko, previously a men’s fashion director at both Details magazine and Saks Fifth Avenue. Two have been selected so far — the Barbour Steve McQueen collection and Stubbs & Wootten footwear — with several more to be added.
“It’s going to be right in the middle of the show and staged pretty dramatically,” said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which owns MRket.
A new U.K. design section will join the existing Made in Italy section, with the former hosting brands like Edward Green, Pantherella, Derek Rose, Johnstons of Elgin and John Smedley.
Attendance was up more than 8 percent at the last MRket show, said Lizette Chin, show director, with particular strength from overseas visitors who came from 47 different countries.
“From the stores that I’m in contact with, business is better and retailers are much more optimistic when it compares to a year ago,” added Chin.
Capsule will be held July 18 and 19 at 548 West 22 Street, with about 150 brands on three floors. In a new initiative, a retail component open to the public will be staged in an annex space nearby with merchandise to buy on the spot. Brands new to the show this season include Ovadia & Sons, Danner footwear, Saint James, Pierrepont Hicks neckwear and Peters Mountain Works.
Next door to Capsule will be the Agenda street and action sports show. About 70 brands like Artful Dodger, DC Shoes, Obey, The Hundreds and Stüssy will participate. The May bankruptcy of Metropark, a key retailer in the street and action sports space, has impacted many Agenda retailers but other retailers including Zumiez and Karmaloop are doing well, said Aaron Levant, president of Agenda.