Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Domestic Trade Shows issue 12/01/2009

Miami’s fashion trade show circuit took a hit with this year’s shuttering of Material World and Trafik, as well as the relocation of the Shoe Market of the Americas to Fort Lauderdale. But the city plans to attract new business through a continuing fashion and lifestyle initiative launched last year by the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s official economic development partnership.

This story first appeared in the December 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Courting a new market, Beacon president and chief executive Frank Nero explained, “Since Latin American buyers don’t want to travel to New York or Florence, preferring to do business in Miami instead, maybe brands should set up distribution centers here.”

Next spring, the initiative will host a multiday fashion forum to develop a fashion district, as well as a group of fashion members from Paris’ Chamber of Commerce as part of its program to build international partnerships, similar to the Wine&FashionFlorence event in Coral Gables, Fla., that took place in November. Working with Tuscan organizations, it showcased leather and jewelry vendors, among others, that plan to wholesale and retail Italian goods at a permanent store in Miami.

Taking a cue from Chanel, which presented its 2009 resort collection in Miami Beach, the initiative also aims to centralize cruisewear business here.

“Miami is the cruise capital, so it’s a natural fit,” said Nero.

In the meantime, the small pool of remaining trade shows is holding its own, and growing stronger in some cases, such as Coast, which occurs three times annually at South Beach’s Savoy Hotel. Founder Karen Bennett reports the recession has only emphasized attributes like proximity, size, dates and quality assortment that made it successful and unique from the start.

“It’s very expensive to shop New York, and buyers are sticking closer to home more than ever. They’re also holding on to dollars closer to the season, so they appreciate that they can use this show to write immediate orders,” she said.

Attendance doubled for the November show compared with last year’s equivalent, according to Bennett, who cited greater interest from retailers in the Caribbean, Atlanta, Boca Raton and Florida’s West Coast regions. Some new vendors and showrooms previously showed at Trafik, like Atlanta-based Michael & Paula Hyman. More than 184 designers-showrooms occupied three floors, a lounge area and the lobby.

“Space sold out a month in advance. I filled every nook and cranny of the hotel and would have sold the parking lot if I could have,” said Bennett, who has no plans at the moment to move to a larger space.

Dates for 2010 shows are March 15 and 16, and Nov. 1 and 2; June’s dates haven’t been finalized.

SwimShow 2011, the Swimwear Association of Florida’s 28th annual event, is set for July 17 to 20 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The influx of European and Australian vendors includes Max Mara, Vilebrequin and Jean Paul Gaultier. Executive show director Judy Stein reports one of the best outcomes of the recession has been teaming up with the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority for reduced hotel rates, select public events, complimentary transportation and on-site concierges.

“This year we plan to expand our reach into social media and create platforms on Facebook, Twitter, etc.,” she said, expecting a 10 percent increase in attendance for a total of more than 7,000. The show is mostly trade only, but several events are open to the public. “There’s some hesitation due to the economy, but we’re seeing a bounce-back, both in registration numbers and general interest.”

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim takes over the Raleigh Hotel in mid-July with five days of shows and events by more than 15 domestic and international designers at three runway areas plus the hotel’s penthouse. Last year’s invite-only edition featured designers Tibi, Luli Fama and Cia.Maritima, among others, and drew 12,000 attendees, according to Christina Neault, executive producer IMG Fashion.

Shoe Market of the Americas executive director Beverlee Maier attributed the move to the Broward County Convention Center to its proximity to the Hilton Marina Hotel, which houses the show’s upscale segment, SMOTA Collection.

“It’s easier for buyers to walk across the street than take a shuttle bus, plus the Hilton offers more display space, like suites with attached conference rooms,” she said.

Buyers report it’s also easier to access Fort Lauderdale than South Beach, according to Maier. Show dates are March 7 to 9, June 23 to 25 and Sept. 14 to 16.