This past week, at the relatively laid-back Agenda show in Huntington Beach, California, nearly every conversation ended with, “See you in Vegas.” Everyone’s going. You are too. Though no official numbers are released, over 75,000 exhibitors, buyers and press will descend upon Sin City to take the definitive pulse of the fashion industry. Here at Apparel Insiders, we cut through the press release mumbo jumbo and spoke, instead, to the top brass at the major Vegas shows, to get to the heart of what’s new, exciting and not-to-be-missed later this month.
Director of ENKVegas
Sampson on what sets ENK apart:
“We are presenting brands, by gender, in a focused and convenient environment. The Lafite ballroom will house our men’s as well as unisex brands and directly across the hallway in the Latour ballroom will be only women’s brands. ENKVegas has always been and will continue to be a thoughtfully merchandised and easy to shop event for men and women’s better retailers. The cross-section of product along with the relaxed and productive environment makes ENKVegas precise, directional and convenient. It’s an easier and more enjoyable experience for retailers to shop. And, since the inception in 2008, ENKVegas has carefully grown, evenly by category, by about 15 to 20% each show. Along with a host of loyal brands, we welcome many new and exciting labels to each show, such as Tsovet, Jun and Brooklyn Motors. There will also be an opening night event sponsored by Hudson and The Revolution Group at Encore’s Surrender and a pop-up spa by Align. They’ll style hair and offer brief tantric yoga classes. Plus, as always, our full breakfast, lunch, snacks and cocktails each show day.”
President of PROJECT
Pollard on what makes PROJECT tick:
“At PROJECT, we are constantly re-imagining the tradeshow format. At Project, it has always been our intention to create a truly compelling experience that sparks curiosity, stimulates conversation, educates and ultimately inspires. We also provide a lot of added value to our attendees and exhibitors with initiatives like Fashion Week and our pop-up video/photography studios. These initiatives not only entertain, but also provide commerce-driving opportunities that truly set us apart.
Pollard on Innovation:
“For the last year, I have been listening to my colleagues discuss the industry and have started to see a shift away from discourse around what doesn’t work any more towards more optimistic, solution based rhetoric. Creativity is king and whether it’s a start-up or an established company, the success of a fashion brand hinges on its ability to be different. The need for product innovation is obvious but what is imperative is innovation in the way we do business. As consumers, all of us are seeking more meaning and substance with deeper, more authentic connections, and the brands that are embracing this are the ones winning. There are no more rules, anything goes and everything is encouraged. Architects are becoming designers, e-tailers are opening brick and mortar stores, consumers are buying on mobile devices, bloggers are the new style authority, social and environmental responsibility is now mainstream and fashion is truly the global language.
“This season, PROJECT Wooster is our premier showcase. It has been designed to challenge the industry to think differently about how they do business. The consumer is shopping differently and the old rules of industry segmentation are becoming irrelevant. The consumer doesn’t care if a brand is a luxury brand or a contemporary brand. What is important is a point-of-view and the ability to evolve and change that point-of-view to create excitement and a reason to buy.”
Co-Creator of CAPSULE
Sultanik on CAPSULE’s Latest Additions:
“We’re on the fifth floor of the Venetian, started last season and are continuing to grow with 150-plus men’s and women’s brands. We’ve added vintage apparel, cash and carry and wholesale orders. This time, we have invited furniture dealers so that buyers can not only purchase apparel but also change up the look of their store. We specialize in hand-selected, local and international sartorial traditions and artisanal designers. That is what the consumer is looking for.”
MAGIC International President and Executive Vice President of Advanstar’s Fashion Group
DeMoulin on Menswear:
“MAGIC has dozens of neighborhoods and each has its own, distinctive personality. It’s like visiting New York. In men’s, though we showcase traditional menswear, we are always trying to help new brands. So we are launching Launch Pad with Fashion Business Incorporated (FBI). They are all about up-and-coming talent. We are bringing ten to twelve of their brands to the show floor. Buyers will come to meet with them and vote. The winner will get a free booth at the next show.”
DeMoulin on SLATE and STREET:
“On the other side of menswear is Street and Slate. As the action sports industry grows, so does Slate. We have more than 12-dozen core action sports brands. We have been working on the RIDE area for a year and this needed expanding when ASR folded. We held a best line contest in different regions so we’ll be flying out boarding shops and some of their sponsored pros to a street show. It will bring an amazing energy. We reach more buyers than a show like Agenda because our buyers are buying across multiple categories, looking for something to delight their customers. They can come to Magic, see their core accounts but also expand their distribution, which is very different than a tradeshow that only caters to one market.”
DeMoulin on POOL:
“POOL is our place where 80% of the exhibitors are still operating out of their basements or garages. It’s a tight-knit community and it feels very boutique-y and alternative. It’s an opportunity to be that little brand but to have tens of thousands of buyers walk by. It’s still a lot of craft and artisanal creations with a large cash and carry section because that’s how a lot of these exhibitors function. POOL definitely marches to the beat of its own drummer.”
DeMoulin on WWDMAGIC:
“When we held womenswear in the North Hall at the Convention Center, it was always sold out so our recent move to Central Hall has given us the opportunity to expand and grow. We recently started and are now expanding our blogger initiative. Last season we had over a million people following those blogs.
“We are also expanding our partnership with PRÊT À PORTER PARIS. So the PRÊT À PORTER section and White/Better to Bridge will move back to North Hall, debuting 30 or so French brands. This is very exciting for American buyers.”
DeMoulin on SWIM:
“Swim is getting the attention it deserves, expanding to over ten thousand feet of floor space in Central Hall. We’re even doing an off site swim event and fashion show at the Rumor Hotel with Ashley Rodriguez from American Idol.”
DeMoulin on Sourcing:
“We have been working with the U.S. Department of Commerce, making us the largest sourcing exhibition in the Western Hemisphere to reach out to Central and South American facilities. Since the cost structure has changed in China, these Central and South American markets can provide quicker turn around time and at better costs. A lot of factory opportunities are developing now. Our SOURCING, in general, is the largest in North America and allows exhibitors to look upstream on the supply chain, helping Magic to be a transactional tradeshow and also a networking and learning market.”
DeMoulin on FNPlatform:
“This time around, we are highlighting a lot more international footwear designers from countries like Brazil, Spain, Mexico and over 30 companies from the UK in our Footwear Garden. There will also be a luxury area. This is the fourth Platform since we’ve launched and it’s now providing an opportunity to meet with apparel stores that don’t usually sell shoes. We have listened to our community and created a show that meets their needs. We even added a day of seminars and education such as the footwear industry seminar with the USRA to help apparel stores add footwear. In fact, footwear sales were one of the first to rebound and expand their assortment in this economy and these stores want to be able to meet all the needs of their customers. Plus, all of the major footwear buyers are coming. So exhibitors can tap into that over 70% of our apparel buyers say they want to add footwear to their stores.”
President and CEO of Business Journals Inc.
Jones on MODA:
“We run three juried shows. Our mission is to serve the better markets, being efficient, productive and convenient for upscale retailers, new designers and status brands. The jury looks at quality of design and manufacturing but also price point.
“Moda has grown 20% larger with expanded categories, serving the more contemporary portion of the women’s market. Better retailers are going to be excited about brands like Allen Allen, Cullen Cashmere and Johnny Was. We’ll have our reception on Sunday, August 21, with some wine and people can mingle and shop. We successfully introduced a DJ that we’re bringing to Vegas. She’s the resident DJ at Bloomingdales in Soho, New York and has the capability of bringing down the energy level when needed at certain times during the show and, other times, energizing the floor.”
Jones on MRket:
“MRket has grown by 10% this season. We’re the Who’s Who of better menswear retail. We’re helping young and emerging designers, bringing our Vanguards Gallery that we premiered in New York in July. Vanguards Gallery is a very focused, gallery presentation, curated by Michael Macko who personally invites retailers and introduces them to new lines like Rodd & Gunn, PVBLIC and Lee Cooper. In addition, we have introduced a grooming spa with manicures, shoeshines, shaves and haircuts. This is just another amenity that sets us apart. We serve complimentary breakfasts, full catering, coffee and bottled water, just like how you’d treat customers at fine retail establishments.”
Jones on AccessoriesTheShow:
“Accessories has grown over 40% this season. The lines that have joined all the categories include jewelry, handbags, scarves and leggings companies like a v max, Tano, Sorrelli and Potluck Paris. We’re coming off the best accessories show we’ve ever had in New York. Buyers are still cautious and customers are still cautious. Trade shows weren’t intriguing enough and were confusing and stressful. We set out to change that, providing amenities and making things inviting and comfortable for buyers, like they’d treat their customers.”