This article is specific to trade shows in the APPAREL market. The way we do business in the apparel and textile industries is being altered at lightning speed. With that in mind, the trade shows that serve those industries also are taking major steps to keep up with that changing world. We caught up with trade-show organizers to find out what they are doing to better serve customers. Here is what they had to say:
Just as with any business, trade shows have to evolve and adapt with current consumer behaviors in order to stay relevant.
The apparel fabric–sourcing space, in particular, is ever changing with trade policies, fashion trends and new technology.
Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing USA’s mission is to provide a platform that offers visitors a curated group of factories and mills that focus on high-quality and cost-conscious textiles, a robust educational series, as well as an inspiring trend showcase and resources needed for the industry today.
Each show is different than the last. Now exhibitors are focused on speed-to-market and sustainable sourcing options. This edition will have seminars and floor sessions covering chemical-free dyeing processes, the effect of tariffs, China’s take on sustainable solutions as well as trends in color, mood and texture for Spring/Summer 2020.
This year, we introduced a special area called Local Loft, which addresses the need for domestic manufacturing and who is able to meet low-minimum requirements.
Chief Executive Officer
Attendees want more than an overwhelming number of brands to view. They seek assistance to discover new brands and knowledge on what is happening in the industry.
We focus on creating content, including panels that speak to important topics in the industry. We have trend areas where attendees can discover the latest innovations, a philanthropic aim and specialized speed dating, which matches attendees to new brands.
This past July at CurveNewYork, we held a Body Positivity panel, which joined together leading intimate-apparel influencers to speak about size inclusivity, depiction in the media and the intimate-apparel world.
The Age of E-Commerce panel talked about the steps needed to create a successful online presence. The New Retail panel addressed the digital impact on the retail landscape and how to adapt to the bricks-and-mortar business. Workshops held on Social Media and Press Placement educated the audience of retailers on how to use these tools to improve their business.
CurveNewYork and CurveLasVegas had a trend area called the Concept Lounge, which presented the four expressions of the modern woman: Liberated—the free-spirited woman, Self-Expressive—the strong-willed woman, Body Confident—the self-assured woman and Conscious—the natural-living woman.
Samples from exhibiting brands were included in the trend activation based on their relativity to the four trends. Attendees were able to browse the area and speak to a trend expert from the show’s organizer, Eurovet.
Curve worked this season with Project H.U.G. and Yes Master to create an embroidered-eye-mask station on the CurveNewYork show floor. Project H.U.G. is an organization that partners with pediatric healthcare and service providers to deliver the best care and to contribute to children’s independence and optimize their quality of life. The aim was to provide attendees with a unique takeaway from the show as well as to raise money for a special cause.
Vice President, Fashion Events, Clarion UX Womensear In Nevada (WWIN)
The team members at WWIN continually talk about market changes and are adapting to the new ways of doing business with new things.
Multi-channel commerce: On the education front, we’re significantly expanding our WWIN workshop series, offering free sessions led by industry experts focused on information to stay ahead of technology, trends and new opportunities for growth. We are also launching new campaigns and strategies to attract even more online retailers to WWIN.
Responsive selection: Within the next year we’ll be merchandising the floor to create “price-point neighborhoods” with areas matching neighboring price-point ranges and merchandise types. We will continue to build upon WWIN’s reputation as a true hunting ground by creating accessory sections in each of the show floor’s ballroom areas, representing accessory types that match apparel types. In addition to our strong selection of American-made resources, attendees can look for new aisle-focused areas reflecting issues of interest including sustainability, new/emerging designers and more.
Return on investment: To ensure we’re retaining our exhibitor base and attracting new companies, we’ve significantly expanded the show’s key-buyer program and tapped fashion-industry veteran Susan Milano to be our key-accounts manager. Susan will work closely with the show’s exhibitor base to identify potential new attendees, top retail accounts, buying groups and others to bring to the show. Susan is also overseeing the launch of Match!, a customized meeting experience debuting next February. It brings exhibitors and top womenswear and fashion-accessory buyers together in prearranged, confirmed appointments based on mutual interests.
The show experience: WWIN has always had a reputation for its hospitality and fun atmosphere. Among the initiatives we recently launched are menu enhancements for our complimentary buyer breakfasts and lunches. We also have a new fashion show, which is part of our full-show roster. There is now more seating and more WWIN workshops. We’ve also recently launched the new WWIN Key Buyers Concierge Clubto offer a VIP experience to the show’s preselected key-account members. This includes VIP access to the show’s complimentary lunch service, reserved seating in the show’s dining salons and new fashion-show events.
Chief Executive Officer
To help retailers of all levels make the most of their time, the Offprice show has ramped up efforts to promote appointment scheduling through the exhibition’s online platform, Offprice365.
Retailers who browse the selection of more than 3,000 products can message exhibitors directly through the marketplace and book appointments with vendors on the wholesale floor for the next show, to be held in Las Vegas Feb. 3–6, 2019.
Online sourcing has become more than a convenience—it’s a necessity for many off-price retailers looking to source quick fill-ins throughout the year. As one of the top order-writing shows during Las Vegas Fashion Week, many Offprice retailers use Offprice365 to reorder merchandise from their favorite sellers and get a sneak peek of new lines before the show begins. Of course, the exhibition will always be the focus of our business, but Offprice365 will help improve the off-price experience through an online presence.
To enhance the experience for buyers on the show floor, the show is also launching a special Big Game Day event on the opening day of the show, Feb. 3. Retailers can partake in festivities in the afternoon and celebrate the upcoming Super Bowl.
Match Me stations will be located throughout the show floor to help retailers find the products and pricing that best match their stores. Staff will help buyers plan their best walking routes and give first-time attendees the best buying experience possible. Various educational programming will also be available in the Networking Hub section of the wholesale floor.
The crucial thing is to listen to the market and to the industry’s actors to understand how their needs have evolved. People don’t spend as much time at trade shows as they did in the past.
Trade shows must provide moments for experience, exchange, information. Visitors need to find in trade shows a partner to guide them not only in making their choice about products to buy but also in thinking about the industry’s current or future challenges.
As far as Première Vision is concerned, we have a selective offer, which attracts buyers from all over the world—every season 74 percent of the 55,000 visitors come from outside France.
We have everything from yarns to fabrics, leather to components, designs to manufacturing, and we are one of the best in terms of diversity, creativity and innovation.
Première Vision Paris is also a place to meet, exchange, think, and get inspired and informed. As you know, fashion information is crucial at Première Vision Paris. It’s part of its DNA.
Next February, we will present all the trends for Spring/Summer 2020 through our 10 educational and inspirational forums. These fashion areas were reorganized a year ago to be more effective according to buyers’ needs.
We also have discussions about the major topics and challenges facing the industry. One important topic is the relationship between creation and technology as well as the growth of fashion-tech influence.
Technological innovation is a strategic issue for the fashion industry’s future. Building on its mission to decode future trends, Première Vision sought to support the transformation of the fashion sector by launching the Wearable Lab in February 2017—a space at the heart of the show designed to showcase fashion-tech players.
In February 2018, the area expanded. Next February, it should go on growing with four zones: an experimental space to discover working prototypes, an area comprising companies and startups at the origins of fashion tech, an inspiring exhibit, and a program of sophisticated and accessible conferences ranging from startup pitches to an expert roundtable in the heart of the Wearable Village.
We are equally committed to sustainable fashion thanks to our Smart Creation platform. Last September was the third edition of our Smart Square, a space dedicated to eco-responsible solutions for a better fashion industry.
Meanwhile, in September, a new area launched called Sport & Tech, which attracted new types of brands: sports actors and ready-to-wear brands looking for innovative products to develop their high-performance fashion pieces.
One other important decision we made was to create the first Première Vision Marketplace. Launched last September, it is a way to meet the market’s needs of being able to get connections and buy collections all year long, in addition to the business done at the physical trade shows.
After its opening to the weavers, this business-to-business e-commerce platform will welcome leather suppliers next February. Accessory manufacturers will be included by September 2019.
These are a few actions and strategic developments we’ve set up to make our shows more attractive and adapt to the visitors’ expectations.
Director of CMC Events
California Market Center
As new shows, markets and buying avenues emerge each season, retailers continue to become highly selective in choosing where and when to invest their efforts. Brands strive to highlight distinguishing elements that set them apart from their sea of neighbors as experiential becomes a necessity, not just a buzzword.
Attracting buyers doesn’t boil down to a one-dimensional solution as it’s an ongoing obstacle course of various efforts. It’s a combination of the physical presence of products, the convenience of digital solutions, the engagement of experiential, the familiarity of relationships and the proximity of convenience. We have to refine and select our audience and ensure we are providing them with all of the above on a consistent basis.
With an incredible year of growth under our belts in 2018, the California Market Center will continue to stay hyper-focused on buyer and consumer programming, market-focused outreach and expanded partnerships moving into 2019.
Creating a space for brands and retailers to connect on a deeper level through strategic collaborations will continue to prove relevant, such as this past October’s Sustainable Fashion Forum with Fashiondex, The Future of Fashion partnership with Fashion Revolution, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Lefrenchlab and The Boutique Hub x CMC Los Angeles Experience.
The CMC has a unique obligation as a multifaceted team overseeing fashion tenants, venue space and the production of multiple trade shows to bring the advancement of L.A. markets, the Fashion District and the industry as a whole back to the forefront of our conversations. As Los Angeles quietly outshines other U.S. cities in manufacturing, we continue to shy away from promoting the plethora of resources our local industry has to offer.
The possibilities in L.A. aren’t bound to one market week or event. The industry lives and breathes here, produces and manufactures here, sells and promotes here, and, in turn, buyers and brands can expect to discover so much more than just a trade-show floor.
Designers and Agents
The mission at D&A has been to be responsive to the needs of the retailers and designers our platform serves.
We have been able to accomplish that by focusing on the creative integrity, quality and authenticity of the collections that exhibit at D&A. It sounds simple, but this is the foundation of our identity and, frankly, that of every great retailer as well.
The real challenge is for retailers facing a changing landscape. The growth of e-commerce, the direct-to-consumer brand model and Instagram shopping have had a significant impact on bricks-and-mortar shops.
As a trade show, it puts us in the eye of the storm. Our role is to bring products to the marketplace that will enable retailers to distinguish themselves from the rest and refine their identity. That is the bottom line.
President and Chief Executive
Dallas Market Center
We recently asked retailers what matters most for their market experience. The answers were clear—help me make meaningful connections and help me discover more new products across the spectrum.
That’s why we stand apart as the only lifestyle marketplace, delivering not only more product options within apparel and accessories but also in gift and home.
Buyers can truly find it all in Dallas like never before. Our marketplace evolution includes the launch of special exhibits such as Brand Assembly for contemporary fashion and Shine for beauty and wellness. It also includes the dramatic expansion of in-demand categories such as Western apparel and accessories.
Finally, we are connecting retailers with ideas and inspiration via curated displays, social media and live events, including trend tours and fashion shows to help them succeed. In 2018, we welcomed a record number of new buyers, and we are excited about the opportunities in the new year.
Just like the rest of the retail industry, trade shows continue to have a difficult time getting people in the door, and we, as producers, understand the need to adapt and think outside of the box.
Liberty Fairs, which also includes Cabana and Capsule, has never been afraid of pushing the envelope and understanding the right time to make a change to keep up with industry expectations.
When looking at the needs throughout both our men’s and women’s shows, the biggest necessary change was to revamp the Las Vegas show and breathe life back into the overall experience.
This February marks the first time we will be relocating Liberty Las Vegas from the traditional convention-center setting and moving into a completely fresh space in downtown Las Vegas.
Here, we can totally transform the trade show into a lifestyle event where people actually want to spend their time. We’ve been speaking with key brands and retailers for months who are supporting the move. We’ll continue to bring nothing short of the best customer service, work with local partners to provide convenient access to the new location, expand lodging and dining options, and create an entertaining environment from the moment people arrive.
Marketing & Promotion
Guatemala Apparel & Textile Association
Apparel Sourcing Show
In a technology-changing era, we have to take advantage of all the data available. We are now able to know the trends ahead of time and study the analytics and data of consumers, sourcing and participants.
Therefore, we choose the correct channel of promotion and network with participants through connectivity programs to make their participation easier and friendlier.
The trade shows allow attendees to follow a sector of the industry or the industry as a whole and help them to be acquainted wtih the available raw materials and production to fill their sourcing needs. The shows also highlight future trends, letting participants and exhibitors have an insight into what is available for their long-term-strategy plans.
Swimwear Association of Florida/Miami SwimShow
Trade shows go through ebbs and flows just like other industries. It is important for a promoter and/or organizer to recognize those paths that lie ahead and determine the best way to proceed.
SwimShow strives to connect the best retailers with the best brands. It is a business-to-business trade show where the brands are curated and the attendees are qualified. Retailers and vendors alike do not want to miss out on this opportunity.
The annual SwimShow is an essential show for the industry—a platform for building relationships, enjoying the latest trends in swimwear, and connecting buyers and manufacturers. SwimShow, celebrating its 37th anniversary, is recognized as the launching pad for many of the industry’s leading lines.
The newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center enhances the clean, crisp ambience of this trade show. The building is contemporary and beautiful and just the perfect venue to house the international SwimShow.
Not only does SwimShow present the best business environment but we also present an enjoyable and relaxing environment with our expanded Zen Lounge areas, which include dry bars, braid bars, makeup bars, reiki wellness healers, henna tattoo artists, nail specialists and massage therapists.
Our Zen Lounges provide our retailers and vendors with a chance to regroup and recharge during the four-day trade show to allow everyone to be at their best when conducting business.
It’s all about the experience! Shopping the best in swimwear, resortwear, beachwear, lifestyle, men’s, children’s and accessories plus engaging with all our wellness treatments.
Not to mention the continuous complimentary food offerings throughout the day. Who doesn’t love to eat?
If the environment is right and the right mix of vendors is present, the retailers want to be a part of this trade show.
Plus, there’s a whole lot of wonderful, fun surprises we are working on for the 2019 edition of SwimShow.
Vice President, Apparel Trade Shows
The challenge for trade shows is making an in-person event remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.
We face the same challenge as many of our buyers: When shopping can be done online, why does it need to take place in person?
The answer for Atlanta Apparel is in the market experience. Buyers find pampering, treats, giveaways, celebrations and inspirational, Instagram-able moments at every turn, plus fascinating influencer presentations and industry-leading fashion events.
With sips and snaps, live fashion shoots, and trend displays at each market and its semiannual seasonal fashion runway shows, the trade show’s fashion-trend forecasting resources are unmatched in the industry.
The Atlanta Apparel market experience is not just made by parties, fashion shows and special events but also by the layout of the show, which encourages retailers to discover new lines as they shop known categories, the knowledgeable staff offering our famous hospitality, the curated Instagram feed sharing the best of the market and the technological innovations that help buyers effectively find resources.
The new Atlanta Apparel app is part of that experience building. Focusing only on AmericasMart’s apparel collection, the app allows buyers to search exhibitors, categories and lines; navigate with ease using turn-by-turn directions; explore events, amenities and dining options; stay connected with push notifications; use the market-plan feature to organize their trips; and stay in the know with the latest social posts to see what’s trending before, during and after market.
Fashion Market Northern California
As with all trade shows in our industry, we are trying to obtain and please buyers as a way to increase their attendance in 2019.
One of the big changes we will implement is a VIP check-in. Buyers who preregister online will be able to stop and pick up their badges without waiting in line. They will also receive a little gift bag with water and other treats to help write orders.
We always want to make new buyers, as well as returning buyers, feel welcome and to know we are available to help them navigate our show. Moving forward, we will have a dedicated Ask Me person who will be walking around the show to help with any questions, directions or suggestions for shopping a certain product or look.
One incentive we’re proud of is our offer of a one-night free hotel room to first-time buyers available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In 2018, we gifted six rooms for each show.
We also continue to make our dedicated buyers feel appreciated by recognizing our five-time attendees in our January show book. In addition, each of them will receive a gift. Last year it was a monogrammed portable phone charger.
We are also going to dedicate a small area to showcase new vendors. This space will allow a buyer to quickly see new products in an organized and efficient way.
New improvements on food choices were also made. Buyers’ lunch coupons now enable them to receive a healthy lunch on us. Continental breakfast and afternoon treats will continue.
All these changes will help ensure that Fashion Market Northern California continues to be known for its friendly and easy shopping experience.
UBM Fashion, part of Informa Plc
For 2019, Informa’s Fashion Group is focused on enhancing the buyer experience at our events through new technologies and experiences that include increasing the number of new brands to further fuel the discovery process for our customers and create a more impactful show experience.
MAGIC Online, a new digital-technology tool we are launching during the February 2019 edition of MAGIC, will allow brands and buyers to navigate and connect like never before.
Features include ActivLocator, which provides interactive maps of the show floors and allows buyers to better maximize their time by viewing where they are on the show floor while highlighting areas of interest around them.
ActivLocator will even provide relevant suggestions of where to go next, based on the buyer’s profile. Brands can also utilize MAGIC Online’s tools by helping them connect with their existing and new buyers, arranging meetings onsite, and ultimately increasing their return on investment.
MAGIC Online’s digital capabilities will create the opportunity for both brands and buyers to connect and do business before, during and after the show and will be complimentary to all brands and buyers attending MAGIC.
In addition, Informa Fashion Groups’ strategic focus is to amplify our international presence by creating awareness and increasing participation from international brands and retailers. By introducing emerging international brands to the U.S. market and by merchandising them appropriately within our portfolio of shows, it will create a more effective experience for our buyers.
Informa Plc, which acquired UBM Fashion in June, will be investing $15 million over the next three years and is looking to reach new retailers and create an environment onsite for buyers to effectively do business.