Liberty: Inaugural Show Success
Sam Ben-Avraham became a star on the trade show scene when he produced Project, which was acquired by Advanstar, MAGIC’s parent company, in 2005. He did not seem to miss a step with comeback show Liberty Fairs, which he debuted at the Sands Expo Aug. 19–20.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better show,” he said. “It was incredible.”
The show hosted 324 brands based in 234 booths, said Rachel Zimmerman, a Liberty spokeswoman. Prominent retailers across every retail category perused the show. Majors Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Urban Outfitters appeared at the show. E-commerce shops Karmaloop and 80s Purple shopped Liberty. There was a large slate of leading boutiques at the show such as Madison, Scoop NYC, Traffic, American Rag and Fred Segal. Also sending a delegation of buyers were overseas retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Beams and Ships.
A number of brands said they paid upwards of $6,000 for an 8-by-15-foot booth.
For Patricia Thornton, vice president of sales of heritage surfwear brand Maui & Sons, the Liberty debut was one case where the hype lived up to the results.
“I was really excited because so much was written in the press about it,” Thornton said. “But I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. I’m surprised on how good it was.”
The Maui & Sons booth enjoyed back-to-back appointments through much of the show, she said.
Jason Bates, a veteran showroom owner, also said the show was buzzing with business. “I opened up 23 new accounts in three days. I haven’t done that since the 1990s,” Bates said. He is owner of New York–headquartered Derelicte, which represented Farah Vintage and Farah 1920 at Liberty.
Despite the slate of big retailers shopping the show, vendors still had their work cut out for them, said Victor Wilde, president and chief designer at Los Angeles label The Bohemian Society.
“If you didn’t make appointments, good luck in getting people to stop at your booth,” he said.
The Bohemian Society shared a booth with Krammer & Stoudt, a New York–headquartered men’s label, and Pvblic, a New York–headquartered line for men and women.
As befitting the name of a trade show called Liberty, there was a democracy at the show, where most brands exhibited at 8-by-15-foot booths, Wilde said
“You’re at least on the same playing field as people who have way more resources,” he said. “Your visibility is partially the same.”