Liberty Moves in New Direction to Expand
In 2013, Sam Ben-Avraham introduced Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs to fill a hole in the trade-show market.
“We built a bridge between the best menswear, the best denim and the best sportswear under one roof. My vision was to create a show that was design-driven and felt like more of a curated environment,” he said.
Liberty marked its 10th season at its Feb. 12–14 run at the Sands Expo and Convention Center with more than 350 brands exhibiting. High-end retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Revolve, Barneys Japan, Ships and Ron Robinson shopped the show.
In celebration of five years in business, the show prepared for some changes.
Ben-Avraham and Sharifa Murdock, Liberty’s co-owner, said that Liberty would become a dual-gender show. “It’s important for us to have women’s brands,” Murdock said. “It will be slowly rolled out.”
On Feb. 24, Liberty will produce the inaugural run of Liberty Women’s in New York City. The show will be devoted to women’s fashions.
The new dual-gender direction for the Las Vegas show attracted Hudson Jeans to participate in the recent Liberty show, said Hudson spokesperson Andia Bayandor. Hudson had previously exhibited at the competing Project trade show. “We were looking to switch up what we wanted to do with trade shows,” she said.
New looks for the recent Liberty show in Las Vegas included the introduction of new sections. At the back of the hall, Liberty produced The Five Pillars. It was a special exhibition on product collaborations and special products that symbolized the best aspects of the fashion industry: innovation, activation, social responsibility, collaboration and exclusivity.
Liberty collaborated with neighboring trade shows Agenda and Capsule to produce Assembly, a forum between the trade shows devoted to panel discussions and seminars on the fashion business. Speakers included Ronnie Fieg of New York–headquartered Kith, which opened a West Hollywood, Calif., location a few days after Assembly wrapped up. Other speakers included Doug Palladini, global brand president of Vans, and Harley Finkelstein, chief executive officer of Shopify.
Also taking a bow at Liberty was a new section called Indigo, devoted to premium and contemporary jeans. Denim brands making a trade-show debut at Liberty included Edwin, a prominent Japanese brand looking to expand its sales in North America.
Australian brand Outland made its North American trade-show debut at Liberty. It is designed in Australia but manufactured in Cambodia, in part by women rescued from sex trafficking. New, boutique and emerging jeans brands such as Railcar Fine Goods and Golden Denim also exhibited at the show.
At the show, vendors reported good traffic and business. Vince Gonzales of Edwin said he was pleased with the pace of buyer traffic. “Traffic has been steady. It’s been more quality than quantity,” he said.
Unitryb, based in San Diego, relaunched at Liberty. Marcy Grismer, Unitryb’s director of sales and marketing, said business was good. “I thought we’d do five orders a day, but we exceeded our expectations,” she said.
Don Zuidema, a cofounder of the LASC boutique in West Hollywood, Calif., said buyers shopping Liberty experienced a good start to the year. “January and February 2018 was much better than 2017. Our weather is so good. When weather is good, people go shopping. When it is rainy, they don’t want to go out,” Zuidema said.
Last year, consumer confidence was not so good. “Last year, we were looking at a president that in California was not the popular choice. No one knew what was going to go on. For better or worse, we have adapted to it. We are making the best of it,” he said.
At Liberty, fashion trends included a continuation of the high/low look as well as styles where people mix designer clothes with basics, fast-fashion or low-end pieces, said Wil Eddins, head of business development for the e-commerce emporium Wanderset and owner of the Las Vegas boutique Institution 18b.