Newsmakers 2020: Virtual Trade Shows Connect a Grounded Fashion Industry

Trade Shows

Virtual Trade Shows | Photo courtesy of Swim Show

Virtual Trade Shows | Photo courtesy of Swim Show

As of Thursday, December 17, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic reached the shores of the United States in early 2020, apparel-industry trade-show producers canceled on-site shows and pushed back in-person events. One of the first event producers to think outside the trade-show floor was Kingpins, which introduced its April virtual edition of Kingpins24, a streaming event.

“We, as a whole, are resilient, resourceful and optimistic,” Kingpins founder Andrew Olah said in March. “When one door closes, another opens.”

To accommodate their audiences, additional producers joined the trend as technology providers including Grip, Joor, The Diigitals, NuOrder and The Fabricant helped ease the transition into virtual events. Some producers hosted full trade show–style virtual destinations while others relied on information sessions for the exchange of ideas.

By June, L.A. Market Week saw showrooms hosting Zoom meetings and socially distanced on-site visits. International Market Centers and the Dallas Market Center also made buildings accessible with support for digital visits as well.

With anticipation and hope, the fashion industry is ending 2020 as announcements are made heralding a cautious—and safe—return to on-site trade shows. Most event producers see potential for a future in which a hybrid model based on inclusivity will best serve all members of the fashion community.

“We will do a hybrid model moving forward,” Informa Markets Fashion Commercial President Kelly Helfman said following a December announcement that the producer would include on-site events among its 2021 offerings. “There will be MAGIC Digital going on alongside that show, so it will give buyers the opportunity who feel comfortable to come into the live event, shop and preview some of the brands prior and follow up with shopping on the digital platform.”