As trade-show organizers and producers who have weathered the pandemic as well as ongoing financial challenges, what is the new normal for how you do business?
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the “new normal” is the term itself. It’s here to stay, which means it won’t be needing any quotation marks around it.
What it describes, however, is in constant flux. And so California Apparel News rounded up leaders of the industry’s top trade shows and asked them to share their insights and innovations over the past two-and-a-half years and tell us what the new normal will look like going forward.
Vice President, Fashion and Apparel Shows
Texworld New York City
Apparel Sourcing New York City
The unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic have reminded us of the importance of adaptation and perseverance. Despite the obstacles, we are happy to be introducing Texworld Evolution New York City, which serves as a nexus for growth and the future of our sourcing event.
Reflecting the ever-changing climate of the industry, the event is focused on enhancing the sourcing experience for both buyers and exhibitors: Sustainability, low order minimums and technology stand at the forefront of our shows. The expanded event is set to bring three full days of global sourcing, networking, education, workshops, curated trends and more. Texworld’s industry-leading educational program in partnership with Lenzing provides unmatched insight and perspectives not to be found anywhere else.
In addition to our mainstay shows, Texworld New York City and Apparel Sourcing New York City, we have added two new co-located events to the show floor. Global Footwear Sourcing, presented by Texworld New York City, Material Exchange and the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America, is returning after its summer debut and features a wide range of footwear components. Printsource, the leading textile and surface-design show, is our newest addition and serves as a hub for the world’s top creative talent and showcases hundreds of collections by international surface- and textile-design studios. These key partnerships have been made in order to expand our product offerings and enrich the overall sourcing experience.
OFFPRICE Las Vegas
As we look at our industry in a new light, we recognize that live events have an undeniable resiliency. Although businesses are traveling again, there has been a shift in the number of trade shows they prioritize. Staff shortages, supply-chain issues and demand for higher ROI have put pressure on those who attend trade shows. As a result, more than ever organizers have been tasked with enhancing the user experience and facilitating relationships between buyers and sellers.
For OFFPRICE, the importance of customer service has always been and will continue to be our key to success. Within that framework, we are committed to making connections and helping businesses grow with the right opportunities at the right time.
We know that in-person marketplaces will continue to be the most productive use of time for wholesale buyers. As such, business on the show floor must be straightforward and convenient. Through thoughtful matchmaking we create a networking environment that does not close when the show ends. Our goal is to elevate the onsite experience and foster a well-connected community throughout the year. By infusing technology into our strategy, we provide ongoing opportunities to source products, make valuable connections and maximize ROI.
While fashion is often recognized for its technological advancements, the truth is that much of the industry is still rooted in “old school” ways of business. As a leading marketplace and networking platform, we believe it is in part our responsibility to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies and showcase ways they can enhance the trade.
Before the pandemic, we were focused on using technology to augment OFFPRICE, but those initiatives have certainly been expedited. World-class customer service combined with year-round digital tools have allowed us to grow and attract new visitors each year.
The intimate and sleepwear U.S. markets have increased by $1.9 billion since 2018. As a result, retailers came to our Curve shows in New York, Los Angeles and Montreal in 2022 with larger open-to-buys. We expect a similar trend in 2023 as buyers look to add new designers to their merchandising mix after playing it safe the last two years.
We are returning to pre-pandemic levels of attendance at Curve with a focus on value-added experiences and opportunities to support new design talent at our shows. This year we launched the Lingerie Briefs Salon, a curated space by Ellen Lewis that offered new designers the chance to showcase their collections at a reduced participation cost. The Salon was extremely successful, and buyers appreciated the introduction to an international mix of designers they might otherwise not have seen. For our upcoming Curve NY February 2023 show we will be continuing to invest in new talent with the Lingerie Briefs Salon and a curated area of men’s lingerie.
New post-pandemic initiatives we are extending to buyers are specialized VIP concierge services, including preordering lunches, travel assistance and personal shopping. Customization, customer service and creating community are what we are focusing on at Curve for 2023.
Evolution Concept Show
At the Evolution Concept Show, the new normal is being agile and sensitive. As a designer and show organizer, I naturally understand what a brand may need from trade shows facing uncertainties due to the ongoing financial challenges and the pandemic. Unique to my clients and exhibitors is my ability to provide venues that provide access to truly well-crafted and beautifully designed products. I curate product from independent designers and create emotional connections to the products being shown.
I believe more than ever that both buyers and brands want a genuine experience attending trade shows. There will be fewer formalities and more time to share a personal experience. Evolution Concept Show provides both digital and physical experiences. The online platform was designed to provide easy and secure access for buyers to shop for brands remotely and efficiently.
CEO and Co-founder
The new normal for us means being comfortable with constantly evolving and learning, which is part of the ethos that keeps us leading with compassion—communicating openly and positively. The industry and the world are changing, and listening to our community is critical. Whether we’re receiving feedback from the brands or from our team, we’re applying it to the next experience, always ensuring that the energy and tone of our shows are inclusive and productive for everyone involved.
We’re always thankful to have lasting and meaningful relationships that have made it through unprecedented times and that make us stronger together. Whether you’re a brand or a buyer, we always want to know how you’re doing and what you need to thrive on the show floor.
PREFACE is a relatively new trade show, with our tenth season approaching this January. During COVID, our smaller scale allowed us to pivot easily into a “show in a box” model that included physical components we sent out to our audience as well as virtual group activities. We took risks and began hosting in-person shows as early as July 2021, followed by February 2022 and July 2022. We feel confident that our Los Angeles show this January will be back at full capacity if not larger.
While we desire a wider audience to attend the show, an intimate experience is still critical to the quality of our event. Providing a space where designers and developers can explore new ideas and innovations offers the unique ability to engage with suppliers in a more meaningful way. Sponsorship of our event has increased dramatically this season, and we are thrilled to have partners such as Mimaki, Noble Biomaterials and Good Earth Cotton supporting our efforts. PREFACE brings together the elements of technology and innovation critical to the future of fashion so that brands can create their own story.
Cooper Design Space
The pandemic era has certainly impacted how we do business in supporting and promoting Market Weeks at Cooper Design Space. We, like many businesses, have worked diligently to augment and enhance the ongoing safety practices in the common areas. Most of the safety work implemented over the last two years is here to stay. We continue to work on the importance of one-on-one connections with our showrooms, exhibitors and attendees of Los Angeles Market for business productivity. We realize the dollar needs to stretch more in today’s economy, and keeping Los Angeles a destination for buyers is key to the new normal.
We have added to the amenities of the building available during trade-show events, such as implementing a package locker system, buyer’s lounge with workplace areas and charging stations, as well as providing refreshments for our guests. We collaborate with hotels for special rates and promote the events through video and social media.
We interact with other trade-show hosts in our fashion community to both cosponsor the recent 9th and Main streets block party as well as support additional measures that communicate the amazing fashion business and West Cost style that make the Los Angeles Market Weeks so special.
CALA Men’s Show
The business model has not changed drastically since the pandemic, but the pandemic has made us double down on our priorities. Our goal has always been to create a premier regional show. The pandemic times put our industry in a sense of disarray, isolation and confusion and forced everyone to use Zoom calls to present their collections.
In order to compensate for this and keep up with our community-centered priorities, we have been spending a great deal of time reconnecting with our brands, reps and buyers to see how our show can best suit their current needs. We take pride in listening to retailers and reps to understand how to build an environment that creates an opportunity to build sales and lasting relationships.
We have been hosting cocktail parties at our shows with live music, lunch and drinks in order to help everyone meet new people and reconnect with old ones. Despite doing all of this, we have gone to great lengths to keep our prices down so that vendors and reps are profitable. With the cost of travel being so high, regional trade shows are becoming more important because our show allows reps to work with many retailers in a short time. Other trade shows have raised their prices, but we’ve chosen to keep our show fees as low as possible while still maintaining a great ambience and experience.
Last season we had our most successful show, and we are excited for our next show coming up in February.
ISPO Munich & OutDoor by ISPO
We can’t tackle today’s challenges with yesterday’s solutions. The new normal in our business is to act as agile as the situation requires. It’s been over two years since the last ISPO Munich. In this time, more has happened in the sports business than in the past ten years. Entirely new challenges have emerged, such as disrupted supply chains, changing order cycles and increased digitalization. Sports needs new perspectives. That’s why our motto this year is “New Perspectives on Sports.”
In response to earlier order cycles, we have also brought forward the date of ISPO to the end of November. As the leading international event, we want not only to present a showcase of new products from the sporting-goods industry at ISPO Munich, but our job as the central platform for sports business is to address and discuss all relevant topics of our industry such as sustainability, digitalization, disrupted supply chains, changing order cycles and the importance of sports in society.
What does this mean for our business? On one hand we have created this year a “Future Lab” at ISPO Munich, a new concept hall that brings together proprietary business solutions and curated programs such as ISPO Brandnew, ISPO Award, ISPO Academy and the ISPO Collaborators Club and places them in a forward-looking relationship with each other.
On the other hand, our approach of limiting the maximum booth size to 200 square meters has led to exhibitors focusing more on the really important topics. Many are also grateful that they can now use their budget for content instead of the biggest booth. In 2022, it’s no longer about showing the complete collection as an exhibitor but of presenting the top products from the range for a good overview as well as explaining the brand positioning and vision.
Informa Markets Fashion
The past few years have given us opportunities to step back and evaluate how we conduct our business and how we can improve our business. As a customer-led organization, we are constantly monitoring market changes and staying flexible so that we have the ability to pivot with the ever-changing needs of the industry. We want to ensure that everything we do drives value for the customer. Recently we have seen shifts in the digital space as well as an increase in the importance of social responsibility. As the digital world has grown, we have created additional avenues of visibility through marketing services and digital placements. Moving forward, we will continue to make our core-event opportunities accessible through technology.
Challenging times can generate new priorities, and today we see a significant emphasis on social impact. For our team, sustainability and inclusivity have become a part of our core and can be found throughout all our brands. As a leader in the fashion and events space, we have made a commitment to becoming more sustainable from the top of the company down to the event level. We also want to guide our customers on their path to becoming more sustainable by providing access to resources that support that journey.
Another top priority is our dedication to becoming more inclusive overall. We want our shows to be reflective of the many facets of the fashion industry. We can do this by building a community where everyone feels welcome and there is something for everyone.
There is no “new normal” at Informa Markets Fashion. We are always evolving, growing and changing to not just be normal but to be dynamic.
President and Chief Visionary Officer
OC Apparel Show
Our first show was in May of 2021. We saw a need to get the buyers back to feeling the product again. We believe that when you buy from a computer screen you lose the passion in the buy. You are apt to buy what you know from the vendors that you trust, and even then orders are cautiously placed and there is very little risk taken.
Color values came into the stores differently than expected, and trim and fit was off a little, but buyers needed goods on their floors. The OC Apparel Show team knew that passion is what drives our business, and we made a very calculated decision to have the first in-person show during the lockdowns on the West Coast.
Our buyers loved it. They missed seeing the reps, touching the merchandise and getting out of their stores. As far as we see it, the new normal is very similar to the old normal. Don’t overcomplicate the business; use caution and keep your customers comfortable and safe.
We will continue to strive to make our show the best in the industry by talking to and listening to our partners. We believe that our three-way partnership with our buyers and our reps helps keep us grounded. We treat our reps and our buyers equally and love and respect all of them. We are focused on making the OC Apparel Show a unique and thriving regional show, and we believe that if you let your show become stale and stagnant it will become obsolete. I don’t want to give away our secret sauce, but we will continue to improve show after show. This is our promise to our partners.
Vice President Partnerships
For Agenda, the new normal means constantly being adaptive. As the way that businesses and consumers make their buying choices we have continued to adapt the way we run our show.
Experience, community and interaction are more important than ever before, and so Agenda has continued to bring new elements to allow for connection and collaboration to occur on the show floor.
While the internet has become a preferred way of shopping for many, we feel there will always be a place for the in-person experience that allows for a tactile immersion that photo and video cannot offer. Agenda was built on a foundation of creativity, and we continue to honor that by adapting to the needs, goals and vision of our creative brands. We see ourselves as the facilitators of the process of bringing the concept to closet while pushing the envelope of what is possible and driving for collective success.
The New Mart
At The New Mart we used the downtime during the pandemic to dramatically update our third-floor, 20,000-square-foot event space, where we stage trade shows including Designers and Agents during March and October L.A. Markets. Since completion, we’ve been recognized as the Fashion Hub within the DTLA Fashion District by the City of Los Angeles and have partnered with Art Hearts Fashion to stage fashion shows during L.A. Fashion Weeks.
Additionally, we created a new event during the June L.A. Market with Art Hearts Fashion called L.A. Swim Week, which was four days of exhibitions during the day followed by four nights of stunning, fully produced fashion shows featuring surf, skate and swim brands, which we plan on annualizing each June.
We believe that the new normal for apparel brands is going to increasingly revolve around creating visually compelling content, so we’ve assembled all the resources under one New Mart roof from a fully equipped Fashion Theatre with an incredible Bose sound system, 32-foot Standard Vision LED Video wall, and a complete photography and podcast studio to support our tenants and the apparel industry during these fast-changing times.
Vice President Operations
The pandemic has modified our ways of living and working. The first wave has impacted people and businesses, where we witnessed a lot of closing businesses and unemployment surged to a high level. Then it created an impact on supply chains and interrupted production.
At Première Vision we noticed a lot of new behavior with our exhibitors. Decrease in expenses, postponing or canceling shows has been the new attitude; also the pandemic has challenged traditional relationships with employees and employers with flexible work arrangements.
Today at Première Vision we try to anticipate our exhibitors’ and visitors’ needs. Digitalizing is a must, and we have been working on it for the past five years via our well-established Marketplace, which is the cement between trade shows that maintains contact through our newsletter to keep our followers informed and provide tools and trends that help brands source better.
We attach a lot of importance to our social-responsibility and sustainability programs and will carry them on down the road. We have observed there is a growing desire to source better in the material and the quality of the products. Creativity, design and quality are essential to brands as well as sustainability, traceability and circular creation.
We hope that we will greet you this year for our 50th anniversary. Our main priority is to get back to business and bring back living energy via our shows to the industry.
CEO of NHN Global dba FashionGo
As an online marketplace and digital-first trade-show organizer, FashionGo will continue to digitize traditional B2B practices to adapt to changing business trends and progress our industry with new and improved solutions focused on driving business growth.
Our new normal has been to constantly explore ways to reduce business costs that will help improve capital flows for both retailers and brands amidst the external challenges our industry faces today. The biannual online trade show FashionGo Week does this by providing a valuable platform with thousands of brands and millions of products to be easily discovered at the fingertips of retailers without the travel costs involved. The benefits of online trade shows and marketplaces will be increasingly more prevalent as businesses are turning to more-cost-effective and -efficient solutions.
We stay committed to providing powerful tools for brands and retailers to connect beyond market week. Technology tools, such as the image-based search capabilities of Style Match+ for better product and brand discovery, coupled with real-time data of the shows’ bestsellers through Best of Best, plus a secure and safe payment environment via Stripe empower attendees to make informed purchasing decisions for optimal sell-through with peace of mind.
Designers and Agents
Designers and Agents recently completed its third post-COVID season and saw numbers near pre-COVID capacity.
September and October 2021 marked the return to a live format for D&A and brought with it a tremendous sense of enthusiasm from both exhibitors and retailers. There was a renewed sense of community and an energized retail audience.
Beginning with the first post-COVID edition, D&A initiated both logistical and production pivots in order to address health and safety concerns, including new protocols for preregistration and hospitality, as well as implementing required guidelines for exhibitors and attendees. For the February and March 2022 shows, production continued to adhere and respond to the changing health protocols while keeping the community’s wellbeing at the forefront.
This past season, with the return of Japanese brands and attendees and many finding increased comfort with travel, the show dynamic felt as though it had returned to normal. Several production and logistical implementations made in response to COVID have remained as D&A continues to be mindful of the changing circumstances.
Designers and Agents is fortunate to focus on independent designers and brands who have found the way through the pandemic to stay engaged and relevant in the marketplace. Similarly, the D&A retail audience had the ability to remain relevant and accessible to their own customer base. The D&A team is continuously reviewing ways to enhance the experience for both its exhibitors and retailers while maintaining its number-one focus on bringing the best of independent fashion to the marketplace.
International Market Centers
IMC is at the forefront of positive change coming out of the challenging business environment caused by the pandemic. As part of this, we chose to look inward to improve upon the efficiency across our business processes, all of which give our customers a stronger return on their investment. Maximizing efficiency for market attendees is one of our many goals. During the height of the pandemic, we were able to conduct markets but had to prioritize the essential functions of buying and selling. So many of the hallmark Atlanta Apparel experiences—live fashion shows, education and more—were suspended. As markets returned to normal, our teams brainstormed ways to make these activities more additive to the buying experience.
As an example, IMC created bigger and better versions of our Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter fashion shows, hosting our signature events outdoors on John Portman Boulevard. Market goers lined the streets to see fashion trends curated from exhibiting brands presented against the backdrop of the city of Atlanta.
To improve sourcing efficiency for both buyers and sellers, IMC leaned into partnerships with industry-association and market organizers to expand resources in both Atlanta and Las Vegas. In October, we co-located Atlanta Apparel with the Fabric Show to create an opportunity to shop finished products and supply-chain resources all under one roof. In Las Vegas, a new partnership with Melange De Blanc expanded product options for buyers at the launch of our first-ever West Coast bridal market. Additionally, we have expanded Las Vegas Fashion Week offerings with the successful launch of our Las Vegas Apparel market.
IMC will continue to evolve our offerings so that Atlanta Apparel and Las Vegas Apparel are efficient, effective and compelling for customers.
Functional Fabric Fair
The new normal since the pandemic has been our commitment to quality. We have executed four events in the U.S. since we have come back to in-person events. Although we could have sold more space, we have never deviated from the criteria we have always held our exhibitors to, specifically as it pertains to sustainability.
Overseas travel restrictions have made our U.S. events even more attractive to our attendees and have led to the highest attendance numbers we have ever seen. As we plan for our post-pandemic events in 2023, it is not only the quality of exhibitors we intend to provide but also the quality of the content, speakers and experience we need to hold to the same high standards. Digital and remote products in the trade-show and event arena have improved so much in the last two years it is important that we raise the bar for our in-person shows.
Melissa K. Montes
As the industry continues to assimilate to a new normal, the WWIN Show is committed to customer-centricity in every experience we deliver. Over the last two years, it was made clear that buyers wanted an in-person destination to source high-quality products and trends from leading brands and private labels in apparel and accessories that offer styles for all women. They want an experience that is friendly and inspiring while highly conducive to writing orders and getting business done. We realize that through these ever-changing times, our relationship with our customers is an essential part of doing business, and we know the only way for our brand to see success is to share it with our customers.
WWIN focuses on creating efficiencies for buyers during Las Vegas Market Week with a discounted hotel block right on the Strip and an expansive hosted buyer program to deliver the right buyers directly to our exhibiting brands. We know our exhibitors and attendees have packed schedules so we are committed to offering complimentary breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments to keep everyone recharged.
We continue to expand our offerings to meet customers’ needs with a carefully merchandised show floor, including ENCLAVE, a new area for chic brands that blends sophistication and serenity, and ADORN, our growing collection of accessories.
Our team finds strength in our ability to be nimble, adapting quickly to change based on the real-time needs of our customers or new challenges within the industry. We focus on absorbing customer insight to create an event experience that is meaningful to them and not just to our bottom line. True to its strong reputation, WWIN will continue to be the place for our community to connect, foster new relationships, experience the market, garner new ideas and, most importantly, conduct business in a personal way.
President and CEO
Dallas Market Center
We are very fortunate to have grown tremendously in recent years into the largest marketplace in the U.S. for apparel and accessories. In fact, we have expanded our marketplace significantly in the last year to accommodate brands that want to exhibit in Dallas. We are also welcoming a record number of new buyers choosing to do business in Dallas.
Buyers tell us that their time is more important than ever and that they are motivated to visit a single marketplace that’s easy to work and has all of the categories of products they need. That’s why we have expanded key categories like young contemporary and footwear. We highlight leading-edge apparel and curated accessories but also promote gift, indie beauty brands and artisan items that help set us apart.
Exhibitors have noticed this shift, too. They are taking advantage of the mix of retailers from across the country and Latin America who come to Dallas—the independents, the majors, the gift stores, the Western stores and others.
There’s no stronger endorsement of our formula than the partnership we have with a business growth organization called The Boutique Hub, which supports startup boutiques to help them scale their businesses. In March 2023 they will once again hold their Boutique Summit at Dallas Market Center, welcoming more than 500 stores to get motivated, inspired and stocked up. Our retail team works hand in hand with Boutique Hub but also with thousands of retailers across the country to ensure they have a tremendous experience in Dallas.
There’s one final element of the new normal to mention and that’s our relationship with the customer. We’re still proudly family owned, and we do business person to person and handshake by handshake.
Senior Vice President and Show Director
As producers of Outdoor Retailer, we’re continually listening to the customers we serve. We approach each event with their perspectives, needs and questions in mind, which are a lot different in today’s marketplace than three years ago.
How has the pandemic changed our industry? What changes were made to business operations to survive? Are those changes relevant to today’s business environment, and should we continue to embrace them for the long term?
The pandemic has changed all of us, while also forcing more-creative thinking and the adoption of new approaches to tackling today’s economic headwinds. The outdoor industry has been navigating ever-evolving supply-chain challenges—from delays to rising costs, inventory imbalances, changing consumer habits, inflation and the list goes on. Many company leaders have pivoted how they conduct business, often adjusting both budgets and strategy day to day.
For us, it’s put the premise of attending a trade show to a true test. In some cases, we’ve seen customers step away from participation as their business changes, while others have maintained their presence at Outdoor Retailer for the stability, efficiency and connectivity it provides and leveraging their attendance in new ways that ultimately ended up growing their business. It’s important for us to be flexible alongside the businesses we serve, to be nimble and provide resources and knowledge to help them adapt and be successful.
As we prepare to move back to Salt Lake City next year, we’re adopting the same creativity as our customers. We’re offering new ways for our industry to connect with each other and also with their customers, including the introduction of consumer-focused opportunities around both our Winter and Summer events. Outdoor Retailer remains the only true gathering for the outdoor community, and we’re committed to working collaboratively with our partners and customers to meet evolving needs.
Apparel Textile Sourcing Shows
Internally and externally, the Apparel Textile Sourcing trade shows have experienced remodeling geopolitically, economically, digitally and psychologically. These factors have all led to a reduced operational staff and overhead while also placing a higher demand on dynamic, well-rounded managers.
Budgets are now analyzed microscopically, and contracts are negotiated with enhanced flexibility. ATS is closely tied to international travel, and visa processing into North America has been met with an all-time-high rate of denials and increasingly long delays, resulting in an inability to make even conservative projections to exhibition participation. The pandemic and international political strains have led to sky-high inflation, which has in turn caused the cost of vendor services to shoot up by more than 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic rates.
We’ve learned that digital is no replacement for in-person, that less is more and quality is more important than quantity. For the first time since 2019, the Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada trade show returned to physical in November. Attendance was down 30 percent, but the quality of the attendees was more significant. Attending buyers from major Canadian retail chains Roots, Walmart Canada and Simons were able to focus on a narrower base of high-quality producers.
All sourcing trade shows have been impacted by China’s strict COVID-19 travel policies for their citizens. ATSC was the first show to bring numerous Chinese business owners direct from China to exhibit in-person. Many other Chinese manufacturers sent their merchandise and had their booths staffed with local representatives. In all, ATSC 2022 hosted 13 countries and 140 exhibitors.
The bells and whistles were set to the side in 2022, but the face-to-face meetings happened, business was being written and there was a buzz around the show floor. We are excited about the future, and the future is now.
Associate Show Director
The Collective Shows continues to evolve as we search to discover what our new normal means. As our customers experienced through the pandemic, there is no better way to learn about the products they are buying than to see, feel and try it for themselves.
While we navigate the new world and put forth efforts to keep engagement at the forefront of our events, we have also begun to evaluate what the industry and our customers value the most. Sustainability and a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) within all areas of business are among key decision-making factors when organizations consider who they want to align with and support.
In addition to putting in additional efforts toward sustainability and ESG, we are working to develop a digital community to offer our current customers a way to share, engage and connect year-round.
California Market Center
Our new normal this year was inspired by our creative theme for 2022, which was “Evolve and Flourish.” As our Events & Marketing team was navigating constant change in the world of fashion trade shows and events, we were also emerging from an incredible $190 million transformation of the CMC by Brookfield Properties.
As show producers, our strategy has been rooted in collaboration over competition and aligning with partners that share these values. For example, with our LA Textile show, we have established a mutually beneficial relationship with Texworld NYC, giving our exhibitors a wonderful opportunity to showcase their products on both coasts.
For LA Fashion Market, we’ve teamed up with surrounding wholesale-showroom buildings to collaborate on initiatives to make Los Angeles a better shopping destination for retailers and buyers across the country. These partnerships reflect a spirit of creative collaboration and community that is important to the CMC.
As it relates to trends we’ve seen in the marketplace, we have taken notice of an increase in attendance for regional shows, which prompted us to increase our on-site buyer activations and initiatives. This past market we offered education, spa treatments and a sunset celebration for attendees. Our goal is to add value to a buyer’s trip beyond providing quality brands, as well as to reintroduce them to an elevated CMC experience.
Additionally, we have continued to place a large focus on sustainability. We endeavor to not purchase anything we can’t reuse, and we remain thoughtful about our signage efforts by trying to minimize the items that we print that contain specific dates. Instead, we opt for signage that can be used throughout the calendar year. This is cost saving as well as sustainable, a value consistent with the CMC’s present ethos.
The pandemic has proved the resilience of the swim industry. Swim, resort and accessory brands are truly creative and boomed incredibly during the first year of the pandemic. While everyone was staying home, swim was a category that was still very much in demand.
SwimShow used the time to connect and reevaluate the retail strategy of buyers and brands who have been with us for over 20 years, as well as highlight up-and-coming brands making big strides in sustainability to help them expand their reach. We channeled sustainability like never before, going fully digital from our marketing materials and a SwimShow app for all attendees, plus connecting brands with buyers—even the carpet on our show floor from previous seasons was something we realized couldn’t be reused and was completely wasteful. So we redesigned the show from a clean slate.
The new normal for our business is working with creative brands that seek global reach and embracing the community and efforts of our team to bring the industry under one roof. Our show has become a favorite for brands looking to activate in creative, experiential ways. Unique booths created by our veteran brands like Public Beach, Everyday Sunday and Tommy Bahama all proved that our trade-show model continues to excel by letting brands do what they do best—creating fully customized booths that bring their brand experience to life.
In 2022, we also trailblazed inclusive spaces by highlighting brands making big strides in sustainability with the inaugural edition of SwimLab, done with our trend-forecasting partner, WGSN. From panel discussions to new show categories, buyers and press were able to see our transformation during the last couple of years from our creative rebranding to our commitment to forward-thinking patterns that align with what buyers want to see.
Mary T. Taft
Fashion Market Northern California
Fashion Market Northern California has been lucky to have transitioned well into the new post-pandemic trade-show world. We had our first show at the Embassy Suites in San Francisco in January 2021 and are just finishing our second full year for 10 shows total. The newly remodeled hotel has been a wonderful venue for our exhibitors as well as buyers, with so many more amenities than we had to offer at our previous location. As an organization, the pandemic forced us to look at new ways of doing business.
We have overcome every challenge quickly so as not to lose momentum with exhibitors or our buyers. We have added complimentary valet parking on Sunday and Monday to make it much easier and convenient for our buyers. We offer free buffet lunch to both buyers and exhibitors, which brings both parties together in a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Because of the great rate we offer at the hotel, many of our buyers choose to stay the night, so in 2023 we will take it a step further by offering Sunday-night entertainment for another opportunity to come together and catch up.
What we appreciate the most is the loyalty and commitment that our buyers continue to show us throughout the year.
For Surf Expo, we realize that the key to a successful event is maximizing the connection between our buyers and sellers. This has always been our mission and will continue to be into the future. We are constantly looking at how we can help facilitate those connections before, during and after the event so we continue to strengthen and hone the tools and services we provide our customers.
Not only have we invested in providing matchmaking tools, lead retrieval and continued expansion of our Elastic Suit B2B platform but our buyer relations team also works to maintain specific buyer-to-brand ratios at the category level, which delivers the highest satisfaction as well as allowing us to address the needs of our customers.
The combination of strategic brand and buyer growth, along with providing a strong set of tools to allow our exhibitors and retailers to communicate and connect, has allowed us to control costs while maintaining satisfaction and raising ROI efficiently and effectively.
There is no question that the past few years have brought a tremendous amount of friction and pressure down on the industry, and the new normal has been incredibly hard to pin down in order to proceed forward with it.
However, with all the watershed changes we have experienced, some of the self-evident truths of business remain the same and in many ways have become more important now than ever. At ILOE Studios, we have refocused on the personal connections that actually make our industry work. It is not about filling the show floor at all costs but is about creating and nurturing business relationships by connecting relevant brands to the right buyers in order to drive business in these uncertain times.
Additionally, we have made sure our team is more omnipresent and connected to our customers—brands, buyers, industry professionals and the like—more than ever before. We are proactive and seek feedback that ensures we will always be meeting the current needs at the time they are needed. We’ve also put emphasis on creating processes that provide resources to help wholesalers and retail stores navigate into the future successfully.
- Trade-Show Q&A: What shifts or advancements in trade-show production are you most looking forward to over the coming year?
- With trade shows returning to in-person, what additional amenities are you offering to exhibitors and attendees, and what developments over the last two years are you maintaining?
- Trade-Show Q&A: As on-site event restrictions are being lifted, how are you approaching trade-show production, and will you utilize virtual options to extend your reach?
- The Crystal Ball Outlook for Trade Shows