The Year in Trade Shows

During the 2019 trade-show circuit, some event producers scaled down while others expanded their programs or teamed up through collaborations that would entice attendees to get down to business. From coast to coast, apparel-industry trade-show producers planned changes or were forced to alter their programs due to unforeseen weather patterns or shifts in attendee demand.

The January schedule was off to a bright, sunny beginning for show producer Emerald Expositions with Swim Collective and Active Collective at Anaheim, Calif.’s Anaheim Convention Center and Surf Expo at the Orlando, Fla., Orange County Convention Center. While the August editions of Swim Collective and Active Collective proved successful, the September installment of Surf Expo was canceled due to fierce weather from Hurricane Dorian. Dangerous weather also forced the closures of Waterfest and the Imprinted Sportswear Show, which was scheduled to run concurrently with Surf Expo. Following the cancelations of these Emerald events, the company announced on Sept. 18 that Nikki Houston Duroe would lead Surf Expo as show director.

One show that saw a lot of movement in 2019 was the streetwear-centric Agenda. With its consumer-facing show Agenda Festival canceled by ReedPop, the show’s producer and a division of Reed Exhibitions, the trade-focused event also saw a number of changes. Following a move that led Agenda to host its February trade show in downtown Las Vegas, the event returned to the Sands Expo & Convention Center for its August run. In December, Reed Exhibitions sold the brand to Toronto-based AZTQ Corp. after producing the show for six years. Despite this change, the new parent company retained Show Director Tony Shellman, who has fulfilled the role since July 2018.

“It’s back to basics,” Shellman told California Apparel News. “We’re building a show where brands can create dollars and cents. People will be able to enjoy themselves. But they will be able to get some work done.”

During the August edition of the Las Vegas trade shows, which feature events hosted by Informa Markets’ MAGIC brand, Liberty Fairs, Agenda, OffpriceIFJAG, and WWIN, a newcomer offered an alternative to the larger events that dominate. Launched by Gerry Murtagh, CALA Las Vegas provided a more intimate setting for buyers to enjoy a boutique trade-show experience.

“What was going to be a 20-minute stop turned into two hours, and there are good lines here that people should be aware of,” said Jill Elliott, owner of the Fredericksburg, Texas, shop Haberdashery. “I anticipated writing one line and leaving, but I wrote three lines from one exhibitor, I wrote Ronen Chen and another line from India, and I haven’t finished.”

The performance-and-active segment saw a healthy amount of expansion through new show launches and collaborations. A joint venture by Première Vision Sport and The Northwest Materials Show afforded greater options for attendees seeking a one-stop-shopping option for athletic apparel and footwear. The new show was hosted at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland in August.

“We attracted brands from all over the world—LacosteLululemonColumbiaNike SwimPerry EllisHannah AndersonBrooks RunningSkechers and Deckers,” Hisham Muhareb, founder of The Material Show’s parent company, American Events, Inc., said. “A lot of brands are looking to get away from plastics and petrol materials toward more-sustainable and eco products such as foam from algae.”

Reed Exhibitions, the United Kingdom-based show producer, launched its Pacific Northwest edition of Functional Fabric Fair—powered by Performance Days at the Oregon Convention Center in October. The performance-specific trade show was introduced to provide an intimate atmosphere in which active brands could focus on forging supply-chain partnerships that speak to their apparel category.

“It was exciting because it was focused on performance textiles. Performance Days in Munich have adopted that model very successfully, and now we have our own performance-textile show in the States,” said David Parkes, founder of the Red Bank, N.J.–headquartered performance-textile manufacturer Concept iii. “The performance-textile industry needs a show of this nature. The outdoor and active industries are huge industries in the States. When you look at brands like PatagoniaThe North FaceAdidas, and Lululemon—it’s huge.”

As summer began to wind down, Outdoor Retailer announced the cancelation of its November Winter Market. On Aug. 21, Outdoor Retailer revealed the merger of its Winter Market and Snow Show as a Jan. 29–31 event to be held in Denver.

“When we positioned Winter Market at the front of the buying season, it was in response to our community,” Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer’s senior vice president and show director, said in a statement at the time. “Through ongoing feedback, it has become clear that one combined winter show in January will best support brands, retailers and reps, leading to greater value for all in attendance.”

As the winter-sports season arrived, more news in this market made headlines when the Park City, Utah, nonprofit trade association Snowsports Industry America announced its acquisition of two consumer-focused shows. On Nov. 15, the organization announced that it had acquired the Boston and Denver editions of the Ski & Snowboard Expo from BEWI Productions, Inc. A focus on a consumer-based approach falls in line with an apparel-industry trend for emerging brands to favor an initial direct-to-consumer business approach.

“Consumer expos create experiential and direct interactions with winter-sports enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts,” SIA President Nick Sargent said at the time of the acquisition. “These expos are intended to benefit suppliers, specialty retailers, and all industry stakeholders equally. We look forward to building on the legacy and tradition that the BEWI shows have come to represent while unveiling a new, modern, consumer-oriented approach to this celebration of winter.”

Courtesy of Apparel News Report