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American Trade Shows

UK stores hunting for something different and brands looking to expand their horizons are going to America

Deciding which trade shows to visit is becoming more difficult. Where will you find new stockists and new brands? How can you get ahead of the competition? One way is to look beyond the usual destinations.

During the recent autumn 14 buying season, growing numbers of brands and buying teams were found to be making the trip to the US.

Although a costly expedition, US shows are a way to differentiate yourself. And it’s not just big names that attend. Here’s what a selection of brands and buyers had to say.

BUYERS

  • Reem Clothing, streetwear etailer
  • Simon Choen, owner

What US trade shows did you visit?

Liberty, Capsule, Agenda, Magic and Project in Las Vegas.

Why visit?

These are the most relevant to the market we are in. What I like about Vegas is that it’s all about selling clothes. There are no big stands or security forces to get through, everyone is equal and it’s all about business.

Was it worth it?

Any show that opens your eyes to different fashions and a set of different brands will always set you apart from the rest. The trip was definitely worth it as the young fashion sector is so heavily influenced at the moment by US streetwear.

What European shows did you visit?

I didn’t attend a European show as I felt that they were all becoming stale.

  • Donna Ida four-store women’s denim indie in London
  • Donna Ida Thornton, owner

What US trade show did you visit?

Coterie in New York.

Why visit?

There is the opportunity to find new things that aren’t in all the London showrooms. It’s a point of difference. It’s hard work, but worth it. Even from a denim point of view there are a lot of styles shown in New York that don’t make it to London.

Was it worth it?

Sometimes it hasn’t been but this season it was - I found some great new things for autumn 14.

I loved how strong the Coterie show was. I loved a lot that I saw.

What European shows did you visit? Which were best?

We go to Tranoï in Paris. Paris is always fun and exciting and it’s becoming more important. Both European and US shows are important to Donna Ida.

  • Topman
  • Laura Southern, senior buyer, concessions

What US trade show did you visit?

Agenda, Liberty and Capsule in Las Vegas.

Why visit?

Because it seemed to be the trip where all the key events were showing together, making it easy to get an overview. The streetwear offer is amazing. It allows you to understand key trends and brands in one trip.

Was it worth it?

Very much so. It was great to catch up with existing brands, as well as scout for new ones.

What European shows did you visit? Which were best?

Seek, Bright and Bread & Butter in Berlin. To be honest both trips had a varied portfolio of brands with a good mix of emerging talent and established brands.

  • Asos
  • Tim Williams, men’s streetwear buyer

What US trade shows did you visit?

Las Vegas for Agenda, Capsule, Liberty, Magic and Project.

Why visit?

For streetwear, which is the season’s most relevant and biggest event with five shows over the week.

Was it worth it?

The show is attended by buyers from around the world, so it’s important we are represented. From a streetwear perspective, it was hugely beneficial and was good for searching for new and exciting brands.

What European shows did you visit? Which were best?

Berlin for Bright, Bread & Butter, and Jacket Required in London. Jacket Required was my favourite in terms of atmosphere, but the US was better hands down for streetwear. It’s such a US trend and with the scope of brands out there it’s something you can’t get in Europe.

  • Stuarts London, menswear retailer in shepherd’s bush, London
  • Ravi Grewal, director

What US trade shows did you visit?

I pretty much did them all as it was my first time over there for the shows. I really went out for Agenda, Capsule and Liberty.

Why visit?

If the budget allows a visit it’s always worth the experience.

Was it worth it?

Liberty and Capsule were the best by far, and where I found a couple of new brands. Some very interesting knitwear was there from Canada, but by the time it lands in the UK and import duties are calculated it was just too expensive to sell over here. If you haven’t been it’s worth the trip.

What European shows did you visit? Which were best?

Capsule Paris and Pitti Uomo. I prefer the European shows as they are more tuned in to our market. If you’re looking for new denim brands from Los Angeles or New York then the US shows are worth doing.

BRANDS

  • New Love Club, young fashion brand
  • Aaron Colaco, director

What US trade show did you exhibit at?

Agenda New York and Las Vegas.

Why exhibit?

Over the past year we’ve had a fair bit of international interest and expanded into new global territories. We wanted to invite existing customers as well as acquiring new ones to come and see our new collection.

Was it worth it?

Yes, we acquired new contacts, mainly in the US, Japan, the Far East and Australia, but also a few in Europe. We were happy to experience what Agenda had to offer, but the market was more urban than we were expecting.

  • Matchless, motorcycle lifestyle brand
  • Michele Malenotti, marketing and business expansion director

What US trade show did you exhibit at?

Project, Las Vegas

Why exhibit?

We are very familiar with the US and how delicate the distribution is when launching a brand - Project was the ideal platform
to introduce ourselves to key retailers from all over the country.

Was it worth it?

The show was great - very productive with lots of buyers, although the last day was very slow.

  • Criminal Damage, streetwear brand
  • Jas Aytan, director

What US trade show did you exhibit at?

Agenda, Las Vegas.

Why exhibit?

Agenda is the most concentrated and influential streetwear platform in the US. There is no better trade show to showcase
your brand. The sheer volume of customers that walk through the floors of Agenda is phenomenal.

Was it worth it?

We picked up a major distributor for Criminal Damage, which was the objective of showing at Agenda. The first two days were fantastic for walk-through customers, where we got the chance to introduce the range to new accounts. The final day consisted of meetings with multiples and majors.

  • Charli London, womenswear brand
  • Sabina Ebrahim, UK and international sales manager

What US trade show did you exhibit at?

Coterie, New York

Why exhibit?

To raise brand awareness in the US.

Was it worth it?

Yes, we took orders from 25 new US clients that were all independent and speciality stores. The show was a success for us, although there was a decline in international non-US buyer attendance.

  • Native Youth, short-order menswear brand
  • Ash Kumar, founder and creative director

What US trade show did you exhibit at?

Capsule New York and Las Vegas

Why exhibit?

We continue to show at Capsule for a couple of key reasons - the mix of brands is always very carefully put together and the
calibre of stores that walk the show is second to none.

Was it worth it?

Both shows were busy, even the New York edition despite the snow. Capsule affords us a fantastic opportunity to service the majority of our accounts as well as open new accounts with very select stores.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Thierry BAYLE

    Being specialised in the USA market as I had to set up a business there, what buyers may like very much is
    * Brands which are not distributed in Europe ie giving you a competitive edge + better margin as nobody or few sell that brand
    * Brands that sometimes over 4/6/8 or even 10 delivery groups over the year. You cannot afford as an independent to rely on fresh goods only from jan to march and july to sept - that is old school

    Of course you want to look into shipping, currency exchange, duty to ensure you are able to make it work for you in your boutique. Feel free to ask if you need help.

    The same way you prepare yourself for an appointment, you want to prepare yourself before you head to the US: which shows, which brands to target, set up the appointments as many US buyers do that ... Think about bringing the US goods during the month when European brands have nothing to ship.

    Happy Retailing.

    Thierry Bayle

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  • Interesting comments about the EU shows becoming stale.

    Working with a big US lifestyle brand I can see that for us, the traditional distributor/wholesale model is failing in the UK and whilst supporting key accounts, we are focusing more on end user retail which is better for the us: ie margins, global brand presence, consumer engagement etc.

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  • The USA is so far behind the times in product terms that it's like stepping into a time machine. However I would agree that the EU is stale and could do with a fresh approach.

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