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Beyond the Runway: Fashion Week vs. Tradeshows

Behind the Fashion Scenes: Fashion Week vs. Tradeshows

Twice a year, heavy hitters of the fashion world gather to debut and preview the new spring and fall collections. Buyers, designers, salespeople, and the press converge while fans try to get a peek as new styles are shown and new trends spotted. But depending on who you talk to, this important twice-yearly gathering could be either fashion week or major tradeshow season. Is one more important than the other? And why does their timing result in fashion heads being at one and not the other?

New York Fashion Week, now known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, is what the public generally thinks of when following collection premieres, designer launches, and new runway trends. Fashion Week marks each fashion season in the U.S. and sets the fashion calendar for stores and the media. Magazine editors, celebrities, and now fashion bloggers are invited and photographed checking out top designer clothing presentations. Surrounding the headline runway shows at Lincoln Center, formerly at the tents at Bryant Park, are peripheral collection showings ranging from runway shows to still-model stagings to designer meet and greets to showroom appointments. Even if not showing at the official NYFW venue, designers, salespeople, and publicists scramble to get their lines seen during peak viewing time: before buyer’s dollars are spent and editorial features filled. With the draw of the major designer shows and events, NYFW outshines the smaller Los Angeles Fashion Week and is a player on the international fashion stage each season.

Tradeshows, while lesser known to end consumers, also contain major showings of fashion collections. In the U.S., the MAGIC tradeshows in Las Vegas are the biggest in the industry, not only because of their steady history of existence but also because of buyer, press, and brand attendance to the nine show categories under the MAGIC name and coordinated seminars, parties, and other events. Like NYFW, MAGIC is the force that brings together so many fashionistas and smaller tradeshows and other fashion showings feed off the timing of the shows as designers show their collections outside of the MAGIC shows. Outside of the booths within MAGIC, runway shows and more intimate presentations supplement the buzz and commerce on the main show floors. While the focus of the tradeshows is to connect buyers and wholesalers, both trade and mainstream press are invited and treated specially as each line fights for a chance to be seen and covered, and ultimately sold to the audience they want.

Both NYFW and the Las Vegas tradeshows are important times for the business and show of U.S. fashion. It makes sense they occur around the same time, however, it seems odd to me they often directly overlap. Some lines show at both NYFW and MAGIC, but especially with the recent economy, many brands and collections choose only one city and venue to present at. With the range of lines showing at either New York or Las Vegas, equivalent and like buyers and editors are wanted in attendance and said buyers and editors need to see the latest from the best lines to be at the top of their game with the best fashion picks. Neither event is more important than the other. They each have their own emphases and draw fashionistas that correspond to the designers showing at each.

But the fashionistas interested in NYFW or MAGIC heavily overlap and aren’t able to attend both. Beyond the major editors and buyers that must choose where they will be, the trendsetters each brand wants following them and associated with their line can only travel to one city at a time. While many of the event attendees may be local, the fashion-forward marketing assistants working at the Las Vegas tradeshows are the same gals who follow their magazines and designers and photographers want to photograph at launch parties with brand logos in the background. With so much overlap and so much potential at both New York Fashion week and the MAGIC tradeshows, I would think the fashion industry would be better coordinated to plan the events around each other or at least support those with strong needs to show at or view both. Each season I’m shocked there isn’t better coordination and wonder if I’m off on my thoughts here. What are your thoughts?

Image Layout: new M.I.S.S. crew member Christina!

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