Oh boy. I don’t even know how to introduce Trudy who’s doing the heavy lifting today. Let’s just say she’s a real live wire. Before Trudy started -on a whim, she was bored- her retail pattern line (Hot Patterns), she designed and manufactured bridal wear in the UK with her husband Jeremy for many years. She claims they moved to Florida from the UK for the balmy weather but it’s just as likely they kicked her out; she and Jeremy are quite the pair. I’ve included a photo of her with Eric at close. Anyway, here’s Trudy, part one of three.
So let me ‘fess up right away and explain that, not only was I a Las Vegas virgin, this was also my first time at any garment trade show in the USA. I’ve shown at and attended many garment shows-both trade and consumer-in the UK, so I was really interested to see how the Las Vegas shows differed from my previous experiences.
My business here produces sewing patterns for the home-sewing market, so strictly speaking I didn’t need to attend for that…but I also do some design and production consultancy work for a few small companies, some of whom may want to show at some of these shows in the near future. So really, I went to the shows to walk them, have a mooch about and see what the general mood was …and not, as
Kathleen some unkind souls have suggested, have a few days away from wrangling the babies, dealing with the domestic grind and banging away at the PC. And no Jeremy, I didn’t just spend my time hanging out and gossiping with the FI crew. Heaven forbid!
Let’s start with WWIN, shall we? I hit this one on Monday, the first day. This show was at the Rio hotel (frankly a much nicer hotel that the Stratosphere where I stayed), and from the get-go, this was a smooooothly run show. Speedy and painless registration, helpful and charming show staff, everyone smiley and plenty of buyers ready to rock the order pads. Even nicer was the free coffee and continental breakfast station, helpfully placed smack in the middle of the main corridor that linked the various (big) rooms. Suitably caffeined-up I started at the room farthest away and worked my way back to the entrance (go against the flow, you get to see and chat to more vendors before they get swamped later on).
I thought that this was a great show; small enough to be intimate but big enough to attract plenty of buyers. Chatting to buyers and vendors outside (hot tip…if you don’t smoke, fake it for these shows…more gossip, business and info comes your way when you’re outside sneaking a quick cigarette than you can imagine!) I heard that this show was quieter than previous ones, but that buyers were still spending, just being more cautious in their purchases and less likely to chance it with a brand new company. There was a good mix of bigger and smaller companies, shoes, bags and jewelry as well as the expected garment vendors. Lots of companies offered plus-sizes (at least their signs on the booths said so) and petites, and as this show was really marketed towards the smaller, independent stores, with their wide customer demographic, I’m thinking that offering these options-or even specializing in plus, tall or petite sizes-might be a good idea for a DE showing here.
Bear in mind also that buyers are looked after here-not to the extent that they’ve got luxe facilities and freebies (they don’t) but entry is free (always a good idea) and I can tell you that at WWIN, There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch: (grilled chicken Caesar for me, but sandwiches and veggie options too)…this sounds so pathetic but honestly, if your buyers can grab a free (and reasonably OK) lunch they are much more likely to stay at the show. If they have to go off-site to eat it’s so easy for them to say, screw it, I’m done for today, let’s hit the pool/bar/casino (this is, after all, ‘Vegas, baby) and come back tomorrow –if they come back at all. No no, you want those buyers there for the duration, so the free lunch and chilled water stations in the rooms really helps.
On the down-side, I really didn’t see too much actual ‘fashion’ here, apart from a few stand-out booths. The majority of the garments I saw were pretty generic, so lots of vendors selling very simple (actually some quite yawn-making) shapes but in a few different color/print options. The impression I got was that buyers shopped here for steady, middle-of-the-road ranges that they could repeat throughout the season. Pricing was important-more so than usual. Of course, that’s great for those of us who don’t want to do fashion-y ranges, but if your range is more directional, then this show would probably be a big fat disappointment for you.
Just across the car lot from WWIN was the Kids Show (with a golf-cart shuttle from WWIN to the Kids Show…WHAAAATTTT???? I know the shows are tiring and if you’re infirm or disabled then of course you need this but good grief! It’s a 100 yard stroll at best! WALK damn it.)
Anyway…the Kids’ Show is housed in a big white tent (another hot tip-use the bathrooms at the Rio, as the…ahem…facilities at Kids’ Show are in a Port-a-Potty outside. So not my favorite thing…) and once again, smiley and helpful show staff. Just like WWIN, it’s free to get in-in fact, no registration was required if you were wearing your WWIN badge, so a quick and easy entry to this one. Not as busy as WWIN, but chatty and charming vendors and a nice mix of products, this time mainly from smaller DE companies. The impression I got here was that, if you’d done your pre-show work well (setting up appointments and meetings with potential buyers beforehand) then you’d do OK here. If you just turned up here ‘hoping’ to get business I really think that you’d have struggled. And I have to say, although I saw some truly gorgeous ranges at Kids’ Show, there was also some bad bad fashion…I accept that I have a personal loathing of children’s hooker-wear, but honestly! There was some horrible blinged-out junk suitable only for aspiring street walkers. I certainly won’t be buying a sparkly rhinestone-encrusted t-shirt that says “My Mommy’s A Ho” (yes, Aristo-Brats, I’m looking at you) for my princess, but I guess someone out there will.
To round up the first day, I met the lovely Malia for cocktails at the Bellagio (darlings! Soooo fashion-y!) then we headed off for an early dinner at the Venetian. Malia (who is clearly made of stronger stuff than I) was last seen mosey-ing through the rather plush shopping mall at the Venetian, chatting merrily on her cell to her SO, whilst I staggered off to my not-so-fabulous hotel to rest my poor sore feet and get some sleep. Because the next day would be Magic…
Here’s the photo of Trudy with Eric. Trudy’s on the left. I deliberately didn’t crop the beer bottle from the photo. She can handle it, although she better not start complaining about not being able to get a date (like April and Lameka) because of my cruddy photo.