The verdict is in and it’s overwhelming: in-person trade shows are good for the soul and will be stronger than ever this summer! Here, a few comments on three recent fall 2021 men’s notes. (Although this COVID-phobic editor hasn’t moved from her kitchen table for the past year, I’m hoping to be back at the summer shows once vaccinated, and can’t wait to see my industry friends. Out of sight but never out of mind!)
Says Murry Penner from M Penner in Houston, “The Dallas show really fed my optimism: it was an extremely important event in our healing process. You can’t imagine how exciting it was for vendors and retailers alike just to see each other, much less work with actual product. There’s no doubt that what we buy from this show will be more successful and more curated than the virtual buys. (Although we’ll have plenty of that, too.)”
According to stats from the Dallas Men’s Show, this latest edition, held January 30-February 2, was the biggest in more than a decade, with buyer attendance up 180 percent over the previous year, and more than 25 percent of attendees making a first visit. Retailers came from 32 states (and from international destinations) to shop an expanded array of traditional and contemporary collections. The next Dallas Men’s Show is July 31-August 2.
“The thing I love most about coming to the Men’s Show is that everything is concentrated in one place, it’s easy access, easy registration, easy getting in and out of showrooms,” said Michael Malouf, owner of Malouf’s in Southlake, Texas.
Steve Allton of Allton’s in Edmond, Oklahoma was among the buyers intent on ordering to restock their stores and eager to see new products firsthand. “I caught up with all my friends around the country, looked at new product, and pulled more vendors than ever before,” he said. “I couldn’t run my business without coming to market in Dallas.”
Dan Kocks from MS McClellan also praised the Dallas show, citing powerful product from Brax, Baldessari, Waterville, Stenstroms, Teleria, Fradi, and Barbera. “They all showed many cool items and most are happy to let you ‘cherry-pick’ for compelling items (vest, quilts, loungewear, hoodies, and joggers). Jack Victor looked particularly impressive, especially in outerwear.”
Katie at Stantt was one of many satisfied exhibitors. “The team at the Dallas Market Center put on an amazing show. It was great to catch up with old customers and introduce new ones to what we do. There was consistent (busy!) traffic every day; we saw stores from every territory. We had lots of traction with our new trouser program and stores continued to reach for more casual options with performance, knits, and flannels.”
Jim Sweeney from the Southern Clothing Market also reported a successful show in Charlotte: 170 vendors representing more than 300 lines. “Despite the pandemic, we held the show so retailers could find out what’s going on,” he explained. “Retailers need to talk to other retailers. They need to find out what’s working and what’s selling. They need to know if their orders are going to get shipped. I cannot tell you how many retailers have come up to me and thanked us–the Men’s Apparel Club of the Carolinas (MAC) organization–for having the show. Although retailers are of course concerned about business, most remain optimistic. The attitude is that they’ll figure out a way.” (The next Charlotte show dates are August 7 thru 9, with Friday, August 6 as an optional day.)
Menswear rep Bruce Wender was thrilled with the great reaction to his recently launched Sharp Lad collection shown at the Charlotte show. “Buyers loved the new models in double melange colors with suede details and tortoise zipper pulls. Our first season (fall 2020) was very encouraging: we delivered all our orders on time, sold out to the piece, and our retail customers reported great sell-throughs. Not bad for a new company launching during a pandemic!”
Wender also reps 34 Heritage and cited strong bookings in twills and urban-washed denim, all soft comfort fabrics with texture and stretch. Hot colors were insignia blue, tobacco, pewter, and grey.
Lauren Vestal, the founder of Memphis Prime, was delighted with their first-ever show and has confirmed dates for the next one: July 25-27. Said Ken Shaia of Shaia’s, “I’m so grateful that Memphis opened its door to us. I was able to see top brands and find a few new ones. Great work environment and great brands.” And from Hal Lansky at Lansky’s, “We were thrilled when Lauren Vestal’s vision of bringing a regional men’s tradeshow came to fruition in January. The venue at Central Station (a hip new hotel in an old train station) was the perfect spot for a great mix of vendors and upscale stores. To kick off the event, brand reps gave a brief review of their season’s offerings and we were able to then work comfortably and safely.”
And from Tyler Hampton at Hampton’s, “My experience at the inaugural Memphis Prime show was one that will not be forgotten! The smaller setting allowed me to work with my existing vendors as well as explore new ones, all without being rushed like at some of the larger shows. On top of that, the Central Station Hotel was an awesome venue! I look forward to attending next season!”
With widespread vaccinations expected to make travel, socializing, and shopping a lot safer, menswear business should pick up considerably in months to come. More Trade Show Talk to follow; see you at the shows!