by Karen Alberg Grossman

As trade show season approaches and competition intensifies for retailers’ time and travel budgets, show directors are going all out to provide the ultimate trade show experience. Improved perks include provocative educational seminars and panels, new networking opportunities, fabulous cocktail parties and endless avenues to discover new brands. Far from over, trade shows are being brilliantly reinvented. Five directors explain how.

Donnie Wechsler, Park Lane Hotel Show, July 19-23

Widely considered the “civilized” trade show option in NYC, we’ve reorganized to make this the best hotel show experience possible, for both vendors and retailers.

For vendors, we do a lot of hand-holding to help them plan their setup and make it easy and convenient. We even help them make appointments since appointments are critical to the success of any trade show, especially a hotel show. Even exhibitors with New York showrooms have found that it pays to present at the Park Lane: For less than $3,100, a vendor can join us in a centralized location that attracts top retailers and ensures that they get to work more accounts. The more accounts vendors see the more productive the show is for them.

For retailers, we’ve selected a warm, welcoming, upscale location that allows them to make the best use of their time in NYC, which has been diminishing over the years. Retailers, especially the independents, are not only watching expenses these days but they’re also contending with declining volume when they’re out of their stores. They can easily work several lines at the Park Lane in the same time it takes to get to and from Javits, or to and from showrooms around the city. Our July 2019 show at the Park Lane will feature almost 100 top menswear collections.

Lizette Chin, Project/MRKET, NYC July 21-23; Las Vegas Aug. 12-14

We have some really exciting news and enhanced programming for the upcoming PROJECT + MRKET New York fashion trade event.

The two new initiatives that we’re introducing are “PROJECTION”, a new brand showcase, and Made in Italy where we evolve our partnership with the Italian Trade Commission to bring the best of Italian men’s fashion and culture to life.

The PROJECTION installation is a unique space where we provide an innovative visual highlight of new brands and special product launches. This will give our retailers what they’ve been asking for—a place where they can find what’s new, right at the entrance so they can better map their routes.

We’ve teamed up with Italian style aficionado Karl-Edwin Guerre (@guerreisms) and MR’s Stephen Garner to host the live fashion presentations that acclaimed stylist Michael Macko will be producing. Other experiences onsite that will engage our community includes panel discussions, visual photography displays and delightful Italian treats throughout the three days of the show.

We’re also bringing back the PROJECT & MRKET Awards in three distinct categories: Best in Show, Best Emerging Brand, and Best Booth Presentation. N:OW Forum offers a spectrum of presentations and panel discussions headed by trend forecasting agency WGSN and Highsnobiety to provide compelling insider perspectives on fashion topics as well as an array of networking opportunities and mixers for our vendors, retailers, and guests to mingle in a relaxed environment over beer, wine and light bites.

For Las Vegas, Aug. 12-14, our ONE MAGIC initiative means all our communities are hosted under one roof inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. This blending of footwear into the overall mix means buyers can finally shop men’s apparel, accessories, and footwear in a single location.

Sharifa Murdock, Liberty Fairs, NYC July 22-24; Las Vegas Aug. 12-14

For this upcoming show season, Liberty Fairs will be returning to Pier 94 in New York and making its much-anticipated return to the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. We’ll be bringing in the best of the best in the world of men’s contemporary, classic, sportswear, and streetwear collections as well as apothecary and grooming, which we’ve become known for. We’re proud to share that brands such as C.P. Company, Fila, AG Jeans, as well as Hudson, will be returning to our New York and Las Vegas markets. Additionally, we’re thrilled to welcome Nifty Genius, Project X Paris, Scotch & Soda and many more to our brand roster. We’re so excited for what this show season will bring; it will truly be a must-attend event for the global fashion community!

Dee Jones, Dallas Men’s Show, July 27-29

The Dallas Market Center will have its largest men’s show to date. Welcoming back the best brands in men’s apparel, accessories, and footwear, this will be a record-setting summer edition of the Dallas Men’s Show, featuring new showrooms and collections in addition to returning top brands and events. The show presents a larger-than-ever selection of traditional and contemporary menswear on the 8th and 15th floors of the World Trade Center and includes new leases and renewals adding up to nearly 3,000-square-feet of permanent showrooms plus new temporary exhibitors.

Among the new showrooms on the 7th floor in the World Trade Center, Freestone Sales will offer Vineyard Vines and True Grit. Plus new lines in the temp neighborhood will include The Normal Brand, Rock Monkey Outfitters, Samuel Hubbard, Southern Proper, Spazio, Stitch Apparel and S. Cohen. These new brands join returning exhibitors including Johnston & Murphy, Tommy Bahama, Lacoste, Barbour, Madison Creek Outfitters, Southern Marsh, Fish Hippie, Jack Victor, Samuelsohn, Martin Dingman, Peerless, Tallia, and many more.

The show will feature hospitalities such as complimentary daily breakfast and lunch and a buyers’ lounge for relaxation. In addition, the much-anticipated Men’s Show opening night party will be in the World Trade Center’s 15th-floor sky lounge with sweeping downtown views, music, food, cocktails, and a legendary party theme.

Bruce Schedler, Chicago Collective, Aug. 4-6

I’m excited about the upcoming Chicago Collective! It’s virtually sold out at 368 exhibitors, which is where we want to be. We’re not trying to be the biggest show in the country, just the best. We can’t get any bigger and we’re happy with the intimacy and camaraderie our size show encourages.

I’m especially grateful to our parent company for helping us survive some tenuous times and come back stronger than ever. I believe many of the strategic moves we’ve implemented over recent years have made a big difference, especially the buyer rebate program, which created a great group of core supporters.

The other important initiative lately is traveling to stores around the country to get to know the retailers we hope to recruit. We’ve gotten aggressive about travel—one store at a time—as it definitely helps form relationships. Our Outreach Program also extends to Europe; recent trips to Pitti Uomo have resulted in a strong response from Italian, British and German exhibitors. So, from a regional show with local reps, the Chicago Collective has evolved into a national/international powerhouse featuring owners and top execs of the world’s best menswear brands.

In addition to our big outdoor party on the first night of the show (with special surprises this year), we will continue with all the little things our customers love: the Bloody Mary bar, the evening cocktails, the wine sponsor, the scotch sponsor, the UK spirit of choice (most recently Hendricks gin), and much, much more.