Trade Show Secrets Straight from NYC Fashion Week

Are you one of the “in” crowd in the fashion industry? If so, you’re undoubtedly one of the 232,000 of these stylish folk that flock to the Big Apple every February and September to discover the latest trends at New York Fashion Week events. Celebrities, bloggers, fashion retailers, and designers swarm the city to soak up the atmosphere and learn about the next “big thing.” The star-studded guest lists and outfits grab headlines, but you won’t read the trade show secrets in the papers. Here’s what fashion week can teach you about trade shows.

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                  Image via Flickr by Dilia Oviedo

NYC Fashion Week Increases Brand Recognition

The rise of fashion blogging and photo-sharing social media sites means fashion weeks don’t dictate style trends the way they used to. However, participating in trade shows during New York Fashion Week remains an excellent way to increase brand recognition.

James Fallon, the editor of fashion news site Women’s Wear Daily, says a fashion week presence often translates into sales of a variety of goods. He says the ‘name buzz’ generated by fashion weeks typically sends sales figures of lower-priced items soaring, especially for accessory products like fragrances and makeup.

These items are difficult to showcase on the catwalks, but perfect for trade shows. These industry events get these more accessible designer items in front of buyers and suppliers. Also remember to include handbags and shoes in your trade show booths, as these accessories account for between 65 and 75 percent of all fashion items sold. Thinking beyond apparel can boost your bottom line.

NYC Fashion Week Gets the Industry Talking

While fashion weeks no longer hold absolute power in defining trends, events like those in New York can shape public opinion of designer brands and collections.

Once upon a time, only magazine journalists and newspaper columnists were invited to New York Fashion Week. However, today increasing numbers of bloggers and social media mavens gain media accreditation. More still attend shows as the special guests of their favorite designers. Without editors to delay or dilute their reports, they’re free to post and tweet frank accounts of fashion week events as they unfold.

Runway shows are their most popular targets, but many of these powerful online voices are happy to attend any event that will see them rubbing shoulders with the fashion industry’s elite. Research the most popular fashion blogs and Twitter accounts and invite your favorite creators to attend the trade shows as your special guests.

These relationships will likely see your products showcased favourably, as most attendees prefer to focus on the positive aspects of their fashion week experience. Online articles are permanent and often referenced after New York Fashion Week, so they can be excellent long-term marketing tools.iPad for trade show interactive digital media

It’s not just the media talking either. A 2010 report showed almost half of New York Fashion Week participants discussed the festival’s events on Twitter. Public relations gurus, designers, models, and runway show guests all aired their views and shared photographs about their fashion week experiences in real-time. More recently, the hashtag #MBFW was used on Twitter 43,679 times between February 4 and 13, 2013. The even more popular hashtag #NYFW was used 370,872 times during this nine-day period.

Savvy trade show vendors will join the online buzz by regularly updating a range of social media profiles. By adding popular New York Fashion Week hashtags to your social networking posts, you can increase your audience. More than a third of social network users already use hashtags to search and follow categories they’re interested in and that number is sure to increase as hashtags gain greater recognition.

NYC Fashion Week is a Real Money Spinner

The biannual influx of style-makers makes New York City Fashion Week a real cash cow for the city. These regular events inject more than $20 million into the city’s economy. Retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels around Lincoln Square all enjoy the splurging of Fashion Week attendees, who typically spend an average of $650 during the eight-day event.

Most importantly for trade show vendors, attendees seem inspired by what they see during New York City Fashion Week events. They’ll happily spend 16 percent of their budget at the city’s retail outlets. If you have a New York store, ensuring that your products are promoted in at least one of the trade show booths in these shows will increase the chances you’ll enjoy a share of this fashion week spending.

NYC Fashion Week Matters in America

New York City holds the honor of being the only American fashion week in the world’s big four. However, with cities including Charleston, Nashville, Cleveland, and Austin all hosting fashion weeks, it’s far from the only place for United States vendors to show their wares. However, it is the one that matters most.

New York City Fashion Week attracts buyers, bloggers, and journalists from more than 30 different countries. While the popularity of smaller regional fashion weeks is growing, they’re still largely important only to the states that host them. With far greater attendance figures, the vendors at New York Fashion trade shows can network with many more people. The potentially greater number of available business connections can make exhibiting in New York more cost-effective, despite higher registration fees.

Studies also show the residents of Manhattan spend more on apparel than the citizens of any other American city, with an average monthly budget of $362. Compare that to the $207 they’re spending each month in Austin or the $188 they’re spending monthly in Nashville. This means the exhibitors at New York City’s fashion week trade shows put their garments in front of the people most likely to purchase them.

NYC Fashion Week Has Global Interest

The rise of tech-savvy fashionistas and plugged-in style-makers ensures New York City Fashion Week connects with more than its physical attendees. Digital news blog Mashable reported that 630,000 viewers watched live streaming of New York City Fashion Week catwalk shows in September 2013. That’s around 50 percent more than tuned in last season. They’re also watching for 40 percent longer than they did in 2012.

Other trade shows may lack runways glamour, but there’s no reason trade show vendors can’t capitalize on the interest of the online public. Smartphones make it easy to create short videos and upload them to a YouTube channel. Vendors can further promote their videos by sending them to fashion blogs and news sites.

The glitz and glamour of New York Fashion Week is alluring, but it’s the bottomline ROI, economic rewards and brand benefits achieved from their trade show booths that keep those in-the-know coming back to exhibit at these top rated trade shows.

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