The WSA Show Attracts Focused Buyers
More Than 24,270 participants come to Las Vegas
ENCINO, Calif. (February 19, 2009)—The footwear and accessories market gathered in Las Vegas at The WSA Show, The Collections at WSA and Materials at WSA this past week, drawing 24,270 participants from every corner of the U.S. and 106 countries. There were 87 new exhibitors featuring an estimated 150 designers and brands, and industry and category leaders like H.H. Brown, Nine West Footwear Group, Brown Shoe, Geox, Skechers and Steve Madden were present alongside contemporary brands like Tracy Reese, Miss Sixty, Ilse Jacobsen and Luxury Rebel.
“The creativity and innovation of the footwear sector were clearly evident despite the economic challenges, and many were pleasantly surprised by better than expected results,” said Diane Stone, the show’s COO. “You can’t talk about numbers without analyzing and understanding them, especially in this economy. Tradeshows are smaller due to cost containment and layoffs and retail and construction industry events are down the most. Given the fact that buying staffs are drastically reduced, travel is curtailed, and stores are going out of business, we’re fortunate to be down only 18 percent. But numbers never tell the entire story.”
According to many exhibitors, those who attended the most recent WSA Show were focused and buying, with many exhibitors having a stronger show than they expected. Major brands such as Havaianas and Clarks, which showed their signature brands Bostonian, Indigo and Pr!vo, were pleased to see changes in the show floor layout, which they credited with helping their business at the show. “The response was outstanding,” said Jane Feigenson, director of corporate events, Clarks. “We were pretty much busy the entire show. Despite all the doom and gloom, there was a glimmer of hope.”
The Collections at WSA, which hosted over 350 brands including Georgina Goodman, Bally, Loeffler Randall, Allen Edmonds, See by Chloe, Vera Wang Lavender and StyleNaturale by Barbara Boz, debuted a fresh new look designed to give buyers an inspiring and comfortable environment to help them easily discover the right product for their individual customers. “Innovation is crucial at a time like this, and keeping up with the ever-changing fashion industry is essential. We’re very excited to unveil a new look for The Collections at WSA,” said Leslie Gallin, the show’s director. “The attendance feedback we’ve received from exhibitors and buyers confirmed the show is headed in the right direction. People were here to do business.”
“We’ve had a great show, lots of appointments,” said Lee Reich, director & partner for Butter, Tibi Footwear, and Something Bleu. “Buyers are looking for shoes that are not too trendy, but still fresh. Our brands offer that at the right price points, especially with being manufactured in Italy. That opened up a lot of doors for us.”
Another highlight for this year’s show was the move of the C7 concept area to the more intimate, boutique-style setting of the Bellini Ballroom. The vibrant ambiance included upbeat music, foot massages courtesy of Foot Petals, free wi-fi, and a food and beverage café. "Traffic has been great. This boutique atmosphere with music is much better for us, and our clients like it too," said Kathy Bosco, co-owner of Fly London. Some of the other brands exhibiting in C7 included Auri Footwear, Bacco Bucci, Camper, Diesel, Shane&Shawn, Hudson, Hunter Boots and Ryan Rowe.
Attendees came from all around the country and the world. Forty percent came from East and Central U.S.; 35% from the West; and, significantly, 25% from International territories – particularly high for a U.S. event. As a result of direct recruitment by WSA’s retail relations staff, since the summer 2008 show, exceptional international attendance gains have come from Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Venezuela, France, Germany, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Bulgaria.
The well-attended Glass Slipper Awards returned for its fifth installment at a new location, Sushi Samba. The night celebrated the creativity Collections at WSA exhibitors and designers put into outfitting their suites. Below are this show’s winners:
The February 2009 Glass Slipper Award honorees:
Best New Exhibitor Suite- Manitobah Mukluks
o Runner up – H Williams
Most Innovative Use of Space- Revelin Studios
o Runner up–Marcee C Jewels To Treasure
Creative Use of Exhibit Suite Space– StyleNaturale by Barbara Boz
The WSA Show’s new look and layout set the stage for what attendees can expect for the upcoming July 2009 event, which will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center July 31– August 2, 2009. The Collections at WSA, held alongside The WSA Show, will continue to be held in the suites at The Venetian.