When the show gets under way Feb. 12-14, attendees will be greeted with a fresh floor layout organized according to new categories, with updated colors and signage.
“We’re doing exactly the same thing that smart retailers are doing,” said WSA COO Diane Stone. “This is about the creation of a fresh environment and populating that environment with exciting product. We’re now part of a company with greatly expanded resources and we have the partnership of Elyse Kroll, [ENK CEO], who is really phenomenal at the creation of show environments.”
Stone said the decor of WSA would resemble that of ENK’s Sole Commerce shows in New York. The product categories, however, have been redesigned to more closely reflect how products are organized in stores, which Stone said will help buyers spot trends and navigate the show. “It’s about taking a large environment and turning it into niches that present trends and product in a way that is much more understandable and digestible for buyers,” she said.
Also, the children’s area of the show will be rebranded as Children’s Club, named after ENK’s children’s show.
The juniors’ and women’s area will now be redesignated as the juniors-contemporary-modern category. “This really and truly mirrors how these products and these brands sit on retail shelves,” said Stone.
Stone noted that WSA also has discontinued the athletic category in favor of a new fashion-active area that will feature athletic and juniors’ footwear related to the skate market and street trends.
The Box area of the show, which debuted during the February 2008 installment, is on pace to double in size from the August exhibition.
The Collections at WSA is also undergoing changes, trimming a day off its schedule. The show-within-a-show will now run for three days, more closely mirroring the main floor exhibition.
Collections at WSA Director Leslie Gallin said it was a hard decision to make, but retailers and vendors were split on their desire to shorten the show. “I had some exhibitors at the last show working right up until [the end of] the fourth day, and others were singing the blues. So it really depends. Personally, I think we could use a fourth day. We’ll see how it works.”
The C7 European athleisure section of the Collections, which debuted last season, will be relocated to the Bellini Ballroom in the Venetian. According to Gallin, 50 to 100 brands are expected to exhibit, similar to last season. “I’ve wanted for a very long time to create a hip and cool vibe, and each show we do something different,” she said, noting that there will be music, food and giveaways as part of the presentation.
The Glass Slipper Awards, honoring the best suite designs, is also on the move. The event is now slated for Feb. 13 at Sushi Samba in The Palazzo hotel, a new venue.
Stone said it’s still too early to predict buyer attendance at WSA, since most retailers are consumed with surviving the holiday season. Still, she promised, “This will be a very comprehensive showing of this industry.”
The showing, however, may be scaled back in terms of booth sizes, at least compared with recent years. “In this economy, there are people who will make a decision to have a booth that is somewhat smaller than they’ve had in the past, but that’s not what’s important,” said Stone. “What’s important is to be a part of the market … and for retailers to make sure they’re offering to their customers [something] fresh and exciting.”