Overseas retailers and exhibitors — from Mexico, Brazil and Portugal, as well as from Italy and the U.K. — are largely responsible for the spike in participation at the event, set for Aug. 19-21.
With a bigger international presence and an expanded brand lineup, FN Platform will adjust the show floor to improve navigation and the flow of foot traffic. For instance, the Camp and Bond sections, for sport-inspired brands and men’s shoes, respectively, will be moved next to each other, and the juniors’ and children’s offerings will be closer to the women’s product. Additionally, the floor will feature color-wrapped columns and more ground-level signs to help attendees find booths quickly.
“As we grew over the past couple of shows, some of the neighborhoods were becoming a little splintered. We made a conscious decision to put brands together in an entire lifestyle neighborhood,” said Leslie Gallin, VP of footwear for parent firm Advanstar Global. “This will offer better synergy for everyone.”
What’s more, while attendees had previously entered the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center from only the main street-side doors, an additional entrance will be opened on the opposite side of the building, near the FN Café. That will allow showgoers to exit — and access shuttle buses — from either end.
“It ensures traffic flow coming in and out of the building,” said Gallin. “It allows buyers the opportunity to start at one end and go to the other and exit without having to walk all the way back.”
In other moves, WWD Magic White, which features women’s contemporary brands, will be relocated to the South Hall’s upstairs level, which, according to Gallin, puts ready-to-wear retailers in closer proximity to footwear brands.
Buyers will have plenty to choose from, with FN Platform hosting 1,600 labels. Elie Tahari, Carmen Marc Valvo, Dune London and Michael Hockey are among the notable new exhibitors at the event.
Other highlights include a beefed-up section of British exhibitors — with brands including FitFlop, Ted Baker London, United Nude and Nicola Sexton — as well as a larger section devoted to made-in-Italy labels.
On the entertainment front, opening night will feature a musical performance by David Cassidy, known for playing Keith Partridge in the 1970s TV classic “The Partridge Family.” He will hit the stage in the FN Café at 6:45 p.m. In addition to the concert, FN Platform will offer more educational sessions for retailers and wholesalers (see Event Calendar).
“This show is a place where the innovators of the industry converge; they meet to shop and show shoes. It’s the Davos of footwear,” said Gallin. “This is an environment where if you’re in the industry of footwear, it’s your twice-a-year opportunity to collectively get together and have conversations that will help you steer toward the future.”