FN Platform, set for Feb. 5 to 7 in Las Vegas, is making some major moves for this edition of the show to strengthen the experience for attendees.
“The needs of buyers and retailers are constantly evolving, and we take this seriously. We pay attention and listen, and are pivoting to provide the greatest overall experience,” said Leslie Gallin, president of footwear for Informa, FN Platform’s parent company.
The developments come as Informa, which became the world’s largest business-to-business trade organizer when it purchased UBM this year, plans to invest $15 million over the next three years to fuel growth in its fashion portfolio.
Here are five key things to pay attention to at FN Platform in February.
1. As part of a move to make the show experience more convenient for buyers, FN Platform is moving to the North Hall from the South Hall in February, aligning closer to the WWD Magic apparel event. (WWD Magic will remain in its same location, in the Central Hall.) “From a logistics standpoint, I thought it was time to shake things up,” Gallin said. “This move will enable buyers to shop apparel and footwear with an efficient use of their time. The change of halls made sense as North and South are the exact same size, allowing for a seamless transition.” (Manufacturing and sourcing vendors will now all be in the South Hall, and will show alongside the rest of the Sourcing at Magic exhibitors.)
2. FN Platform will test out some new designs and décor elements in February, and August will then see a full rollout version for a futuristic show experience. “We are experimenting with color and textures for the upcoming show and will incorporate more robust experiential opportunities on the show floor,” Gallin said. “From the moment people step out of their cabs, they will see a lot of color.”
3. The show is ramping up its focus on retail relations and beefing up the team to create enhanced “matchmaking” opportunities between retailers and brands. “We brought on David Jassem, a well-respected independent retailer to spearhead this program. We want to bring new eyes to the product, and with the new location and layout, that will happen organically,” Gallin said. “By changing things up, people will end up stumbling upon brands that have been there but they might have missed. This is the only place under one roof where they can have face time together.” FN Platform will continue to divide the floor into distinct lifestyle merchandised neighborhoods: Black Diamond, luxury women’s footwear; Cosmo, women’s fashion footwear; Camp, women’s and men’s casual lifestyle and advanced contemporary footwear; Bond, bespoke footwear for the modern man; In Play, children’s and juniors’ footwear; and Zen, the crossroads of footwear style and comfort.
4. Independent boutiques, in particular, are a focus — and FN Platform will equip retailers with more valuable tools to navigate the show, including a new digital app and more educational offerings. “How do we help the retailers become a bit more sophisticated and not so mom-and-pop?” Gallin said, noting that the opportunities for smaller stores are numerous. “A lot of brands have put all their eggs in the majors, and that [translates into] a lot of discounting. The consumer is confused. Brands are going to have a hard time if they don’t develop strong relationships with retailers.”
5. Networking-focused events will take center stage. The annual WIFI Impact Awards are back, and an opening night cocktail party on the floor will kick things off on a high note. Another new addition that will be welcome? A “real” Starbucks. Stay tuned for more food and beverage developments.