In a unique move, two of the biggest trade show operators in the footwear business will work together in hopes of better meeting the needs of the industry.
After discovering a conflict between their February 2019 events, the Fashion Footwear Association of New York and Informa, the new parent of the twice-annual FN Platform show, are creating a collaborative roundtable aimed at guiding and shaping the future of trade events and the industry at large.
“We recognize that while we have this current situation, what really would benefit [shoe companies] is if we began a broad dialogue with many stakeholders on the evolution of the industry,” said Ron Fromm, president and CEO of FFANY. “We want to have a conversation about how people see this evolving in regard to the process of sourcing, designing, marketing and selling.”
Leslie Gallin, president of footwear at Informa, noted that the roundtable will be made up of influential figures in the footwear business, including retailers and wholesalers, as well as trade organizations and associations.
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“If we can bring all of these people together, think about the change that we can effect for the industry, to strengthen it. We’re looking to be a conduit for the industry,” she said. “All of us collectively have nuggets of information, and if we come together, we can do something positive and bring more knowledge and opportunity.”
The first meeting for the roundtable is slated for Oct. 11, when top executives and footwear figures will gather in New York to attend the “QVC Presents FFANY Shoes on Sale” breast cancer fundraiser.
However, Fromm noted that the format of the advisory group itself could evolve. “We’re looking at: What does a great roundtable look like in the new-world environment — is it really people getting together in a room?” he said. “Maybe we open it up to digital and communications technologies that would allow us to participate and collaborate more broadly and to be more transparent.”
This partnership initiative was prompted by a clash of dates.
FFANY Market Week is set for Feb. 4-8, while FN Platform is scheduled for Feb. 5-7 on the opposite side of the country, creating a significant logistical challenge for attendees and exhibitors.
Gallin recalled that after realizing the overlap, the two organizations connected to discuss possible changes. But despite their best efforts, they were unable to adjust the dates, for varying reasons. FFANY, for instance, which hosts four events a year in New York, has committed to starting its shoe expos on the first Monday of a month to simplify planning.
And FN Platform faced difficulties as a component of the larger Magic juggernaut, which covers about 1 million square feet of exhibition space and draws more than 100,000 people to Las Vegas. “Turning a ship this large was not possible in such a short time window,” said Gallin.
She added, “We all recognize this is a crazy time, and people are going to have to figure out how to be in both places at once.”
In response, both organizations said they would reach out to their retail and brand partners to discuss ways to assist in their coordination efforts. And they are optimistic that the roundtable will help prevent future conflicts. “Out of adversity, we’re coming up with positive solutions for the future,” said Gallin.
In the meantime, FFANY will hold its next shoe expo Dec. 4-6. After introducing two new locations this year — the Warwick Hotel and Academy Mansion — the trade show is expanding to take more space in both venues. In addition, Fromm said the organization is looking for ways to better engage retailers and improve their buying processes.