Informa Reveals New FN Platform Strategy

Informa has revealed a new show strategy for FN Platform.

Beginning with the Aug. 12-14 edition, the show will move its footwear communities within each corresponding lifestyle category at Magic to correspond with the “One Magic” initiative at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Footwear brands will continue to be grouped together by community on the floor but will be combined with apparel as opposed to within a separate space. Informa believes the synergy within the other shows will allow exhibitors and retailers to shop apparel and footwear within the same exhibit halls.

FN Platform branding and assortments will be included in the following show spaces: Women’s shoes will live with women’s fashion apparel at Project Women’s and Stitch in the North Hall; Men’s, outdoor and dual-gender footwear will stand within men’s apparel at Project Men and Magic Men in the Central Hall; Children’s shoes will be housed alongside children’s apparel in the North Hall; Fast fashion footwear will sit alongside the trend apparel of WWD Magic in the South Hall.

Here, Leslie Gallin, president of footwear at Informa, talks more about the changes ahead.

How was the decision made to fold FN Platform into the other four shows?
“I wouldn’t use the term that we’re folding FN Platform into Magic. … While we were looking at the construction that is going to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, it became apparent that [with the decision] to bring all of Magic under one roof, I could play around with how we merchandised footwear. The first thing that became [obvious] was children’s — that seemed like a no-brainer, to enhance the offering of children’s footwear and children’s apparel together. Footwear will still maintain its integrity of its footprint. We’re removing the neighborhood names, which we had created as help for identifying for retailers what type of product they would find in each neighborhood. Now we’re going to be a bit more generic. We’ll have FN Platform children’s footwear next to Magic children’s apparel. We’ll have FN Platform women’s sitting next to Project women’s and Stitch women’s apparel. The next question [might be] about Zen (comfort) and junior footwear. To me, all of that is women’s. Within the women’s plot of square footage, we have, for all intents and purposes, little neighborhoods of like product. All those adjacencies that people had before — nothing changes.”

How did the idea come up? Is it something you’ve been talking about internally?
“The puzzle just seemed to come together for me. It took a bit of floating it around to industry people, internally, and the more we floated it around, people started to realize, ‘You know, It’s a pretty good idea.’ I like to say we were innovators for the industry eight years ago, and now we’re fashion disruptors but in a positive way for the industry. When you look at the consumer today, the millennials, the Gen Zs, we all have to think to the future, that we’re all being disruptive.”
 
Will all of the FN Platform brands have a home in this new format?
“Yes. Nothing changes for those brands in terms of who they were sitting next to, because it will look exactly the same. The only difference is that women’s will be closer together, which is a good thing, and men’s will be more grouped together, as well. It’s going to work for everyone. I think people will actually be happier in some cases. We’re just excited because bringing the show under one roof instantaneously increases energy and buyer traffic. I think this kind of tees everything up and is a good use of people’s time instead of being put on a shuttle bus and going from one venue to another.”

Have you been speaking to the industry about the move for some time?
“The answer is yes and no. I’ve kind of had to sit on it a little bit. For the apparel side, it’s a great change for them, as well — because each one of our businesses is used to having their own hall and their own identity. This is actually forcing the business to be a bit more collaborative. As this is evolving, we’re seeing that we’re able to have some extra funding to be able to give back to our retailers who are attending, and that’s an exciting moment, as well. The things that we do for energy on the show floor, the activations, will also now be stepped up, as we’re able to work together as a team and not independently.”

The new layout of FN Platform — within Magic’s other shows  — as provided by Informa.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Informa

How do you position brands that have both men’s and women’s?
“On a case-by-case basis, we’re working with each of the brands that have dual presence to figure out what they prefer.”

Has everyone within the organization been on board?
“Yes. It’s interesting because everything is moving. I would say the part that is moving the most is footwear. But you have to be sympathetic and understanding to all of those brands coming from Mandalay Bay. That’s a disruption to them because they’ve never exhibited in the convention center before. It’s a disruptive moment but a positive disruption that’s been well thought-out.”

Who are some of the vendors you’ve spoken to? Have you talked to a lot of the industry so far?
“[April 15] was our early pay deadline. And I would tell you that at least 50 percent of what we’re projecting, the contracts are already in. Caleres is back. Vionic is in. Everyone is in, so that’s a good thing.”

How is the square footage and exhibitor count going to change?
“It’s going to be a bigger show than we were in February because we don’t have any date overlap, so we’re going to go back to normal. This show has maintained stability in the last eight years. It’s a big testament to the industry itself and the importance of the industry having one place twice a year to come together. All indications are that it is a necessary business forum for the industry.”
 
How will the branding stage since it will be separate?
“We’re still FN Platform, and really all the marketing and branding will be the name of the show. It’s still FN Platform. Instead of having [the former neighborhoods such as Cosmo and Camp] which we never really outwardly marketed, basically the same thing applies. We’re just being a little bit more overarching with women’s, children’s, men’s. I think that’s going to help retailers because there are still some that were confused by the neighborhoods’ names. I do think using names like the generic terms of gender, people will understand where to shop.”

In terms of some of the footwear exhibitors who already show at Magic and other shows, how will their placement change and not change?
“It’s up to the customer. We’re not looking to play musical chairs here. What we’re finding is, a lot of those brands now say, ‘We want to sit with FN Platform because we want to sit with the rest of the footwear people now that we’re going to be in the same hall as apparel.’ And then there are some that are saying, ‘I’m so glad this is going to help my business, but I’m going to stay in the umbrella I’m in.’ So it’s kind of 50/50. There haven’t been that many brands, to be perfectly frank, that have not been under the FN Platform umbrella. But if we look holistically at the amount of footwear that comes to Vegas twice a year, it’s considerable.”

Will the shows continue to be at LVCC for the duration?
“For the most part — that’s what we want. We’re working with the convention centers on dates. Everything just depends on construction. I can really speak to now, and I know the goal for the future is to completely be at the Las Vegas Convention Center because the building will be completely remodeled.”

So for the August show, this is the format?
“Definitely for August. Depending on construction, we’re going to have to bob and weave with whatever goes on. We feel now that by bringing everything together that bobbing and weaving is necessary. It isn’t really going to make that big of a difference because everything will still be together. So that’s another reason why bringing things together makes it logistically easier.”

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