3 Questions for Kelly Helfman
President of Informa Markets Fashion

3 questions à Kelly Helfman

What is the market situation in the United States? 

After the pandemic we had doubts about retail’s ability to get back on its feet, but we’re finally happy to note that the sector continues to grow in the United States. We even saw a significant increase in the number of online boutiques during the past year. Now that consumers are going back to work and traveling again, retail stores are seeing their sales figures climb. 

At the same time, buyers are more careful about placing orders to avoid stock surplus problems. We also observe that the retailers who visit our shows are increasingly serious and well informed. Their priority is discovering new and emerging brands. Buyers are no longer only interested in future collections, now they’re ready to order products to use more quickly and satisfy immediate demands. 

Do these changes affect the events you organise in the United States? 

The pandemic let us take a step back and rethink our range of trade shows. We’ve implemented important improvements to our events, especially by grouping different shows together to create spaces with more impact. This way we can give buyers access to different product categories and different price points in one place. In Las Vegas, for example, footwear is no longer only in one space. We’ve moved it next to apparel so buyers can buy all their products in just one area. So now, both the Project and MAGIC trade shows have footwear that matches each one’s price point and style. 

We’ve put Coterie, our most premium contemporary women’s show, on Level 3 in the Javits Convention Center in New York; and we’ve put MAGIC NY, which encompasses the former shows FAME, MODA, Sole Commerce and Accessories the Show, on Level 1. This layout gives buyers a clear idea of where they need to go, and lets each trade show have its own product offer. Buyers will still attend Coterie to see their favourite contemporary American brands, but they’ll also be able to discover new international labels. This September Coterie will have a major makeover in terms of the branding, experience, layout and cache. There will be new brands, international collections, sustainability, digitalisation and technology. The show will also feature trend spaces to introduce brands, a concierge service, reports on the most relevant fashion topics and much more. 

What’s your advice to a brand that wants to develop its business on the American market? 

To perform well on the American market, you must be absolutely sure you can respect delivery deadlines. It’s critical to clearly define those dates and to state the minimum order requirement and wholesale prices in dollars. Specification sheets are also important, and you have to monitor production and, of course, have a collection that appeals to American consumers. It’s also essential to have English-speaking staff at the stand for the best possible presentation of your collections. Flexible conditions and payments are another big plus. 

Be sure to start your marketing efforts between four and six weeks before the show, and book as many appointments as possible ahead of time. Concerning positioning, we observe that American consumers are increasingly interested in community-focused brands that are equally invested in aesthetics, social impact and sustainability. More and more people and young consumers are ready to spend more on good quality, long-lasting products in the interest of reducing apparel waste. 

As far as style: innovative materials as well as simple architectural shapes combined with either contrasting, over-sized silhouettes or close-fitting cuts are popular. Draping and gathering create soft – but still sculptural – forms in key pieces like dresses with low necklines and in comfortable tops and suits. Other good bets are bold seasonal prints and bright colours – floral print dresses are an example. And then there are retro prints, stripes and polka dots in eye-catching shades. As a final note, we’re witnessing a real interest in natural, eco-friendly materials, such as fair trade cotton, linen, hemp, peace silk and fibres produced from fruit waste.