For this week’s study tour, we ventured to Midtown for the FFANY shoe show. Four hotel floors filled with shoes – what more could a girl want?
The wholesale show is one of several shows put on by the industry for buyers to view and select products for the following season. Organized in an unique format, the each vendor was placed in individual hotel rooms, placing products on shelves, the floor and even on top of beds in hopes that a buyer will be placing an order for the Fall/Winter 2014 season.
We were lucky enough to have an introduction to the show from Barry, a sales representative from Cougar, which specializes in waterproof and temperature-rated shoes. He explained the role of a vendor in the shoe industry in great detail. First, he said the Cougar designers shop in Europe before each season to decide what to build on for the brand, in addition to making adjustments to previously successful products, which helps reduce production costs. They then try to make a line story with the pieces in order to better build their business model. He said the most important factor to remember that any fashion must work for the brand, not just a specific market, like the US.
Barry also gave a great explanation about what a buyer’s role is at these industry shows. A buyer has to focus on style, material and color. The most important aspect of their role is to look at products in terms of the consumer, and not in their own personal tastes. After deciding on a style, they must determine a pricing strategy and how many pairs to host in each individual store. He explained that most smaller boutiques make purchase orders at the time of the show, but larger retailers, like Macy’s, use a system called a style-out after shows to pick the best of the best to put in the stores, so they have vendors send them samples following the show to decide on.
We also visited Luichiny and Jeffery Campbell during the show, seeing hundreds and hundreds of shoes. Having worked at other trade shows in past jobs, it was such a different atmosphere from what I’ve been exposed to!