The Shows Must Go On: Trio of Fashion Events Prove to Be Stronger Together

February 25, 2021
The Shows Must Go On: Trio of Fashion Events Prove to Be Stronger Together

Three was certainly company at the Orange County Convention Center when a trio of fashion shows resumed in-person events in Orlando recently. MAGIC Pop-Up Orlando, OFFPRICE Orlando Market and WWIN Orlando Showcase, held Feb. 9-11, relied on three titans of the trade show industry — Informa Markets, Clarion Events and Tarsus Group — to present a unified front to ensure safety measures were upheld while important business was conducted. 

With the tactile nature of the fashion industry, many buyers and exhibitors were eager to move their networking and deal brokering back to an in-person format. To accommodate those ready to travel and meet, Informa, Clarion and Tarsus made a joint agreement to move their annual winter shows from Las Vegas — still hampered by large gathering limitations — to Orlando. 

“The on-site energy was upbeat, enthusiastic and hopeful, with both fashion brands and retail buyers demonstrating eagerness to reconnect and conduct business in a live environment setting,” said Kelly Helfman, commercial president of Informa Markets Fashion.

While they knew the numbers would not match past totals, organizers felt the time was right to put on the shows.

“After careful consideration, we thought we could put-together a more intimate event for those who were ready,” said Tricia Barglof, executive director of OFFPRICE, part of the Tarsus Group. (TSNN is also part of Tarsus.)

Helfman reported that attendees took advantage of the intimate nature of this event by walking all of the showfloors and sitting in on timely education sessions. It also proved to be an effective environment to conduct business. 

The three shows and facility took their lead from Informa AllSecure and Trust OFFPRICE, two sets of safety measures implemented to protect guests from COVID-19. Among the health protocols were:

  • Pre-event communication and on-site signage
  • Requiring a negative COVID test through pre-testing or free on-site COVID testing
  • Face masks were required
  • Temperature checks before entrance to the exhibit hall
  • Extra-wide aisles and additional space between booths for an expanded floor plan
  • Deep cleaning the venue daily and extra cleaning and security staff to ensure all safety measures were enforced

On-site, wellness desks with extra masks and sanitizer were spread out across the convention center and booth spaces were expanded to provide an open-air space. The larger booths had a secondary benefit in that they proved to be a welcoming environment that was easier to display products, Helfman said.

The Shows Must Go On: Trio of Fashion Events Prove to Be Stronger TogetherAttendees were impressed.

"We liked that we were able to meet various suppliers in Orlando after a whole year,” said Buyer Jack Silvera, who traveled from Panama to Florida for OFFPRICE. “The show was well organized and safe."

OCCC has been a savior for many companies looking to stage a face-to-face component with their events but unable to do so in contracted venues. The convention center has hosted more than 20 relocated gatherings during the pandemic. The planning and venue were a perfect match for this time, said Clarion Events Executive Vice President Desiree Hanson, who added that everyone involved is ready to speed the recovery. 

“It’s been exactly one year since we were together in person with our customers and it felt incredible to see the signs of business getting back on its feet,” Hanson said. “Face-to-face is what the fashion industry needs and we were happy we could provide a safe environment for our customers to do business in person.”

The Shows Must Go On: Trio of Fashion Events Prove to Be Stronger TogetherTeamwork was instrumental to ensure the trio of shows felt like a unified experience with distinct components—the underlying effort of a “strong together” theme. 

Marketing and operations teams held weekly calls leading up to the collocated shows. “Where we could align on operations initiatives — security, cleaning, signage — it was important for the groups to work together so that we made it as easy as possible for anyone attending in order to enhance their experience,” Barglof explained.

 The shows “delivered substantial economic impact to the region, supporting local hotels, restaurants, retailers and entertainment, not to mention sustaining revenue for the OCCC and its hundreds of full-time and contracted employees,” noted OCCC officials in a press release. 

On a more visceral level, Barglof said she could feel the enthusiasm from the in-person crowd. “Although you couldn’t see the smiles behind the masks, you could genuinely see the happiness in everyone’s eyes to see one another again,” she said. 

Magic, WWIN and OFFPRICE plan to conduct their summer show in August in Las Vegas, their long-standing home. And with February’s event in the books, there is momentum going forward.

“It’s going to take time to rebuild, which is why it was important to take the leap now, while the industry is asking for these opportunities to show them that we can do this safely together,” Hanson said.

Added Helfman: “Fashion is on the rebound.”


Photo Credits: Informa Markets Fashion/Hailley Howard Photography (top); OFFPRICE (middle); Orange County Convention Center/WWIN (bottom)

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.