A Trade Show Game Plan for Emerging Designers

A Trade Show Game Plan for Emerging Designers | MakersValley Blog
Yash Bansal

Yash Bansal

When you attend any sort of event or convention, what draws you to certain booths? The answer to this question likely depends on context. When it comes to fashion trade shows, there is a detailed approach emerging designers can take to help themselves and their booths stand out to fashion buyers at these events. Even with the rise of e-commerce and social media, a traditional fashion trade show can be an effective way for new designers to get their name out there.

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Preparing to Attend Fashion Trade Shows

Attending a fashion trade show is a great opportunity to connect and learn with others in the industry. It is important for up-and-coming designers to prepare before attending. Getting into the right mindset can be valuable for both in-person and digital trade shows. However, since in-person trade shows will eventually return post-pandemic, it is still valuable for designers to have a strategy in place for these events. Here are some things designers can do to prepare for a fashion trade show like MAGIC or Coterie:

  • Figure out what you want to prioritize and set concrete goals - Before even signing up for a trade show it is important to recognize what your primary goals are. Some potential goals could include meeting a certain number of high-profile contacts or getting a certain level of engagement on social media channels. 
  • Practice your introduction - You will likely meet a lot of new and valuable connections at a trade show. It can be helpful to practice your introduction and know which points you want to communicate to all whom you meet at the trade show.
  • Research the city and the show’s hashtags - Once you have chosen a trade show, do a little digging on what hashtags the trade show will use as well as the culture of the city you will be visiting. It may be helpful to also find out where some of the companies you want to get in touch with are coming from.
  • Create your calendar and social media plan - Have an idea of what your hourly calendar will look like while attending. Make certain appointments in advance as needed. Also, have a game plan for how you’ll manage your social media during and in advance of the event.
  • Research vendors and speakers and plan some conversation starters - A trade show is a great opportunity to reach out to other vendors to discover opportunities that can serve mutual benefits. Use the introduction you created earlier, plus some well-thought-out industry-related conversation starters. You can also potentially network before the show and make connections before you even arrive if you conduct thorough research.
  • Create a post-show plan and schedule to follow up with new show contacts - Plan ahead for what you want to do after the trade show. You may want to highlight your attendance at the event on social media as well as reach out to any contact you made via email, a wholesale platform, or LinkedIn.

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How to Set up a Booth at a Fashion Trade Show

Once you have set your goals and done all of the necessary preparations for attending a trade show, the next step is creating a strategy for your company’s booth. Some things you can do to help stand out as well as make the most of your time at the event include the following: 

  • Brand your booth to stand out - Your booth is an opportunity to show off your brand image and stand out. Make sure it is set up in a way that conveys the message of your brand. Some ways to do this are to make sure your logo is printed large and can be spotted from a distance as well as highlighting your core values in your booth design. 
  • Have an idea of where you will be located and make a plan strategically - Once you know where you will be located, see which booths are near you. This will help you understand what kind of crowds will be attracted to your general area. If there is a certain type of brand or audience you want to reach out to, make sure you have a logistical plan of how to reach them by fully analyzing the map of booths.
  • Be engaged and get involved  - As you meet people, be enthusiastic and engaged in every conversation. Again, this is an opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and get your name out there, so it is important to put your best foot forward. Show the same level of engagement and interest when getting to know owners of other fashion businesses.
  • Have a detailed list of all the connections you make so you can follow up later - As you’re making new connections with booth visitors, have a system in place where you jot down their information or collect their business cards. This information will be essential in order to follow up with the new members of your professional network.

Fashion trade shows are a way for emerging designers to connect with fashion buyers, other brand owners, and industry experts to get their brand name out there. In the near future, they will likely return to the in-person format, especially as the pandemic eventually reaches its final stages. Be ready by following the above tips, and by staying up on the latest fashion trends for this and future seasons.

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