Who Won at WWIN: The Trade Show with a Plus
Every August and February the trade expos happen in Las Vegas and New York. My favorite is the WWIN show (Women’s Wear in Nevada) at the Rio Hotel which happened right after NYFW – February 16-19, 2015 — and has grown in magnitude to over 2000 brands. WWIN now features the highest concentration of plus size clothing in any trade show, but also includes brands with missy and even accessories, too. It happens to start one day earlier than Magic, which is at the Convention Center, that giant behemoth show that this year featured Emme as a guest speaker. As a former plus size supermodel she has truly become an industry leader and a spokesperson and advocate. Her new program called” Fashion Without Limits” is the first design program that is aimed at motivating young designers to start designing in design school. She created a handful of plus size mannequins (size 16/18/20) with Wolf Form and they are now available at her alma mater, Syracuse University. She is about encouraging everyone to design clothing for the plus size woman and she hits everyone in their pocketbook and wallet cause as she continually states, “It’s just GOOD FOR BUSINESS!!” As a speaker last week at Magic she admonished lines who are still adamant about “going plus” and rallied to our cause encouraging the missy brands to think “big” and expand their lines to include plus sizes. It was awesome grassroots activism. Bravo Emme!!!
Over at the Rio, however, this season’s WWIN show displayed some wonderful merchandise and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and caliber of what was presented. It’s a far cry from the 80s when it was the B.A.T. Show (Big and Tall) in one large room with only a handful of showrooms and clothing lines. Those jogging suits, caftans and clown clothes were nothing to write home about in the early days of plus fashion. But now, suffice it to say I LOVED what I saw and decided to write up a “best of/highlights” article to share my discoveries with all of you. I think you’ll be pleased with some of the new additions coming into the plus market (note: some of the lines launch missy and plus together). After surveying the lines, I came up with a Best of Show for each category, too. BEST APPAREL, BEST ACTIVEWEAR, BEST SHAPEWEAR, BEST NOVELTY ITEM, BEST INNOVATIVE DRESS LINE, BEST FASHION FORWARD TREND LINE and some miscellaneous honorable mentions for good measure!
I was on a mission, making it a point to swoop around the aisles looking for new brands and vendors to feature in my Runway the Real Way shows and to write about and stay current with new merchandise and trends in the plus size market. I have done trade show MODA in Manhattan fairly regularly, but traveling clear across the country and dedicating four days to learning what the latest and the greatest out there truly warrants sharing. It was a great way to escape the extreme cold in NYC as the Vegas weather was a pleasant 74 degrees and sunny. Weather aside, it turned out to be quite fruitful.
I was reminded of how fortunate I was during my MODE magazine years when I was a Fashion Retail Editor and would travel around the country to all the different stores, who took co-op advertising in our pages meeting fans in each territory, creating and commentating runway shows in plus size departments across the US. That certainly helped acquaint me with all of the current styles represented in all of the featured plus brands. But a trade show is even better because I get to see an entire season’s line with every item before they even hit the stores or the marketplace. Remember that the merchandise that makes it to the selling floor is at the whim and opinion of the buyer and their selection is only a very limited part of the entire available styles. So this is not only a complete array, but way beyond current as it is six months in advance of delivery and shipping. I not only share the resources I learn about with my current promotional platforms, but I share them with my students at F.I.T. where I teach a plus and petite image and styling course every season. And now I’m sharing my discoveries with all of the DVD readers, too. It’s a lot of time and expense to attend these shows and I understand why I don’t see more industry insiders there. Going to a trade show like WWIN, Women’s Wear in Nevada, is like going to their showroom and witnessing a trunk show presentation of everything they offer that season.
With so many brands to familiarize yourself with over the course of four days, one of the challenges is getting to see all the many lines who also feature plus sizes. It’s still takes some work to create a list of who to visit, but the directory does break it out by plus. Mapping out how best to create a plan of attack is crucial so you aren’t left wandering aimlessly asking the ubiquitous question, “Do you carry plus sizes?” A lot of lines have begun to carry extended sizes (which means that they just grade up with a missy cut to size 18) and also some lines are considering going into plus so consulting about sizing specs and translating appropriate silhouette styles is a conversation of frequent merit.
(Click on each brand below to find out what made these companies stand out)
I stopped by Magic for a moment and also managed to see Serita Bell there and a new designer Qurvii, (another unique spelling!) who is out of New Jersey and just delightful with a touch of the dramatic in her pieces. Some great tops for sure. Curvy Fashion USA says what it is, very utilitarian and predictable items that are well priced and in the pocket. They were doing a lot of business, but there is always a place for the reinvented repertoire of reliables in one’s wardrobe
I had a great time all in all and can’t wait for these lines to flourish and become successful. They are deserving of our time and attention. Let them know you read about them here and they may even stay in business for longer than five years. It’s important that we support these designers and new brands. We are all together in this and we didn’t get these dedicated designers who want to serve this market by accident. They LOVE us and want us to look amazing in their designs. It’s the Curvy Cooperative’s motto – Our unity is a plus!
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