BY Jingnan Peng
In a brightly lit hall of the Javits Center, during the final days of New York Fashion Week, buyers from upscale stores around the world walked down rows of booths filled with women’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories.
The trade show, EDIT, launched in February 2014 by Business Journals Inc. (BJI), a business-to-business media company, provides emerging and recognized designers with a platform to show their fashion lines in the U.S. market. Though less glamorous than a typical New York Fashion Week runway show that has a catwalk and paparazzi, EDIT can be more profitable for the designers, according to the show’s director, Alexandra D’Archangelo.
“A runway show is a beautiful layer to add to a sales campaign. They are more press-focused, but EDIT is more sales-focused,” she said.
EDIT’s mission, according to its website, is to carefully match designers with buyers who have similar aesthetics and price points, in hopes of making a sale.
This September’s EDIT was Wendy Stevens’ first step into the fashion market. The Philadelphia-based designer of stainless steel bags with intricate etched patterns had been selling her works in the gift market. She said the experience at EDIT was wonderful. “The buyers get what I do. I have connected with a very different group of clientele, and I am going home with a stack of orders,” she said.
For the 78 lines—of which many are debuting or based outside the U.S.—EDIT is a cheaper alternative to a runway show. Booths range in size from 10 feet by 10 feet to 20-by-40, and cost from $6,500 to $32,400. At New York Fashion Week, $200,000 is considered a reasonable amount a line spends on a runway show, according to Fashionista.
Retailers at EDIT see it as an important stop in their Fashion Week itinerary. “EDIT is a good place to start before walking the other BJI shows because you can see what the high-end and most creative designers are doing,” said buyer Laura Winterhalter, who owns a curated Scandinavian lifestyle store inside the Scandinavian House on Park Avenue.
Buyers Steve and Marta Fazio, who run PlainClothes, an upscale store in Homewood, Ala., ordered from two Italian lines at a previous EDIT show, and have come again this September. “We find EDIT more manageable because it is smaller and the price point and quality are similar throughout,” said Steve Fazio.
D’Archangelo said EDIT organizers marketed to 3,000 of the best stores worldwide to attend the show, although she does not know the number of retailers who actually visited.
“We value the quality of the buyers over the quantity,” she said.
But not all the designers were happy with the show. Portuguese-based TM Collection had 12 orders at the show, but its sales manager Leonor Hedstrom was not satisfied. “We are a foreign brand. We only have three days here. What we want is to sell, sell, sell.”
D’Archangelo responded to the criticism by saying that the company may have had different expectations than most of the exhibitors, which sell more expensive clothing. “Some brands, like TM Collection, have price points that are more on the accessible side. It would make sense that they are interested in a broad range of stores.”
Another Portuguese-line, Storytailors, came to EDIT because its price point was too expensive back home. The line, featuring diaphanous “modular” dresses that can be taken apart and reassembled in different ways, had around 20 interested buyers near the end of the show, but no orders were placed, according to João Branco, one of the designers. He is not discouraged by the lack of sales, though, and plans to bring the line to EDIT for the next season. “Some retailers are expecting to see our development in the U.S. and see us do another show, because this is our first time,” he said.
It is too early to measure how EDIT affects the designer’ long-term careers, D’Archangelo said, as the show has been around for only four seasons.
Despite some complaints about sales, designers praised the atmosphere at EDIT. “I know the fashion industry is extremely competitive,” said Ellie Mae Waters, a Canadian designer who debuted her line at EDIT. “But here people help each other out. We send buyers to each other.”
“The designers here are not trend-driven. They are not all selling the same thing and racing about the price,” said D’Archangelo. “This makes them less competitive.”