Industry Frets About WSA, FFANY Overlap

Vendors said they were concerned about the impact of the conflicting events.

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Elyse Kroll

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Next year’s conflicting WSA and FFANY shows could pose significant challenges for many footwear players.

The Las Vegas-based WSA Show announced recently it had shifted its dates to the same three-day period as New York-based FFANY during February and August 2010 — and potentially for 2011 and 2012 — causing many industry execs to say they will have to choose between the two shows.

In a major shift, WSA will now be held each year during the first week of February and first week of August, each year and will be housed under one roof on a permanent basis.

ENK President Tom Nastos said the new WSA dates are the show’s “historical” dates and have been in place since before FFANY decided to hold four shows a year. “We want to support FFANY in June and December,” Nastos said.

In February, WSA will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center (with the Collections at the Hotel at Mandalay Bay).

Starting next August, the show will move to the Sands Convention Center and Venetian Suites on a permanent basis (for details, see chart below).

“What everyone wanted was the right dates under one roof, so now we’re making these moves,” said ENK founder and chairwoman Elyse Kroll, noting that ENK had moved quickly to meet the demands of the industry. “It’s the beginning of some monumental changes.”

For his part, FFANY President Joe Moore said he was surprised that WSA had changed its dates without discussing the change first with his organization, and said the move would inevitably create a divisive situation.

“The vendors are not all capable of showing in two places,” Moore said.

While Kroll acknowledged that the dates would now overlap with FFANY in New York, she remained confident that WSA was the right platform for the market at large.

“I’m not asking people to choose [which show they will attend] ... but FFANY is a small segment of the market. We serve the entire industry,” Kroll said. “Hopefully, we will get our fashion people to participate.”

“[The fashion segment] shows a little bit in Vegas, but they debut their new shoes here,” Moore said. “That’s what’s been happening the last several years.”

As of now, WSA and FFANY could also potentially be held during the same dates for three of the four shows in 2011 and 2012.

“FFANY’s Executive Committee has met to review the situation, and within a short time, the full FFANY Board will be consulted to review [our] planned 2011 and 2012 markets and determine whether any changes are warranted,” Moore said.

Top industry executives, meanwhile, were mixed on the news last week.

“The pure logic of having every category and every gender twice a year under one roof [at WSA] is massively important,” said H.H. Brown CEO Jim Issler, who also serves on the FFANY board.

“FFANY is a very important instrument to this industry to implement fashion goods and to show them first. You need both of these shows. Temporarily, there will be some overlap, but that will work itself out. WSA has new management and they’re trying to get their dates right.”

Larry Tarica, president and COO of Jimlar Corp. and chairman of the FFANY board, had a different opinion.
“We consider it unfortunate that WSA has chosen to secure and announce dates that are exactly the same as FFANY’s,” he said.

“As a result, wholesale and retail companies are going to have significant choices to make as to which trade fairs to attend ... specifically for 2010, where FFANY’s contracts have been executed and we have firm space. A company like ours will have to make the choice to show at WSA or FFANY, when in the past we showed at both.”

Moving forward, Tarica said, “FFANY and many individual companies will have to make some decisions about what [the trade show landscape] is going to look like in the future.”

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