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The situation is even more complicated for some companies.
“We’re not pleased at all,” said John Lagrotteria, an account executive at Bruno Magli, which showed at both WSA and FFANY this time around.
“The purpose of the shows is to be convenient to our customers. I don’t know if this is a power struggle, but it doesn’t make sense.”
“It’s craziness,” added Jerry Turner, president and CEO of American Sporting Goods. “At the end of the day, FFANY will win out over WSA. A lot of the department stores will go to FFANY. I don’t think it’s good for either of [the shows].”
Designer Donald Pliner said he “absolutely” will not attend WSA if it takes place at the same time as FFANY. He added that Magic might become a bigger industry player as a result of the situation. “Maybe Magic will come back to where it was 20 years ago,” he said.
Designer Bettye Muller said her small brand does not have the staff to send salespeople to both WSA and FFANY. Instead, she plans to focus on FFANY. “I can’t be in two places at once. How will that work?” she said. “I will always do FFANY. New York is back to being No. 1.”
Muller added that she wants to debut her product in New York. She is, however, considering exhibiting at Magic, which has been dramatically upping its footwear offering. “The only thing I have to be convinced on is that my customers and [similar] brands will be there,” she said.
The retail divide between the trade events has become more apparent during the last several seasons. While large department stores have attended FFANY, independents, for the most part, still favor WSA.
“For independent retailers, it’s so important that they have a national show,” said Chuck Schuyler, president of the National Shoe Retailers Association, adding that the majority of NSRA members attend WSA.
“We met with [WSA] and they assured us that they are strongly committed to independent retailers and having them be an integral part of the show,” said Schuyler, whose organization holds its biannual conference at WSA.
“We’re thrilled with the dates and the one location. That’s so important. Any time that’s lost traveling between venues costs [retailers] a lot of money.”
Isack Fadlon, owner of Sportie LA in Los Angeles, said his team attends WSA and occasionally FFANY, so it “won’t have a huge impact.” He praised ENK’s decision to move the show under one roof. “That’s fantastic. It means they are listening,” he said.
For other independents that cater to a fashion-driven audience, the situation is more complicated.
Even though Las Vegas is closer to David Beren’s home base in California, the owner of Arthur Beren Shoes said he would opt for New York because of the mix of fashion brands. “We can accomplish more here,” Beren said while attending FFANY last week.
Others were less certain about what they will do.
“The question for me will be, which should I attend?” said Tarek Hassan, co-owner of Boston-based The Tannery. “Coming from the East Coast, it’s is always nice to go to warmer weather in February and, of course, have everything under one roof. However, [the most recent show] didn’t leave a good taste in anybody’s mouth.”