When editors of magazines like GQ and Details gather with administration from retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales to advise the assembly of a trade show that savvy public relations firm, Brand Pimps, executes, the result is Capsule Trade Show.
Through July 23 and 24, Capsule was the venue for 50 designers whose obscurity is an attribute to their uniqueness. â€œWe scoured the world for the 50 coolest, independent, progressive menswear designers that we could find and we invited them to the show,â€ says Edina Sultanik Silver, co-founder of Brand Pimps.
The success of Capsule may be attracting over 700 buyers in two days, however, by fusing a healthy mix of casual and tailored fashion that includes S2VS, Wood Wood and No Mas, Capsule is spearheading a higher level of street couture.
“We scoured the world for the 50 coolest, independent, progressive menswear designers that we could find and we invited them to the show.”
Format: Please explain your role in Capsule and how Capsule came together.
Edina Sultanik Silver: Iâ€™m one of the co-founders of Brand Pimps and we were the producers of the show.
Format: How was your turnout?
Edina: We had over 700 buyers and they were all the best buyers in the world. All the great stores, everyone from Bill Hallman, Fred Segal, Scoop, Barneys, Saks and a lot of Japanese stores and Canadian stores. The turnout for buyers was great and there were a lot of great editors there, too.
Format: What sets Capsule apart from fashion trade shows like MAGIC or Bread and Butter?
Edina: First of all, itâ€™s a much smaller show, we only had 50 designers. It was a highly selective show. We scoured the world for the 50 coolest, independent, progressive menswear designers that we could find and we invited them to the show. We didnâ€™t announce the show to people, so we were not solicited by brands, we hand picked the brands. MAGIC is much more mass market orientated and weâ€™re catering towards small boutiques and specialty stores. We wanted to foster a sense of discovery and a sense of community at our show. The show was about commerce, but it was also about community â€“ we really wanted to do business, but we wanted everyone to join together to grow businesses together.
Format: MAGIC and Bread and Butter feature several streetwear brands, however, Capsule is leading its trade show in a different direction. Are there any challenges in straying from the streetwear trade show formula the other trade shows follow?
Edina: I think the direction of menswear is moving away from premium denim. I think denim and streetwear are still important, but I think men are looking for collections, so I think a contemporary market for men will build up and I think there are a lot of menswear designers that design collections by taking casual elements mixed with tailored elements and thatâ€™s what Capsule focuses on.
Format: Of the 50 brands that Capsule selected, did any of the brands provide clothing for women?
Edina: About 20 of them did womenswear, as well. The show started out with a menswear focus, but itâ€™s really both.
Format: What entertainment features did Capsule offer?
Edina: We had a great DJ, for starters, and we had really great food, which is rare at a trade show. We didnâ€™t want to do too much to take away from the business at hand. A lot of people came and they wanted to work, thatâ€™s what these shows are all about. But we did have element called the Time Capsule that invited different industries to submit three items that would represent a snap shot of what was cool right now. We put those items on display on the lower level of the venue.
Format: A lot a people attend trade shows with the impression that theyâ€™re going to walk away with the next trend. What trends did you see at Capsule?
Edina: I really feel that blacks, grays and whites are still going to be very strong, but I was surprised to see a lot of colors out there, as well. I donâ€™t know if the average, regular guy will wear it, but a lot of designers were showing bright, bright colors for next season. I think the nu rave element from Europe is influencing America. I saw skinny silhouettes, but maybe a little more relaxed. I saw a lot of dropped crotched pants, vests are getting big and I think there are a lot of blending of tailored looks with casual, so youâ€™ll get a tuxedo front shirt made out of T-shirt material.
Format: Capsulesâ€™ board of advisors has a huge range of professionals on it. How did you assemble all these people?
Edina: These guys are the kingpins of the industry and you canâ€™t get bigger than Kevin Harter who is the fashion director at Bloomingdales, or Michael Macko of Saks. As far as the little boutiques that are making headlines, someone like Joseph Quartana of Seven â€“ these guys are the big dogs. The editors, too, like Brian Coats from GQ, Tyler Thoreson of Men.style.com, these guys really call the shots and influence a lot of things. We have relationships with these people and theyâ€™re always willing to help with things. They gave us their names, gave us their support and their help.
Format: How did you attract the retailers?
Edina: Brand Pimps operates a sales showroom and we represent about 12 brands. We work with a lot of the top retailers across the country and we have strong relationships with them. In addition, we encouraged participating designers to invite their contacts. We did a lot of PR outreach, too.
Format: Hotel accommodations and restaurants are two of the several considerations for Capsule attendees. How do you organize everything with ease?
Edina: We started late in the season. We did it quickly, I think spent three or four months on it total. As far as little details like hotels, itâ€™s a no-brainer, people are coming from out of town and need a place to stay, and there so many great hotels on the Lower East Side. We tried to partner up with hotels, caterers and local businesses.
Format: There are stories from MAGIC about brands making crass comments to each other. Essentially, all the brands are competition and are gathered in one venue. How do you diffuse tension at Capsule?
Edina: We didnâ€™t have any tension. I think everyone got a long and was happy to be there. I donâ€™t think things were duplicated, everyone was so unique that each one of these designers stand on their own. No one was next to someone they didnâ€™t like or thought they were better than the other designer.
Format: Is Capsule exclusive to New York City?
Edina: No, weâ€™re thinking about other cities right now.
Format: Sometimes, trade shows attract celebrities who place faces on the trade shows. Will Capsule try to use celebrities to attract attention?
Edina: We talked about it and we work with other trade shows so we know the ups and downs of that. The focus of this show, right now, is for brands and retailers to do business. I think if you have celebrities coming it may draw attention to the show and get it more press, but I donâ€™t know if it will help sell clothing to a retailer. While we would love to have celebrities and musicians to come, because it would be very appropriate for them to come, I donâ€™t think itâ€™s crucial for the success of the event. But if a band wants to come and make contacts with designers I think itâ€™s a great place for them to come.
Format: How does Capsule attract sponsors?
Edina: Sponsors definitely help the show, especially with young designers participating that may or may not be able to pay fees. There are a lot of costs involved in doing a show like this. We definitely welcome sponsors. One of the largest benefits of sponsoring a show like this is getting your brand in front of the coolest people in the world â€“ youâ€™re getting the most influential buyers, designers and journalists, and to get your product into their hands at such an intimate venue is tremendously valuable for a brand.