ILS April 2016 Recap
What’s the best way to experience a lingerie trade show in Las Vegas?
Story & Photos by Luis Paredes.
Walk through the casino first and absorb the sounds of clapping casino chips, the bounce of dice on felt, and the clatter of slot machine bells — it is the perfect overture for three days of intimates in Sin City.
That’s what I do before walking into the International Lingerie Show (ILS) at the Rio Hotel. This April, my opening routine stayed the same, but ILS unveiled two major changes — a revamped Fashion Show and educational seminars for buyers — that changed everyone’s experience.
No runway? No problem!
When Speciality Trade Shows Inc. (the ILS show organizers) announced it was getting rid of the runway and opting for a sit-down dinner, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the new format. Luckily, as a journalist, I was able to get in 30 minutes early to see the updated set up.
The Fashion Show (now Dinner) was held in the Rio’s 38,884 square foot Amazon ballroom, a huge space that’s normally dominated by a runway that juts into the center of the space.
As I walked into the room earlier this month, a sea of 200 tables surrounded a small, center stage. Around me, event coordinators shouted into headsets while waiters carried trays, utensils and wine for 2,000 guests. (ILS would later confirm 1,890 dinners were served that night.)
On the floor, arrows marked off where models would flow from the room’s edges towards the stage to pose and snake their way back around the ballroom for buyers to see their garments from all angles.
While I looked around, Jeff Yunis, head of ILS, shuffled up next to me and said, “You’re looking at a quarter million dollars out there.”
“Yup…we’ll see what happens. If it works, it works. If not — we’ll change it.”
Looking back at the exchange, I think Jeff and the ILS team had the right attitude. To some, the Fashion Show Dinner might have seemed like a gamble, but I think it indicates that ILS is listening to and respecting its buyers and exhibitors who have been asking for a change.
“We are practicing what we preach by trying something new.” said ILS’s show manager, Michael Moreira of the update.
Reactions were mixed with some buyers and exhibitors encouraged by the change while others preferring the original runway show.
Lillian Moss and Scott McGregor of Adam & Eve in Greenfield, Massachusetts said they were pleasantly surprised by how well the Fashion Dinner worked. They enjoyed the sit down meal versus the buffet, and the close-up view of lingerie on models.
Cubeon also suggested a shorter time frame between meals and models would have improved and shortened the Fashion Dinner experience which lasted over two hours with 192 looks from brands like Seven ’til Midnight, Rago, Julie France Shapewear, Ajour and many more.
The next day, the trade show started with Tia Lyn’s “Plus Size Your Business” seminar. Tia shared how retailers could expand their retail business by carrying more plus size brands and shared related retail advice during the hour-long presentation.
“[Tia] has always taken the time to go above-and-beyond and it has helped me grow as a brick-and-mortar. She has a store and a collection, so she really understands what I need and what my clients need,” said Jill Cataldo of the Bra Boudoir in New Jersey. “I loved the small room engagement. The Q&A session at the end was chockfull of info, advice, suggestions, and ideas from other people in the industry.”
Above: at the Tia Lyn booth.
“Because of Tia Lyn’s seminar, I was encouraged to branch out into curvy sizes,” Cubeon Pitts, Divine Pleasures.
Some other seminar topics and events on April 5 and 6, 2016 included, “The Strip Club Connection”, a product presentation by the Home Pleasure Party Plan Association, “State of the Retail Union”, and “Translating Trends to Sales” by Seven ’til Midnight’s Vinh Luong amongst others. We’ve included an online PDF of Seven ’til Midnight’s Translating Trends to Sales seminar HERE for our readers.
“The seminars were genuinely informative, not just used as ‘advertisements’ for the manufacturers. The info we got from them will be usable right away in our stores,” said Adam & Eve Greenfield’s Lillian Moss