January 26, 2012

"Trading Spaces"

Two weeks ago, we discussed in our blog, “Once Upon a Boutique,” a new shift taking over the marketplace towards a more personal and specialized way of doing business. Today, we would like to take this idea one step further as we begin to notice a trickle across effect into innovative tradeshow concepts that are more unique.

Most of us have been to some type of tradeshow whether it be a gift show, a car show, beauty show, etc. Think large, crowded and bland looking warehouse building that is very, very brightly lit. A bit overwhelming, no? Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the first ever Continuum Show, which was held in conjunction with the established and successful Kingpins Show, a global denim and jeans supply chain show. The Continuum is a unique tradeshow that brings together the most progressive and innovative solutions to product sustainability. Both of these boutique tradeshows not only offer a friendlier and more specialized atmosphere, but very exclusively chosen exhibitors as well as invite only attendees.

photo via The Continuum

Unlike many of the other tradeshows, which set up booths or cubicle type arrangements, both Continuum and Kingpins break the boundaries. Imagine stepping into a room filled with a lighter vibe, hip music, and upon entering you are immediately greeted with a smile. As you look around each carefully selected vendor is equipped with racks, couches, and a helpful, knowledgeable staff, not to mention an innovative product assortment. It feels as if you are in a cozy room of mini showrooms, with the next one only steps away. Even the refreshments are inviting, which are not only complimentary but give off a homey, welcoming feel served on white dishware.

At Continuum, one of the most noticeable assets of the show was that everyone really cared about doing the right thing in regards to being sustainable. From vertical suppliers to waterless production to organic cottons, solar powered factories, and recycled materials, this tradeshow had it all including a laser wash demonstration hosted by Jeanologia. What's the concept behind the show you ask? Well according to one of its co-founders, Anne Gillespie, "Product sustainability is not an endpoint, rather it is a movement along a continuum towards a fully sustainable system that balances economic, social, and environmental factors."

Upstairs, the bi-annual Kingpins Show, showcased two floors of an array of casual wear crazed vendors specializing in cottons and denims in everything from fashion novelty to premium, organic, recycled, tencel, and the list goes on. Not to mention, lycra was everywhere! Simply put, it's a small friendly gathering of people who love denim! Whoever said it's hard to find a good fitting pair of jeans worry not, for the future is fit for you, literally!

Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Olah, founder of The Kingpins Show as well as co-founder of The Continuum Show. He explained to us that after all the headaches he experienced when traveling to Europe for trade shows, he decided why not cut down travel expenses and have one right down the block? In his words, "A bad tradeshow is like a bad supermarket" and we couldn't agree more! From here, The Kingpins Show was born, open to anyone who makes any product in jeans regardless of where they are positioned in the market, and now shows in NY, LA, Hong Kong, India, and Shanghai. This past season sparked the creation of the Continuum Show as a way to recognize companies with the correct idea in terms of sustainability. With this in mind, he explained how he sought after cutting edge companies that represented spirit and authenticity. The goal is to have a great show, in a great place and have some fun in the process.

With so many tradeshows going on during the same time frame from the U.S. to Europe, what kind of show is going to appeal to you? In our opinion, it’s about the experience, the comfort level, and connecting to others, all while being exposed to the most innovative leaders and products in the industry. We will only get more and more acquainted as this mindset of small, personal, and specialized continues to trickle across from space to space! So stay tuned for our report on Berlin fashion week!


  1. Thanks for the article! Our showrooms are doing the same set up - an open, showroom set up in New York when all the crazy showrooms are going on and we will be presenting a select group of designers at the Strand Hotel. It's great to see this concept catching on. I have been to tradeshows and shown there and honestly, I don't know how buyers find the right product for their stores! We are focusing on smaller events that give retailers and designers individualized attention and even though we are showrooms, we are working with partners and developing programs that will support the retailers who support our designers.

    And it is even more wonderful to find sustainability to be a big issue as well! I have found that ethical designers need to be with the mainstream industry so they can reach a broad range of stores, but they also need to be in the spotlight for how they do business. Thanks so much for sharing this and showing a new way to do business in the industry. It's very encouraging to those of us looking to do business in a different way.

  2. Thanks for this informative and well written article as more and more people gets aware of product design in the sustainable era the pressure will also be on all companies to make sure they can meet their promises regarding ethical standards therefore to meet in smaller and one by one environment is essential for smaller brands particular to meet and that does not need to be London, Tokyo or Paris. local business meetings and collaborations across branches is needed when a full sustainable life cycle for a product is the final objective (hard, but just do one thing is better than not doing anything) in 2000 as the Trend specialist for Levi Strauss Co I presented mega trends 2000 and we pinpointed that a reaction towards big brands exploiting global resources will happen and that a new form of producing products in the future will be based on sustainability and it took them a few years before they really started to do a few steps. Anyhow happy I found this by a tip from a friend. take care. Save the planet on jean at the time Kenneth


Creative Commons License
MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at mbf-trendtalk.blogspot.com.