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I also wanted to ask him about the competition, like Agenda, and about that whole ultimate fighting element that was at the September show. I know that trend is gaining in popularity, but it seemed like a peculiar melding of cultures.
Here's the ASR update:
The 300-page book that listed all the exhibitors and included profiles and advertising is moving online. Some retailers complained that the books arrived late and they weren't able to bring it to the show. It was also hard for brands to get product images to ASR in time to meet deadlines because of product calendar issues.
The LineUp will now live online for six months. Brands can still advertise and retailers can access contact information whenever they want without having to keep the phone book-size directory around the office. It should be out sometime this month on the ASR Web site
Thursday-Saturday: Nearly every show in the next 10 years will move to a Thursday-Saturday format. Companies like PacSun, Zumiez, Nordstrom and Dillards like their buyers to work a traditional work week as much as possible, Tompkins said. Plus, he hopes to avoid the severe drop-off in attendance on Sundays.
With the change, Thursday and Friday will be the more professional buying days and Saturday will be the community day, he said.
The seminars are increasingly focused on educating retailers about different issues - staff training, inventory management, exchange rates, merchandising. "Anything we can do to help the retailer at any level will help ASR in the long run," Tompkins said.
Mixed Martial Arts: About five companies were at the September show and were easy to notice. Personally, I found the violent ultimate fighting videos playing on the show floor a little jarring.
Some retailers are carrying some of the MMA apparel and ASR "wants to be inclusive," Tompkins said.
He's trying to be sensitive to the mixing of cultures, however. At the January show, there's only one brand, and for future shows ASR may create a "show within a show" for the group. "For MMA to grow, they need their own place to blossom," he said. The group may move upstairs and retailers who are interested can seek them out.
I talked to Tompkins about Agenda, the offshoot show during ASR were many smaller, fashion forward brands exhibit. "They've done a great job," he said. "They satellite off our audience, of course. They speak to a younger, more streetwear market and ASR has not been as good in that area. But as the brands grow, like LRG and RVCA, they move to ASR."
Big shows like Magic in Las Vegas are also competitors, of course, but increasingly regional show rooms used by manufacturers to sell directly to retailers have also done a good job, he said. "The regional shows have been pretty effective."
That's one reason ASR tries to make its trade show about more than just the product and includes mini ramps, fashion shows, seminars, parties and launches in the three-day gathering.