February 22, 2009
Las Vegas Market Week redux
It was an intense week. I did not take a lot of pictures, so this will be a text-heavy post.
We were supposed to leave on Sunday. We arrived at the airport and boarded a tiny plane, taxied out to the runway, and then turned around and went back to the terminal. There was some sort of mechanical problem. The ladies at the desk transferred us onto another flight on Monday morning.
When we got to the airport the next morning, we found out after waiting in line for a long time that our transfers were not done properly and we were not allowed to get on the flight. The next flight we could get on was later that afternoon and it would have been too late – we needed to get the booth set up before 6pm. So we had to book a new one-way flight with another airline. It worked out okay but it was incredibly frustrating, who would have thought crossing a continent would be so difficult.
Finally getting in the air felt like a miracle. I do not fly very frequently (this is my third airplane trip, ever) so I spend almost all of the time with my forehead on the window. My favourite parts are takeoffs and landings.
Look at Toronto! It was a perfect clear day all across the continent and I was fascinated to see all the farms and towns and foothills unfolding below me like a quilt dusted with icing sugar.
It was a rainy, cool day in Las Vegas, not at all warm and sunny like I hoped for. Once on the ground it still felt like we were struggling against a tide of adversity as we waited in line for 40 minutes to get the rental car. When we finally got to the Convention center for the trade show there was just enough time to steam the entire collection and hang it up on the booth. We went back to the hotel for giant burgers and went to sleep.
I wish I had taken more photos of the trade show, but I mostly forgot, or I was stopped by the security people. We were close to the windows so we had lots of natural light. We also had lovely neighbors – The Recycled Dead and Choye Toi both from Los Angeles. There were lots of people from LA at the show, and they all were incredibly hip, very social and friendly.
The other exhibitors were all very generous and kind. Snoflake from Toronto, and Feral Childe from Brooklyn were our good friends at the show and shared some of the things they had learned from previous shows.
The first day was the busiest. Butikofer received a lot of compliments. Adrienne’s fabrics are so soft and easy to care for, she chose great colours, and the designs are strong and feminine at the same time. She even got interviews with a couple of major newspapers which was exciting. But I will let Adrienne tell her own story in her own time – she talks about starting a blog and I hope she does because she has a characteristic, candid and poetic style of writing.
That evening we dropped by GUILD where my friend Philip Sparks was showing. It was a very different kind of show, in a fancy hotel, where each designer had a room of their own. There, the buyers were coming from very high end stores around the world.
The images for GUILD’s promotional material and the website were created by Designerman Richard Haines, who Philip and I had met briefly in New York last fall. I missed Richard at the show which was disappointing because I wanted to talk to him about all the great gigs he’s been doing! I would love to be a blogger “mascot” at a trade show. POOL also had a blogger feature, an exhibit by Face Hunter, though Yvan was not in town, apparently he could not be flown in because of the economy.
Later that night was the POOL party at a place called the “Beauty Bar” which was up on the older part of the strip. I was expecting a hotel bar, but actually it was a hipster bar on a side street, and the cab driver did not want to let me out by myself in that neighborhood. Inside it was very smoky (everyone smokes inside in Las Vegas, and almost all of the rooms are scented, I found the interiors to be rather suffocating as a non-smoker) and full of people who put on the show and friends. I did not know anyone there and was feeling kind of vulnerable, being bumped into by all the drunk guys so I did not stay long.
The second day, PROJECT started and the drop in traffic at POOL was remarkable. I had lots of time to go and check out all the other shows – PREMIUM, STREET, and MAGIC, and many of them seemed kind of quiet too, lots of exhibitors hanging out in their booths and not very many buyer badges in the halls. I have never been to market week in Las Vegas before, but the atmosphere could be described as a kind of futile optimism, and towards the end of the show, exhausted resignation. Without experience as a point of reference, it is hard to say how the show went, but I had expected to see more traffic from an international, famous show.
On Wednesday night, we went to a meetup with members of Fashion-Incubator. It was organized by Eric Busboom of Retailing Together and Clarinova. Among other new friends, we got to meet JC Sprowls who is a frequent contributer to F-I and also an entrepreneur with a sample shop called Studio 9 Apparel. Discussion was lively and ranged across the subjects near and dear to designer-entrepreneurs and the service providers who work with them.
After we packed up on Thursday night, Adrienne and I drove up the strip to the Bellagio to see the fountains – and they were magnificent. She took me into a casino and talked me into playing a slot machine, where I promptly lost $3 – she won $25.
I have never been a great believer in mysticism, but something about the show and the entire city was so intense and strange. Whether you are in a burger joint, on the highway, watching TV or walking along the aisles of the show, you can feel people stress. The only place that you can not feel it is in the casinos, where there is another kind of weirdness that I have never felt anything like before and can not even describe properly. The week had many memorable moments high and low, and overall the experience was both fascinating and psychologically heavy.