Making Trade-Show Displays Pop | California Apparel News

Kelli Freeman, Contributing Writer | Thursday, January 4, 2024

You’re a new company wanting to make a splash in the apparel industry. Now that trade shows are back in full swing, what does a first-time participant do with a standard 10×10 booth to get noticed?

If you don’t have a lot of appointments booked, you will need to rely on show traffic. To achieve the marketing buzz, establish new relationships and write orders, you need to have a mechanism that raises the curiosity of the passing buyer.

“Keep it simple; messaging is critical,” said John Funk, president of the California-based Skyline Displays of Orange County exhibit solutions, which works with an array of industries. “Attendees usually come to shows to see what’s new or to get a solution to a problem. “Smart exhibitors speak to one or both of those reasons,” said Funk. “Your exhibit is a billboard, not a bulletin board. Attendees are not particularly interested in who is exhibiting but rather why you are exhibiting.”

From a visual standpoint, Funk notes, the big trend now includes brilliant, large-format, backlit images that have an easy teardown and fold up for transport. The use of LED tiles for large motion imaging and video content can be quite spectacular, he said.

Trideep Das is the owner and managing director of the Chicago-based brand-marketing agency Jollybrowne Brand Design, representing consumer brands in the apparel and golf industries for 13 years. Jollybrowne went into trade-show-booth design five years ago when a client asked for help designing a booth for two apparel shows.

“I was very familiar with both shows but certainly never looked at it from the standpoint of what went in to creating the space,” said Das, who now looks at it through the lens of someone who would be coming to the show to buy versus the brand and what they’re trying to express.

An example of Jollybrowne’s work is the San Juan Capistrano, Calif.–based Pacific Silk booth, a collection of accessories that tells the story of what makes its product unique. Product is placed closer to the aisles so those unfamiliar with the brand can touch and feel a silk scarf or knit tie.

“Neckwear, accessories, pocket squares and scarves are like candy. “Just like in the grocery store where they put candy in the checkout line, we wanted to put those things that excite people along the aisle and get them to stop,” said Das.

“We thought it was very important to invest in our booth presentation for two reasons,” said Geoff Nicholson, partner in Pacific Silk. “First, to show appreciation to our current customers. It’s important that our customers are inspired when they come from all over the country to see our new collections. The second reason is to attract potential new customers that may have never heard of or seen us before.

“Our booth built by Jollybrowne is a great way to tell the story about Pacific Silk. Buyers should be able to walk by our booth and see immediately what we stand for. ROI has been great, noted Nicholson.

Rebecca Vasslides has been with England-based Barbour for nearly five years. As trade marketing manager, she maximizes the resources she has and partners with many display companies, including Jollybrowne, to execute the display designs she created. Barbour also incorporates tension graphics and LED lightboxes to enhance the overall look. The “wow” factor is how mannequins and props are used to create a customer’s story.

“Barbour has been known in the US market as a ‘jacket company’; however, with these displays we are able to communicate Barbour as a ‘lifestyle brand,’ transform it into a real-life moment, capturing not only the brand’s heritage but also the designers’ and global teams’ vision for the seasonal collection,” noted Vasslides.

Erika Welling has over two decades working in Las Vegas, including as senior sales manager, national sales, at Global Experience Specialistswhere she created the overall show looks for The Exclusive menswear show. “Your product is the message, so be bold and brilliant—one in one item to attract attention,” said Welling. “You can use anything to make it pop; the point is to make it of value to achieve your return on investment.”

Steve Felder has been with the Chicago-based family business Alex Displays for 32 years, with a large percentage of clients in the apparel industry. One of those is the France-based Molly Bracken for 20 years. Felder’s advice for new companies looking at a 10×10: “Consider not take the show package exhibit to help you stand out, but work with a display house to help you achieve that,” said Felder.

“In Las Vegas, we branded our booth with four large LED logos and over 20 mannequins. You can’t miss us!” said David Perlman, North America brand manager for Molly Bracken. “My signature is always to have the clothing on the outside of the booth so retailers can touch and feel it when they walk by. I believe in keeping the booth open and inviting.”