Leslie Gallin from FN Platform: People will continue to shop

May 28, 2019 United States
Beginning in August 2019, MAGIC will move to a single venue, allowing its many shows to exist as curated neighbourhoods within one single campus. We took the opportunity to discuss this issue and others with Leslie Gallin Informa Exhibitions, the owner of trade shows such as Project, MRket, FN Platform, WWDMagic, has announced an update about its fashion event MAGIC. Beginning in August 2019, MAGIC will move to a single venue, allowing its many shows to exist as unique, curated neighbourhoods within one single campus. This means the men’s shows that are currently located at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center will move to the Las Vegas Convention Center to combine with the footwear and women’s shows that take place there now
We spoke to Leslie Gallin, President of Footwear at Informa, to understand a bit better about the rationale behind this decision and took the opportunity to discuss with her some of the pressing issues of the moment within the footwear industry.

The main milestones marking the industry in recent years

For Leslie it is clear that technology has changed it all: “The advent of a 360 brand and purchasing information marks the industry. We now see the importance for all brands and retailers to have an Omnichanel presence”. Brands need to have an online presence, managing their website and social media, and can’t be absent from the brick and mortar sphere. In Leslie’s view, “telling a story is key”, and brands should utilise the internet to visually tell that story and “take advantage of the technology in order to show how the shoes are made, where they come from and who are the people involved”. Obviously, technology and the elevation of the internet to our daily routines gave the consumer (final user, wholesaler, retailer) an appetite for even more information. More than considering this as a threat companies should see it as an opportunity. In Leslie’s words: “We now can bring our brands to life even on small marketing budgets”.

The new FN Platform format

Beginning in August 2019, MAGIC will move to a single venue, allowing its many shows to “exist as unique, curated neighbourhoods within one single campus”. Leslie tell us all about it: “When the expansion announcement by the Las Vegas Convention Centre was made we recognized the LVCC would be large enough upon completion of the expansion to properly house all of Magic. Magic historically had been using two venues for our events, (Mandalay Bay Convention Center and the Las Vegas Convention

The news challenges of the industry

The rhythm of changes has been increasing immensely in the last few years. Sustainability, ecommerce, digital, the new savvy consumer. We all got used to these terms by now, but at times it can be confusing to navigate in this context. Leslie gives us some views on this: “everyone needs to be looking forward”. In her opinion one cannot ignore Generation Z as they will hold substantial buying power shortly. And they are peculiar about the products they are looking for: they care about sustainabilityand people behind the brand, they are on the go all the time and have embraced shopping and sharing as part of their daily routine. Brands will have to adapt to this and respond shortly, otherwise they will miss the train.

Main challenges of the footwear industry

And what will be the main challenges of the footwear industry in the coming years?

“Unity. The USA had been known for a strong comradery in both footwear manufacturers and retailers. Having a trade event whereby the owners and heads of companies are present, and buyers can see trends and full product collections all under one roof. Maximizing time and costs.  What is challenging is landing on the next hot item at the right price. But seriously, relationships will be key to success- be it brand loyalty, people, suppliers, banks …it takes all relationships to ensure a healthy business.

How about the impacts of this new wave of digital consumption and the crisis we are witnessing in the brick and mortar? “The reality of brick and mortar is – the retailer needs to provide an inviting environment – product assortment changes more rapidly, use of social media to bring customers into the store- events – speakers – food and wine tastings and product launches…People are and will continue to shop, we just need to be in all of the places to catch their attention.  Retailers need to go out of their comfort zone and bring in new brands to their mix.  Become involved in the community and ensure your being covered in the press and online. And in this context, Leslie believes there will be room for trade fairs to continue: ”People want to touch, feel and interact in order to create trusting and lasting relationships. Think about it, you buy from who you like and who you trust. Digital cannot replace the human touch.  It is an enhancement which can help for re-orders and sales but not for the initial sale”.

About Leslie Gallin – President Footwear, Informa Markets

As President of Footwear for Informa Markets, Leslie Gallin is responsible for international footwear trade events in the industry – FN PLATFORM, Sole Commerce and Project Sole NYC. Leslie is credited with building the fashion industry’s premier gathering of Women’s, Men’s, Junior’s and Children’s footwear – FN PLATFORM.  Throughout the years, Leslie has held prominent positions at Geoffrey Beene (Vice President), Escada (Director Northeastern Sales), Louis Feraud (Western US Sales), and Pauline Trigere (Sales Manager), and was instrumental in the licensing brands and the expansion of product offerings, launching shoes, jewelry and fragrances.  She also created one of the first shop-in-boutiques for Geoffrey Beene at Saks Fifth Avenue. Leslie was the previously the driving force behind WSA, The Collections at WSA luxury footwear trade show.  She is credited with transforming the event from 50 vendors to over 400.