The good, bad, and ugly of attending a fashion trade show

The fashion industry can seem super glamorous, prestigious, and can be veiled with mystery. I ain’t down with that. I think fashion should be for everyone!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go to a big fashion trade show, I’m here to give you the low-down. I just got back from WWD Magic, one of the biggest apparel shows in the U.S., and thought it’d be fun to give you guys a little recap of what it's like! It can seem like a shopaholic’s dream, and to some extent that’s true, but I’m here to peel back some of the glamour and sparkle, and give you the good, the bad, and the ugly from my experience.

THE GOOD

One stop shop

Perhaps the very best thing about one of these huge trade shows, is that it truly is a one stop shop for everything you could want to see in your store. They have everything from juniors apparel and luxury brands, to shapewear and fanny packs. If you’re looking for a certain style of product, you are sure to find it at the show as long as you do a little research beforehand. It’s also great that, along with all the name brands everyone knows and loves, there are tons of small and unique vendors that most people have never heard of! My goal with Rollick has always been to bring you styles and brands you won’t necessarily get at your local department store or Amazon, and to find those hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else!

Seminars

Something I have found so valuable about this show is all of the free seminars they put on throughout the week. They are led by industry experts who know their shizz, and provide invaluable insight into all different aspects the apparel industry and business ownership. These seminars range from social media strategy, to how to manage your ‘open to buy’, to what apps to use to best run your business! I absolutely love learning from people who have “been there”, and so the seminars are probably my favorite part of the show (not to mention you get to sit down ha).

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The people

There’s something about being around motivated and hard-working people that really gets me jazzed, and this show is full of ‘em. There were people there literally from all over the world, from all different sizes of businesses, all doing their best to be successful and to share their passions with their customers. I loved getting to chat with all sorts of people and to hear their stories of what they do and why.

See emerging trends first

Magic is a great place to see what’s trending now, and what’s coming down the pipeline over the next few seasons. Some common threads I saw running through a ton of vendors: No surprise, but off-the-shoulder blouses and ruffles were still eeeeverywhere and lace-up styles don’t seem to be going anywhere either. Bold geo prints are sneaking their way in, and - wait for it - tie dye was EVERYwhere! The Lisa Frank lover in me is actually pretty stoked about that one ;).

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THE BAD

The food

I don’t know why someone doesn’t seize the opportunity that lies within crappy convention food. Your choices range from Sbarro pizza, to Nathan’s hot dogs, to (what I ended up with one day…) Sun Chips and cookie. Talk about fuel! *eye roll*

sad sandwich

On my second day, I paid $13 for this sad sad sandwich. My soul is still recovering from that one...

The feet

You’re surrounded by some of the most fashionable people while you’re at these shows, so naturally you want to look like your most badass self, and rock your coolest outfit! But then you walk 20,000 steps in a day and are thinking that maybe the sneakers would’ve been a better choice. By the end of the day, I had a bit of a new swagger to my walk (aka - my feet are swollen and I can’t move normally).

The overwhelm

If you’ve ever heard of the paradox of choice, this show literally epitomizes the anxiety that comes when given too many options. There are thousands upon thousands of garments there, and to narrow it down to the BEST 50 for you guys is just mind-numbing. Think of going through the clearance rack at Marshalls for 2 days straight, trying to pick out the perfect present for a friend. It’s all worth it to find those real gems, but a little bit of overwhelm definitely sets in when looking at that much product.

P.S.

Side note, and this is completely specific to my experience - When you spend $6 on a precious Starbucks coffee, and are about to get on the shuttle, and the driver tells the people in front of you that you can’t have beverages, so you hide yours in your purse, and you get to your seat, pull out your coffee, and the bus lurches forward, so you spill half of it on the crotch of your jeans, and look like you peed yourself, and smell like a vanilla latte for the rest of the day - That’s karma. Leave the coffee at the hotel...

THE UGLY

Both times I have attended Magic have been incredibly positive experiences overall. I have learned SO much, met fantastic people, and have grown as a person by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Isn’t it funny, though, how among so many great encounters and amazing people, one single negative experience can be the one thing that sticks with you?

Before the show, I had seen a brand on Instagram that I was interested in carrying in Rollick. They have some funny tees and an overall casual vibe that I really liked, so I went over to their booth to check ‘em out! I mentioned to the gal I was talking to that my shop is new, small, and online-only for now, since I know that not every brand is okay with that. If, at that moment, she would’ve told me, “Y’know, unfortunately we only sell to the big guys online for now”, I would have been perfectly happy to be on my way. Instead, she told me to take a seat at a desk, while her employee looked up my store on the computer right in front of me. I sat there awkwardly, while this 23 year-old was judging my business - my sweat, blood, and tears - before my very eyes. After a couple minutes of looking at the screen, the employee disappeared. She came back a minute later and with the most catty and disingenuous look she said, “We’ll letcha know…”.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It felt like my Pleather Pants Story all over again, as all my insecurities and self-doubt came rushing back. Walking away, all I could hear in my head was my own voice saying “Is my site total shit?” “Am I a joke for trying to do this?” “Who do I really think I am?”

I was pretty bummed for a couple hours, but finally it hit me. “NO KELLY...this is exactly why you created Rollick in the first place.” Those pretentious, mean-girls are running rampant through the fashion industry, touting their “I’m too good for you” attitude, and it’s BS.

Someday, maybe that brand will be wishing they could be carried in my store (that’s a big maybe). But until then, I’m happy to carry brands that are for all of us, and that contribute to my overall goal: to let YOU DO YOU!

I can't wait for you all to see what fun things I have in store for you over the next few months...I think you're gonna' love em :).

Cheers!

Kelly

wwd magic las vegas

Comments

6 comments

Betsy

Good for you not letting that snot-noses kid affect your self worth! A snotty attitude just invalidates and cred on their part as far as I’m concerned.

Barbara

You go girl! You are just too good to let snarkiness get in your way—and they know it! Love watching Rollick grow!!! (and Wilma…….)

Maria

Keep going Kelly! When I was in Interior Design school, we had a field trip to the Seattle Design Center to work on a school project. Some of the ladies at the Design Center were such bitches to us student. I just thought to myself.. “ok.. I am going to remember which showrooms treated me with respect and which were rude to me.. and when I’m a working designer I will not return to these showroom”.

Fast forward a couple years and I am working on a $30 million home. I was the top selling Designer in the entire Design Center for 4 years in a row. Every showroom was rolling out the red carpet (and champagne) when I walked in. I was selling $18,000 sofas and $90,000 dining room sets with no problem! Those “mean girls” missed out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. I walked by their showroom with my head held high and a smirk on my face! I had the last laugh.. ;-)

…stick to YOUR goals.. and YOUR dreams.
There is only ONE Kelly Marie Hughes Jensen!!

Kelly

:) Thanks so much Kristen and Allison!! It was definitely a great experience overall, and even the negatives only help to motivate me even more :). Can’t wait to show off what I found!

Kristen

What an interesting experience! Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you were able to remind yourself what your purpose with Rollick is and leave those mean girls behind. You are doing awesome and I can’t wait to see what comes next!!

Allison

Wow, sounds like such an incredible experience! Amazing that that would be any businesses way of operating – way to pep talk yourself out of the funk and what an awesome chance to reconnect with why you are doing this in he first place! Can’t wait to see the new stuff, I’m insanely happy to hear that tie dye is in.

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