Building a trade show is a lot like building a garden—they both require planning, maintenance and patience. That’s the lesson BPD Washhouse Owner Bill Curtin learned after launching BPD Blueprint Denim Expo, an interactive boutique show for denim mills, local producers and pattern makers, last June in New York.
“We learned that the visitors like the intimate atmosphere of the first expo. You always have the drive to grow the show big, but we need to be aware of the uniqueness we have created and maintain it,” Curtin said. He added, “The first show was organized so quickly. This time we have more time to enjoy the process of creating a truly unique experience.”
The two-day show returns December 9-10 with more exhibitors, a new location, an on-site denim flea market stocked with rare finds, demonstrations by experts from BPD Washhouse and “Trend Therapy” sessions where attendees can have their individual questions answered by a denim expert.
The show boasts 15 exhibitors (compared to 10 in June), including Kurabo from Japan, Romatex from Mexico, Absolute Denim from Thailand, Indian mills KG Denim and Mafatlals Industries, Seazon from China and U.S.-based labels and trims maker, Cadica Group. The expo will also host its first buying agency, Matrix. “[Matrix] handles Pakistan and Bangladesh. We like having them because they can help the sourcing departments of the brands navigate through that part of the world,” Curtin said.
Curtin noted that the decision to relocate the show to Wooster Street in SoHo came down to a space issue, but added that it was important to maintain the same storefront setup from the previous show. “We out grew it,” Curtin said of the initial Meatpacking space. “We are still boutique-style… We avoid any spaces that have had trade shows in the past. We find locations that are virgin spaces to this type of format. It keeps it fresh,” he explained.
On the second day of the show, Michelle Branch, a denim veteran who has worked with mills, brands and wash developers in North America and Europe, will tailor all aspects of trend for Spring ’17, from fit, silhouettes, wash and color to street style and global trends to attendees signed up for “Trend Therapy” sessions. “We are lucky to have Michelle Branch be our trend therapist… She is approachable and not overbearing, so when you step into her office at the expo, she will make you feel relaxed and you can tell her all your denim dilemmas,” Curtin said.
“We thought of how we could make the trend portion of the show extremely relevant to the individual. Your ideas, your categories, your needs. It’s all about you and what you need. If you do kids denim, it is how the trends pertain to your market. If you design for juniors, it’s geared towards that. Simple really,” he continued.
Not all aspects of running a trade show is that simple, but Curtin feels like he and the Blueprint team is on the right track. “We feel we are launching BPD Blueprint Denim Expo just at the right time—just when the New York City denim crowd was hungry for something new,” Curtin said. “Your biggest liability is getting old and complacent. You need to constantly reinvent… It [is] always in the back of my mind.”