Since its debut in July 2007, the (capsule) show has endeavored to forge a community of progressive menswear designers and emerged as one of the most influential fashion showcases in New York, Paris and Las Vegas. Here, Edina Sultanik, co-founder of BPMW, the shows’ organizer, talks about changes to the next show (Jan. 18-19) and other show biz concerns.



Why are there two sites this season?

(capsule) has expanded to two venues — we are adding the historic Puck Building, in addition to the Angel Orensanz Center where we have been located for the past five seasons. The reason for this is to accommodate some of the great brands that were previously on our wait-list. We are still as selective as ever when it comes to the brands who can participate. But as the market shifts, more and more collections fit into what we’re calling the progressive market aesthetic. We decided to expand in a slow and careful manner to accommodate additional brands while maintaining our integrity.



How long will you need to walk the show properly?

You will definitely need a least a full day. But I would recommend you stay for the full two days. We have 130 designers and all of them are directional, saleable and worth a good look. (capsule) is where tomorrow’s trends launch, so if you want to be on top of what’s new and next, you’ll spend as much time as possible with our designers.



How else have you tailored your show to the climate?

We sought out brands and products at a range of price points, from opening price point diffusion collections to high-end designer brands, to accommodate what we feel the buyers are looking for.



What kind of support do you offer your brands?

(capsule) is unique in that BPMW, the producers of the show, are also a showroom. We have a strong PR team that promotes the show to the press and makes sure the show is covered heavily by everyone from bloggers to newspapers and all the top fashion magazines worldwide. The show gets tons of coverage, which only helps build brand awareness and sales for our participating brands. In addition, our own blog, wearethemarket.com, publishes interviews and line previews with all of our participating designers, which is useful for retailers who are planning which brands to hit at the show. Our sales team already works with a huge network of the world’s best retailers. We use our retailer connections to help promote the show as well and ensure that the best buyers in the world attend our shows. Our brands know that the buyers they’re going to see at (capsule) are the cream of the crop. We’re also the only New York-based show that’s also international. Our database of international retailers and press is unparalleled and the (capsule) brand has great cache worldwide. If you’re a (capsule) brand, that’s great for your business.



And for retailers and buyers?

We believe that the biggest service we provide for retailers is the story we tell. We constantly travel and scour the globe to bring together a community of the most compelling designers. We hit fashion weeks and trade shows worldwide and rely on our Advisory Board, which is made up of the world’s most in-the-know retailers and fashion editors to make sure we have the newest and freshest designers. There’s no other show that features the brands (capsule) has. We have an amazing array of heritage brands for example. And a dozen brands from Scandinavia, which has been leading the design front for several seasons. Korean brands are making a big splash here, and we’ve got a handful of great designers from there as well. From the brands we select to the way we merchandise the show, in an easy to shop fashion, we work hard to make the (capsule) experience as easy and rewarding as possible. We also produce a very high-end guidebook that offers our visitors contact info and images of each participating collection, as well as insider created city guides of New York, Paris and Vegas.



There are a lot of people trying to reinvent the trade show experience online. Are you concerned?

The industry definitely seems to finally be dabbling in using the Internet to do business. We’ve seen many online trade shows crop up recently but for our segment of the market, which tends to want to maintain tight, focused distribution and smaller production runs than your typical mega fashion company, the online trade show is not the preferred way to conduct business. The progressive market is all about a return to craft and a personal touch. We still value one-on-one meetings, hands-on experiences with the garments. You can’t get that online.



You collaborated with Tina Berning this season. Does Capsule have any plans to become a multidisciplinary showcase?

(capsule) teams up with a different artist each season for all its branding and identity. We believe that art and design are very much a part of our lifestyle and we like to spotlight new talent in all sorts of cultural areas.



Has the main criteria for getting into the show remained the same? What are five things you look for when reviewing applications?

We look for creativity in design, quality of production, saleability, marketing and image pieces/lookbooks/videos, back story when reviewing applications. We look for brands that are authentic, have soul, are well-made and are sought after in the market place. We also require that they have established businesses and will be able to produce and ship orders taken at the show.



How crucial is having a voice online to growing one’s business?

We believe that having a dialogue with our community is very important. Whether it’s via the blog, wearethemarket.com, or via Twitter or Facebook, being able to communicate what we’re up to, is crucial to running a business today.



What do you think about shows that offer onsite sales and/or are opened up to the public?

I think different brands have different needs and if running a sale that’s open to the public at the same time as a trade show makes sense for some brands, by all means go for it.



Describe the makeup of your visitors.

Our visitors are comprised of 85% retailers, 10% editors/bloggers/stylists and 5% marketing folks, trendspotters and tastemakers.



How is the contemporary fashion trade show experience evolving?

I think we are seeing the return of more segmented, smaller shows. Tom Julian calls it narrowcasting. We’ve been successful in carving out a strong niche and sticking to it. Keeping our show downtown and focused is what makes it successful. Now Project and ENK are moving downtown and have downsized their NY shows as well. The market is shifting so that soon there will be very little overlap between the shows and buyers will be able to pick one show and get all their business done at that one show.



What brands are you excited about?

We’ve got some amazing heritage style brands including Billy Reid, SNS Herning, Our Legacy, Post Overalls, Gilded Age, and all American footwear brands Cole, Rood & Haan, Keds Quoddy, Red Wing, Timberland and the highly anticipated Mark McNairy for Bass Weejuns collection. Also, New Zealand brand Stolen Girlfriends Club has everyone excited, as well as Korean star Beyond Closet, the debut of H by Hudson sportswear, and the re-launch of Reyn Spooner — the traditional Hawaiian shirtmaker is making a comeback.



What is the state of young designer menswear?

We’re seeing a real return to craft and an artisanal approach to design. Designers want to be more involved in the production process as well as design. Men are looking for collections that are made locally, rather than in impersonal mega factories. They want to connect with the brands they buy and look for a strong history or back story in the brands they support. We are interested to see if this trend is strong enough to keep local manufacturing alive. Most factories in the US and Europe are in danger of becoming obsolete.




Showtimes for other New York shows:


ENK New York/Designers' Collective/Blue/Tomorrow/Clean – Jan. 17-19, The Tunnel, La Venue

Cargo – Jan. 18-19, 268 Mulberry Street

Project New York – Jan. 18-20, 82 Mercer Street

MRKet/Vanguard – Jan. 18-20, Javits Center