For a while now I have been thinking of putting up my own guide for visiting tradeshows – mainly as a blogger but if you are interested in visiting one as a guest too, there might be some interesting points in this post for you. Or, perhaps you just want an insight to what it is like to be a lingerie blogger visiting tradeshows! In my post I will be telling you about the two tradeshows I have visited so far, Moda in Birmigham and SIL in Paris – and telling you the tips and tricks of visiting your favourite brands and making connections with them. Let’s get on with it then! *Disclosure: this post was inspired by an old post created for the Bosom Bloggers (an online bra blogger group I am still part of) site, which has since gone down and is no longer available on the internet. However, these are merely my opinions and views on the tradeshow experience and thus this post is by no means a copy of the original Bosom Bloggers’ tradeshow post*
Tip # 1: Meet other bloggers, if possible – I started visiting lingerie tradeshows, mostly Moda in Birmingham NEC centre, in February 2014. I was living in UK as an exchange student and thought I had the perfect opportunity to go and see my fave brands exhibiting and after all, it was only a few hours in a train or even a bus from Liverpool to Brum. The first time I visited I was completely alone, a little bit hesitant and intimidated by the big brands but luckily, got to meet a couple of other bloggers as well, Becky and Cheryl from Invest in Your Chest. I had always admired these girls and was ecstatic to meet them in flesh finally! They also gave me the confidence boost to talk to brands without hesitation and they acted as a safety blanket when I talked to other industry professionals (such as editors of Lingerie Insight!) and just browsed the show.
After that one time I was hooked and wanted to come back for another round of beautiful lingerie, and yet again, I was looking for a partner in crime – but also a place to stay at. To be honest, I am usually poor as fuck and I cannot afford any fancy hotels which usually leads me to booking a cheap hostel or asking a friend for a couch. This is how I met the lovely Anna from Bras and Body Image! We belonged to the same bra blogger Facebook group and I noticed that she was studying in Birmingham University – so it suddenly occurred to me that if I was cheeky enough, I could probably ask if she would accommodate me for a couple of night. Well, the lovely person that Anna is, she agreed to the deal and since then we have seen each other every six months over fabulous lingerie, huge cocktails and delicious pub food. Anna is a true friend and who knew we would like all the same things: pinup dresses, Disney (we went to Disneyland together last January!), Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, food and wine.
Bitches slaying it in Paris! We cute.
Tip # 2: If you are a blogger, register for a press pass (in time!) – This is vitally important if you want to have the advantages of sitting in the front row of the runway, taking pics at the show and using the press lounge. The rules and advantages that come with the press pass differ from show to show, but it is very common that you won’t be able to take photographs without the press pass. If you have a blog, you are automatically entitled to register as press, you just need to have an active website for it and a reason to visit the show (eg previewing the collections and taking pics for blog posts). The press pass is free of charge, but if you don’t have a publication nor a lingerie business, you will have to register as a visitor which costs a bit. However, if you are a true lingerie/fashion enthusiast, it is not a big amount to pay and it truly is a great experience.
As said, registering as press has its own advantages – sometimes it’s the way people treat you with the pass (champagne and strawberries!), but there is also usually a free press lounge to use during your visit. What the press lounge includes is a whole different matter though as that differs from show to show; personally, I prefer the Moda press lounge as it is more quiet but also filled with tiny snacks, Cadbury’s chocolate and free wine. There is nothing like a pre-show nibble and a taste of cheap wine! At the SIL show however, there were only a few mini croissants and orange juice, which were still a nice extra when looking for a quick snack. There were also fancy computers ready to be used if you wanted to blog on-site – but personally I wouldn’t suggest that if you want to see the whole show in less than three days.
The way people treat you as press depends entirely on the brand though – some see press as some sort of royals who need extra attention, some treat them as parasites who try to spread their designs for bigger brands to steal (which is absolutely not true, stop being paranoid!). Every now and then (usually the French brands) deny us from photographing the collections but the worst is the chilly behaviour towards bloggers – so to save you from too much regret, don’t even bother to try and get an appointment with those brands. They simply don’t deserve your time.
Tip # 3: Make a plan and set up appointments with the biggest brands – It’s super important to know which brands you want to see and which you may want to see if you have extra time. At the beginning of the show there will be people handing out floor plans and brand guides, which are handy when you are trying to figure out an order to go by and see the brands you like. However, I would suggest browsing through the tradeshow website long before the show and trying to make a list of interesting brands before you actually enter the exhibition halls. This way you can save time and even make appointments in time for the show.
Email the biggest brands at least (eg Panache, Lepel and Gossard) and try to set up a meeting so you will be sure to talk to the brand reps about the collections. Many brands are super busy and with a big collection you will need time from half an hour to a full hour to review the whole collection and take pics of the models. Try to plan the meetings at a convenient time too, so not too early in the morning (if your train is late) or too close to the runway shows, so you can make it to them as well. Sitting at the front row of the runway is seriously rad even in a small show, so I strongly suggest you won’t miss that experience!
Tip # 4: Dress to impress, be polite and show real interest – Giving a good first impression is always important. I know in the first Bosom Bloggers blog post about tradeshows the writer says not to worry about your outfit as the exhibitors are far more interested in impressing the buyer, but I need to disagree here. Your outfit is something that catches the eye and also the exhibitors’ attention, so I wouldn’t overlook that. Two pinup girls browsing around the show is a far more interesting sight than two casual press members dressed in jeans and t-shirts! However, don’t gamble on your comfort too much – the tradeshow days are long and sweaty so don’t wear anything too thick or long-sleeved even in the winter as the exhibition halls get pretty warm throughout the day. Also, invest in comfy yet nice-looking shoes that will go with any outfit. You will be walking, A LOT.
In addition to looking sharp, I need to address something that may be obvious to some: shake people’s hands firmly, make eye contact and smile. Don’t spare your kind words on the collections! I don’t mean you need to be all brown-nosed and suck up to people, but if you really like something, say it out loud. It makes a good impression and will make people remember you as a nice blogger, not someone who is stuck up and just wants free stuff. However, if someone tells you to straight up write about their brand, you are definitely allowed to suggest a product review so that both of you win. You don’t owe free blog coverage to anyone!
Tip # 5: Load your camera batteries in time and have spare SD cards – This is something that Anna forgets at times, haha! But seriously, you need to have a full battery and a BIIIIG SD card for your camera as there will be pics galore even after just one day. On average, I take around 700 pics at the show in one single day, which is a lot. The catwalk show alone takes a huge slot in my SD card as I take multiple pics of each “outfit” and want to make sure the models look nice in the pics. Also be aware of you camera settings; the lighting in the tradeshow halls may not be the best and you may want to use manual settings because of that. I just learned to use mine, so I hope to take better pics next time!
Take too many pics rather than too few – you will regret not photographing that one set when you get back home! Also remember to take selfies and pics of other fun stuff so you will have some memories from the show other than just pretty undies.
Tip # 6: Take notes – This is my vice – I never remember to take a notebook and then I forget important stuff I should have written in my blog posts. This is something I will correct this time and I will be sure to take a notebook and pen with me to save all the important little details for you, my dear readers! Anna always takes notes and thus she comes up with more detailed Moda posts than mine when I concentrate purely on “ooh isn’t this pretty” sorts of things, haha! What is most important is to write down any new changes with the styles or new innovations the brands has come up with, so your readers will know what to expect from the upcoming season.
Tip # 7: Hand business cards out like a mad man – First of all, get yourself a big pile of business cards that represent you and your blog the best. I still have business cards from autumn 2014 but they are pretty and do the job well. This is first and foremost a way for people to remember you – so design a card of your own with a pic/logo that can instantly be attached to you. I personally have a pinup-y pic of me with a subtle bra peek somewhere in there, but not a full-on lingerie pic as that would be too much for my taste at least. I hand them out to everyone new I meet at the tradeshow and sometimes to old friends as well, just as a reminder. They have been pretty effective so far – just remember to put your blog address and contact details on it so you can be found easily! Also, don’t forget to take part in all the post-show shenanigans, as those are great places to spread the word too in an atmosphere that is not too official (plus, MORE FREE WINE).
Tip # 8: Remember to email some of the brands after the show – So you have seen the show, enjoyed the champagne and strawberries, and you camera SD is full of great pics of your favourite ensembles. Don’t leave it that way and just post about the collections randomly. I would suggest emailing some of your favourite brands and thanking them for seeing you and showing you through the collection. They will appreciate it and thus be in touch with you when the time comes – perhaps they remember you raving about a certain set and will send it your way. Who knows! Keeping in touch with the brands is a crucial part of being a blogger and after they have put a face on your blog, it is so much easier to keep the conversation going.
Have you been to a lingerie tradeshow before? How did you like it? If not, are you planning to attend one sometime in the future? The next shows are happening on July 31st- August 2nd at CurveNY (New York), August 15th- 17th at CurveNV (Las Vegas) and August 7th-9th at Moda UK (Birmingham). If you are intrigued, please take the plunge and browse the show – you won’t regret it!