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Barbara Kramer of Designers & Agents
Friday, Nov 26, 2010, 4:01 PM / United States
Barbara Kramer is the co-founder and co-producer of Designers & Agents, which is currently celebrating its 13th anniversary. Though the trade show’s roots are in New York, Designers & Agents has already expanded to Los Angeles, and most recently, overseas to Paris. Under Barbara’s jurisdiction, the Designers & Agents team researches new markets and invites promising designers to apply to exhibit at the trade show. “A merchandiser at heart,” Barbara also manages the actual layout of the show. In anticipation of the New York show (September 20-22 at three different Chelsea locations), we sat down with Barbara to find out more about the trade show’s history, how it conquered three cities, and what comes next.
TribaSpace: How did Designers & Agents come to be, and when?
Barbara Kramer: D & A began out of an invitation by my now Partner Ed Mandelbaum to join him in bringing together our east coast-based sales agencies out to LA during their market week back in the summer of 1997. We invited 3 other showrooms to join us which kept on growing until we looked at one another and said, “we think we just filled a void in the market place, and now we need a larger space in which to grow”. Then we knew that we had inadvertently created a business for ourselves.
D & A’s exhibitors are handpicked. Now that the show is a traveling enterprise, are there three times as many to curate, or do the same participate from city to city?
Each show and each season are connected but handled independently of the other shows. We have a roster of over 1,000 approved members who show with D & A through out the year. We are not looking to grow in size but in quality. We accept less than 3% of who applies to our shows and have never deterred from our initial philosophy of presenting the best of the best from the young designer/advanced contemporary marketplace.
How do you envision the show changing to suit audiences in New York, Los Angeles, and now Paris separately?
We have always viewed each market separately based upon the demographics of the stores that shop there and the designers who present there. Each market has a specific ‘Point of View’ that we closely monitor and consider. New York City is our biggest and best market because of the important role that New York has always played in the fashion world view. Los Angeles has a loyal following of buyers and designers who shop this market each season for it’s lifestyle point of view. For Paris, we are launching with a selection of 30 Designers who in our view represent the best of the best in Advanced Contemporary Design from the American Fashion front. D & A Paris will expand into a fully international line-up of designers at our March (Fall 2011) Paris show.
Many Parisian trade shows have expanded to New York to cover another corner of the market. Having first been based in New York and Los Angeles, why Paris as D & A’s third trade destination?
Paris is one of the important cornerstones in the world of fashion. The buyers who visit our shows in the U.S. come from around the globe to shop at our shows. By coming to Paris, we are able to expand our international audience as well as bring something fresh and we think needed to an already amazing line up of fashion trade fairs already existing. The final point is that we believe that now is the right time for American designers to expand further onto the international marketplace.
Are there any brands or agencies in particular that you’re excited to be representing at the trade show this season?
There are always highlights at each show and for September NYC, we are excited to welcome Henry Cuir to NYC and to D & A. Additionally, the newly launched Aesthetic Movement Showroom, the relaunch of Suss Design, Shourouk from Paris, Kathryn Amberleigh, a selected group of Argentinian designers and our curated group of designers from across Scandinavia whom we are highlighting at this show.
Tell us what we can expect from D & A in terms of sustainable design, lifestyle and wellness.
There is no new trade event per se from D & A on the sustainable front but rather, our continued commitment to supporting new sustainable designers and products. We began our initiative over 4 years ago to bring sustainable practices into our show by setting up recycling stations in all of our shows and where ever possible expanding that mindfulness into all aspects of our shows. We continue each May (New York) and June (Los Angeles) with our “gifted” Green Room, which is an area we set up to introduce new sustainable brands to audience of buyers. Additionally, our Green Leaf Program continues to signal out brands that are sustainably produced as a service to our interested buyers.
And because TribaSpace is always interested to learn how fashion industry players market their business in this time of increasingly ubiquitous technology and social media, to what degree does Designers & Agents participate, and to what effect?
Word about D & A continues to spread through the experience of D & A! Where ever I travel to in fashion circles, when I hand someone my business card, inevitably I hear back, “ Oh, you are from D & A, I have heard about your show, been to your show, want to come to your show, love your show…” so, the good vibes are carrying the message out to our target audience. D & A has always had a very strong graphic presence and identity, credited to our in-house creative team. We have dispersed with paper invitations and do all of our communications via e-vites and the internet. We are of course looking into new ways of interfacing with the technological highway and will continue to integrate these ideas into our working model.
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Samantha Garfield | TribaSpace
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