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Liberty Fairs showcases international presence of brands

By Kristopher Fraser

Feb 1, 2016

Liberty Fairs continued their annual tradeshow this season in New York City from January 26 to the 29 at Pier 92. The event saw an endless list of vendors including Hartford, Herschel and Supply, PLAC, Carlos Campos, and Zack just to name a few. While the first ever NYFW: Men's in July of 2015 showcased that men's wear was in one of two camps, either athleisure or a new wave gentleman look, these tradeshows displayed a whole new list of trends for men.

For starters, Asian-influenced fashion and East Asian-based brands are slowly beginning to trickle into the American market. Harvest Label, a Japanese-based brand headed by Shiro Suzuki, arrived in America over a year ago. The three collections include Nighthawk, a utilitarian style made in the U.S.A. line, Connect, a more mass market line, and Custom, a line where customers can select their own materials to make a bag.

The brand is distributed by MollaSpace Inc., which also distributes everyday lifestyle brands like 22, Afterain, and Waku. According to Suzuki, one of the reasons that the Asian market is having such a growing influence in fashion is all about the details.

"The biggest difference between what you see in America and what you see in Japan is the attention to detail," Suzuki said. "Whatever the price point might be, the amount of time that is spent on something like a zipper and other small details is getting more appreciation in the mass market. The sense of how people express themselves is becoming more mainstream, and it is starting to create more of a global market feel."

Japan isn't the only country that takes advantage of Liberty Fairs' popular tradeshows to help expand their international presence. Secrid, a Netherlands-based brand, has created a unique series of wallets crafted from aluminum. The material is capable of blocking any rays that can scan your credit cards, so its a both a fashionable and security strong offering.

"This show is our conquering of the U.S.," Oscar Menzel, head of new business development for Secrid, said. "Liberty Fairs is our first show in the U.S. The product is new to 99 percent of the people here, and we've found some new business here."

Currently, Secrid is sold in 14 shops throughout the U.S., and they will be launching an online shop in February.

A returning favorite to the tradeshow this season is Paris-based brand Hartford. The label, which is all about heritage, puts a lot of focus on their fabrics. This season, the brand brought back a lot of their flannels, in addition to chunky cashmere offerings. They also introduced a new flannel called the Dobby with small bits of embroidery worked into the fabric.

The brand sources a lot of their fabrics from Italy, with all the wovens manufactured in Morocco in a factory the company has owned for several years, and accessories like scarves coming from India. Presently, the brand is carried at specialty stores like Club Monaco, and is also found in department stores like Barney's New York and Fred Segal. While Hartford doesn't ship to the United States, they rely on websites like Mr. Porter and East Dane for e-commerce in the American market.

While Liberty Fairs has helped bring presence to a lot of American brands, their ability to help labels further their international expansion practically speaks for itself. In another successful season, brand's walked away more than satisfied with new business.