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Shoe business confronts challenging economic times at WSA
Feb '09
Twice each year the footwear industry flocks to Las Vegas to determine what styles will dominate retail store shelves for the upcoming season. The WSA Show and The Collections at WSA (the luxury designer segment of the exhibition) together provide the most comprehensive footwear and accessories gathering in the world.

The event will draw thousands of participants from over 90 countries during its three-day run from February 12-14. Despite the economic downturn, the two shows will welcome 87 new exhibitors featuring nearly 150 designers and brands. These additions speak to the vibrancy of the fashion market's footwear sector as well as the industry's need to forge ahead and innovate.

"Today, it is more important than ever for buyers to come to one place where they can discover all the trends and experience more product in less time, and The WSA Show and The Collections at WSA provide the ideal environment for that to happen," says Diane Stone, chief operating officer, The WSA Show. "In the footwear industry, those who continue to innovate will be the best positioned for the future."

Both The WSA Show and The Collections at WSA will introduce a new look and layout to help inspire retail buyers to discover compelling product to entice consumers back into stores. Together, the shows feature every conceivable footwear category from luxury to fashion, active, juniors, comfort, and children's - all merchandised accordingly in two convenient venues at one time. Some of the popular brands exhibiting at The WSA Show include Nine West Footwear Corp, Brown Shoe, Skechers, Geox and Steve Madden. The show will also host hundreds of rising brands like Velvet Angels, Gwyneth, and Fiel, along with celebrity designers such as Jessica Simpson and Fergie, who both launched their respective collections at The WSA Show.

The Collections at WSA will showcase over 350 luxury designers such as Georgina Goodman, Bally, and Lorenzo Banfi. "We're seeing a growing shift in the designer footwear market for understated luxury," says Leslie Gallin, director, The Collections at WSA. "Today's consumers are looking for subtlety. Making a statement is now viewed as insensitive given the current economic climate. The brands in our show represent the new direction of what's considered important in the marketplace."

This year's show will also focus on companies offering eco-friendly products - such as Cocona Inc., which specializes in fabric technology made from natural and renewable resources. Cocona and other global suppliers will be on display in the Materials at WSA section of the show, which offers efficient and innovative sourcing options to product developers.

The WSA Show will also provide more creative and financially feasible exhibiting options to aid the growing number of companies operating on reduced budgets. Exclusive discount offers have been negotiated to also ease travel, dining and entertainment expenses for show participants. Several social networking events have been added to encourage guests to connect resources and forge potential partnerships. Guests will also be treated to more creature comforts such as complimentary Wi-Fi service, manicures, and foot massages.

The WSA Show will take place in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and the Sands Expo & Convention Center February 12-14. The Collections at WSA will run alongside The WSA Show in its new, 3-day format February 12-14 at the Venetian Hotel.

World Shoe Association

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