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Liberty Fairs Co-founder Talks Denim, Streetwear and Self-Care

Liberty Fairs and Capsule will bow their first unified program of men’s and women’s shows July 23-25 in New York City, the first edition since Liberty acquired Capsule from Reed Exhibitions in April.

The combination brings together up-and-coming labels like Swonne and Outland Denim, and leaders from the contemporary fashion, lifestyle and beauty markets, under one roof.

Sharifa Murdock, co-founder Liberty Fairs Fashion Group, shares with Rivet how the two shows will maintain their unique identity and why denim is playing a larger role at both the shows and in retail.

Rivet: How will attendees see a distinction between Capsule and Liberty?

Sharifa Murdock: The main distinction guests will see is that Liberty is our men’s and dual gender platform, while Capsule will house all of our women’s brands. Overall, Capsule and Liberty present two different markets but remain unified under one mission: exhibit the best of the best in brands, buyers, retailers, and activations for our guests to stay ahead of the curve in fashion and experience. The Liberty man is polished yet experimental, contemporary and forward-thinking, while the Capsule woman is feminine, youthful, culturally aware and motivated to create.

Rivet: Have attendees’ expectations of trade show changed?

SM: We have always attracted the most cutting-edge, trend dictating stores. What we see these days is that our buyers come to the floor ready to do business—they are hyper focused and dedicated to getting the best products in their stores. There isn’t as much chit chat and people that are there just to look and see, but not write orders. Buyers come to our floor to conduct serious business. They spend more time at our show because we offer such a great array of brands and fun activations—they find their entertainment and inspiration on our show floor and make Liberty and Capsule a one-stop-shop.

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Rivet: Describe the status of the men’s denim market.

SM: Denim right now is making a strong comeback—that’s why we created the Indigo section, to unify our denim brands and make it easy for buyers to see the most coveted names in denim in one place. I always look towards brands like Gnudi and of course Levi’s Made & Crafted to be leaders in the denim realm, they have always lead the gamut when it comes to the denim area. And we always have the legacy brands like Hudson that keep up with the trends and keep the contemporary market moving. Retailers are looking for a bit of difference in their denim buys, it really depends on the retailer and the vibe of their stores, but overall we see that they want something that really stands out as more than just a pair of jeans.

Rivet: What effect do you think the rise of luxury streetwear will have on Spring ’19 collections at Liberty?

SM: I definitely think we’ll see spring collections skewed toward that sportswear, street style look in response to the rise of luxury streetwear. Brands experimenting with technical fabrics, brighter colors, etc. But I think with that comes the push back to this new norm, and where we once saw less tailoring and more sporty silhouettes, we’ll see a noticeable return to sharply tailored shirts and jackets, wide trousers and the like.

Rivet: If you were to suggest one category to help boost retailers’ sales and their store experience, what would you suggest they look at?

SM: With the rise of self-care and conversation around mental health, grooming and beauty is having a big moment and customers are responding well to that. Everyone is talking about the lifestyle of a brand and a store, the customers want to shop and be treated to a full experience where they can learn something new and be inspired. Being able to touch, feel and smell a product in real life really makes a difference in their experience and makes them loyal shoppers.

Rivet: The February edition of Liberty in Las Vegas introduced Assembly, a new seminar and speaker series. What made Assembly such a success?

SM: Assembly was such a success in February because our guests are constantly motivated and excited to evolve their businesses and their craft and to learn and share best practices. By bringing industry experts straight to the show floor, our guests can present product, make connections, conduct business and be inspired from world class names, all in the same environment. I can’t share speakers for this year quite yet, but topics at Assembly Las Vegas will range from the “magic” formula for hype, to cultural appropriation in fashion, to social media’s impact in building a brand. We currently plan to keep Assembly in Las Vegas only for the time being, but as it grows and gains more momentum, we may explore taking it elsewhere. You never know!