Playtime’s latest offspring – Kid’s Hub, Las Vegas.
Playtime is heading West Stateside with a different show model to usual. Even the name has changed for this new location, KID’S HUB by Playtime. So why Las Vegas? And why the different model? We thought it important to find out more so we spoke to Sebastien de Hutten, Co-founder of The Playtime trade shows (Picaflor International) about this new venture and the current state of the children’s fashion market.
Chatting over the phone, I firstly enquire as to how Sebastien was doing? It’s a tried and tested opener though not original, the reply, however, was striking, “I’m very well Katie, very, very busy which is a good thing…that said the market is really difficult at the moment. We’re hearing a lot of difficult feedback from the brands, they are suffering a lot.” The ensuing discussion naturally developed as to the reasons why times are seemingly tough in children’s fashion. I have many views on the subject so opinions were quick to travel back and forth between us. Sebastien’s willingness to discuss the issues, actions and solutions felt really positive. Nonetheless, that’s for another article.
Back to Kid’s Hub by Playtime, as you will see from the interview the show focuses on buyer experience. It will be compact, with the majority of labels at the low/mid price point, multiples represented by reps (the American way) and a small minority of mid/high designer independents.
In conversation with Sebastien De Hutten of Playtime
So, obviously, you have this new venture with KID’S HUB by Playtime in Las Vegas. What sort of research do you do before considering starting a show in Las Vegas?
To be honest it’s an accumulation of lots of things and years of experience in that market. It’s been over 10 years since we’ve been in America we’ve also worked with people over there for a long time that have huge experience.
There are companies that do lots of market research, we do some but we also focus on our feedback that we get from brands and buyers. What we feel is that we’re living in a time where things change so drastically that any market study gives you a picture, a snapshot of an instant that may not be the same in the next 6 months. I think we’re in a time where one needs to make decisions on experience and feedback.
So taking that in consideration, what’s the vision for the show, is it going to have more of a showroom feel?
Just to be very clear the positioning of the show is going to be very different to the Playtime shows. As Playtime, we have more middle to high-end brands with some more moderate brands. At Kids Hub it’s going to be the opposite more moderate brands and some designer brands. We have been asked by brands for years to do something in Los Angeles. It turns out that after going to Los Angeles we realised that doing a show there would not attract a huge proportion of the buyers. So eventually we decided that Las Vegas was an option to do something for brands on the West Coast. We received lots of negative feedback from moderate brands about the other shows in Las Vegas, that buyers are not received properly and that something new needs to be done.
Children’s club is on at the same time in Las Vegas or at least KID’S HUB crosses over… Absolutely, we don’t want buyers going at different sets of times it doesn’t make sense. So really the idea is a meeting place, a place where you’re almost in a showroom. It is going to be a Trade Show because it’s going to be a minimum of 80 brands for the first edition. We want to give it a different feeling and experience for buyers to what they have had previously. Which is very important of course… it’s really the positioning of the brands and what they offer for that section of America, the West Coast.
So it will be America labels or brands that are already present in the US market, that have developed in the US. The show is going to appeal to all kinds of buyers.
Is there going to be a different buyer than at the New York show…
There’s going to be some crossover but you know the US market has different reps for the East coast and West coast. It’s just such a big Country for buyers coming from Dallas or Los Angeles they need a good show in Vegas. I mean I don’t know the show starts in Vegas, you never know it might end up in Los Angeles.
Will it be the American trade show way of selling?
We’re talking about a mixture so there’s going to be a brand like Hannah Banana and then there’s going to be a brand like Tinycottons, that’s how far the range could be.
Obviously, Playtime Berlin is no more…
Yes completely, you know Katie we just talked about it but times are too difficult for brands to wait for something to take off. The German market is difficult, it worked to a certain extent but we don’t have the budget for the development of that show. Some brands have done all three seasons and they can’t keep investing in and waiting for a market to develop.
We’re focusing on Playtime Paris in Europe, we received really great feedback from the German buyers coming to the show but what happened is that a lot of them started coming to Paris when they didn’t in the past. I think there’s just room for two shows in Europe at the moment like Pitti Bimbo and Playtime Paris. It’s a question of time for buyers they don’t have time to go to too many shows.
Buyers want to go for the shortest amount of time and see as many brands as possible in one place. When they come to Paris they very often come for one to two days and they need to do everything in that time, they have little time to do anything else.
We need to make this more simple so we’re concentrating on the American market just now which we’re doing through a different branding, and by creating a network in America with Playtime New York and Kid’s Hub.
And with the New York show are you looking to develop it?
For now, the show is good as it is, but it could happen in time. I do know that there’s a lot of discontent among the brands from the other show but New York is very complicated in terms of venues. We fit really well at the Metropolitan building, we don’t want to move unless we have a good option of another place where we can have everyone. It’s a beautiful show and everybody likes it.
Las Vegas is about finding new markets and helping brands get to those new markets, we are also looking now at other possibilities in Asia.
I went to Shanghai recently it’s a huge market, if there is a possibility of a strong development in the world right now it’s in Asia…If we do something it will be very focused. with brands that have the capacity of going to this market.
But for now, we are focusing on Vegas as part of developing this network (of shows).
A roll of the dice…
‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ so they say and perhaps by tailoring the Playtime brand to this particular bit of the states Sebastien and his team are confident that KID’s HUB will be less of a gamble and more of a sure thing. Another branch of the Playtime family albeit with its own looks and attitude Playtime hopes this latest addition grows up to be a valuable and much-loved chance for brands to expand their market opportunities.
KID’S HUB by Playtime
February 4 & 5, 2019
Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
Resort & Casino
3667 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Feature Image: Frédérique Daubal