5 Ways to Survive a Trade Show as a Footwear Designer

Over the years I’ve been to many, many trade shows, both as a vendor and a visitor. Having just come back from the SEEK trade show in Berlin last week, I thought it made sense to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years, while they’re still fresh in my mind.


1. #TeamCozy

Trying to be fashionable and front in-front of a crowd of people trying too hard that follow fashion trends, might seem like a great idea for the first day, but trust me, comfort reigns supreme at trade shows. Make sure to pick your coziest pairs of sneakers, because these trade shows can be pretty big and there’s a lot of shit going on, most of which you’ll be on your feet for (also – if you’re showing at a booth, they often charge you up to a couple hundred bucks, just to have an extra seat at your booth, so bare that in mind).


2. Use Discretion

Don’t tell everyone at a booth you visit that you’re a footwear designer right off the bat. You might be very proud of your profession (and you should be), but actually get to know who you’re talking too first. A lot of the people at booths are sales reps that honestly couldn’t care less about you if you’re not placing an order. These trade shows are (very) expensive and they’re trying to move units, so you can’t blame them for it. They want to sell shoes, not have to worry about someone potentially taking ‘inspiration’ from their latest collection.

I’m not saying to not tell anyone, ever, that you’re a footwear designer at a trade show, these places can be brilliant for expanding your network. Just don’t be surprised if you tell someone what you do and they immediately give you the cold shoulder.


3. Bring Your Own Food & Drinks

It’s expensive as fuck at trade shows.



4. Pace Yourself

There will be mad people to see, brands to check out, parties to go to and a whole lot of free alcohol. Take your time and check out all the different and interesting things on offer. Most of the inspiring stuff is from newer, smaller brands that often can’t afford large booths. Try your best to not be overwhelmed with it all and keep your eye’s open for those guys.


5. Don’t Rely On The Trade Show’s Internet Connection

Honestly a lot of the time I’m at the booth I’m working on other things on my laptop. I have never once though, not ever, i mean ever, gotten a decent wifi connection at a trade show. They always offer them for vendors and visitors, but they always suck balls. If you have any other work to do, I highly suggest scoping out where the nearest cafe is that offers a decent connection, before you go.

Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks | www.MrBailey.co.uk

Start the conversation