In lieu of its Spring 2021 in-person trade show, which was scheduled for August 2020 but canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns and restrictions on large gatherings, The National Bridal Market Chicago has launched a no-cost interactive platform for Buyers and Exhibitors to connect.

The Studio is a comprehensive collection of product shots & exhibitor brand images, look books, videos, webinars, virtual appointments, social links and contact information for Buyers to access. It is now live, and retailers should e-mail to request access. 

We realize this is a difficult and challenging time for our industry; we want nothing more than to eventually host an in-person show and see everyone come together,” says Monique Kielar, managing director of marketing. “In the meantime, we are hoping that most (if not all) of our Exhibitors will participate in The Studio. The more brands we have involved, the more successful the platform becomes.”

Manufacturers/Designers have access to a full web page hosted on the market’s website. Exhibitors may submit as much information as they wish to share with Buyers (i.e. brand images, descriptions, Lookbooks, videos, webinars, virtual appointment/social links, contact information).

Buyers can place orders by directly contacting each rep/brand. Also available: Designer Spotlights, launched in July and updated weekly, which is a series of exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes looks into favorite Bridal Designers.

“Since each of our brands operate differently, some with e-commerce on their sites, others with catalogs we felt that our virtual platform allows buyers to connect with them easily and effectively,” Kielar says.

“The beauty of a digital platform is that the reach goes much farther than our usual group of Buyers that attend. We are also hoping to reach Buyers that have never attended the show, giving them a taste of what is to come in 2021.”

There is no fee to participate, as “we see this as an added value to our Exhibitors that have supported us throughout the years,” Kielar says. As for retailers, we hope (they) know that we are here for them. Our team is always available to connect them with specific Exhibitors, industry experts or answer questions. The in-person trade show might be temporarily cancelled, but we are here to support the community.”

Currently, Illinois is in stage four of a five-step plan, meaning no groups of more than 50 people are allowed. In order for the state to open completely and allow gatherings such as trade shows, a vaccine or highly effective treatment must be widely available. Once that day arrives, however, count on a version of The Studio to remain as a supplement to in-person gatherings. Its information will always be available to Buyers as a tool to gather information about each brand.

“We have always been in the business of uniting excellent retailers with the best brands and we plan to continue on the amazing momentum of successful markets in 2019 while looking forward to renewed success in 2021,” Kielar says.