New York–To be clear, Metal + Smith is a trade show.
Scheduled to take place Sept. 19 in New York, Metal + Smith will host a small, invited group of independent designers who will showcase their jewelry to retailers.
But the team behind Metal + Smith balks at the term “trade show.” Their goal is to create an anti-trade show experience.
“We’re very careful not to use those words,” said Metal + Smith co-founder Lee Wright of the t- and s-words, “because we’re not a trade show. Even though we are retail focused, it’s about a more intimate relationship between the designer and whoever that guest is.”
“We consider ourselves a luxury event and we’re very specific and deliberate in not using the term ‘show’ or ‘trade’ in our own marketing,” said Metal + Smith executive and venture capitalist Lara Ervin.
Got it. But if Metal + Smith is a “luxury event” during which jewelry designers exhibit their work and retailers are able to place orders, what exactly is the difference?
Ervin explained, “We are different because our cost is significantly less, because we’re more concerned with having the right assortment (of designers) rather than just warehousing brands that can pay 20 to 40 grand to attend a show. We want our space to feel more like a private shopping experience rather than a noisy, crowded convention center, which we don’t think really bodes nicely with the term luxury when you’re thinking of fine jewelry. We wanted it to feel more like when you go into Cartier or you go into Tiffany’s.”
“The biggest part of how we differ would be the focus,” said Wright. “We don’t have 500 brands exhibiting, we max out at 50 and that is because we think that’s enough for people coming to be able to see and digest, which I think a lot of my friends who are buyers simply can’t do, due to the size and expanse of tradeshows,” said Wright.
Wright’s background is in luxury branding. She and her Metal + Smith co-founder Nicole Barklayv, a luxury public relations professional, came up with the idea of hosting a small, curated trade show focused on creating a positive experience for designers two years ago.
“We have heard over and over, the brands lamenting about, ‘Gosh, there’s really nothing for us. We’re feeling underrepresented. We’re not feeling the success that we thought we would from doing these types of shows that come so highly recommended,’” said Wright.
Wright and Barklayv enlisted a group of retail jewelry buyers and bloggers to handle the selection of designers invited to exhibit at Metal + Smith. “It was important to us to work with advisors who were young and hip and fresh and had a good pulse on what was happening in the jewelry space,” said Wright.
“The retailers were important because you can have a beautiful piece of jewelry and not be marketable for whatever reason, so we wanted to focus on what they’re buying as buyers,” added Ervin.
Between 1,100 and 1,200 editors, retailers, stylists and influencers have been invited to the one-day only show at the Mercantile Annex in Manhattan.
Designers participating include Dana Bronfman, Ilana Ariel, Kataoka, Margery Hirschey, Roule and Co., Selin Kent, Tap by Todd Pownell and Yael Sonia.
The Metal + Smith team hopes to host their event two to three times per year, eventually moving into other cities.
“We want to achieve a very prestigious place in the whole jewelry circuit,” said Wright. “We want our brands to know that we put them first. We want our brands to know that we are doing all of this in an effort to help them stand apart. We know we’re only as good as our brands.”
Echoed Ervin, “We’ve gotten brands who are coming all the way from Israel, who have never done a show at market or (brands that) have done a show at market coming from Japan. That tells us that what we’re doing is right, not just because we have New York brands or L.A. brands coming but because people are crossing oceans to get here for Metal + Smith and that’s important to note in your story.”
Metal + Smith is scheduled to take place Sept. 19 from 1 to 9 p.m. For more information visit MetalAndSmith.com.