Interview: A Founder of the Capsule Show Tells Us How It Will Maintain Its Independent Identity After Being Bought by Reed Enterprises

Interview: A Founder of the Capsule Show Tells Us How It Will Maintain Its Independent Identity After Being Bought by Reed Enterprises

The Capsule tradeshow is, first and foremost, a tradeshow. It's where brands display samples of their upcoming collections, and stores come to make their orders, which are then manufactured and delivered about six months later. Business first.

But since it was launched six years ago, it's become much, much more than that. What is a marketplae that focuses on directional contemporary menswear has spawned and nurtured a true community of like-minded creatives that has altered the landscape of men's style. Twice a year, when the Capsule show rolls into NYC, Berlin, Las Vegas, and Paris, tons of people all flock to the tradeshow for a few days of productive work and memorable fun.

It's reached the point that, when news broke that Capsule had been bought by Reed Enterprises, which also owns Agenda, members of the Capsule community seriously wondered if this would affect their favorite work-related time of the year. We spoke with Edina Silver, one of the founders of Capsule, to speak about what this meant for Capsule and how the tradeshow would evolve throughout this next chapter.

When Capsule launched in 2007, what were the original goals? Have those changed in the past six years?
Capsule was launched with the goal of helping connect the world’s most innovative progressive designers with the best retailers and influential fashion editors. We also wanted to create a unique experience that was less trade-showy and more about a relaxed community feeling where business can be done in a modern way.  Those continue to be our goals, and I believe we’ve been very successful in doing just that. 

Could you describe the first Capsule show, and how that compares to the current season?
The first Capsule show was magical. We had 50 of our friends and brands we admired all set up at the Angel Orensanz Center in the Lower East Side. It was a really unusual venue for a tradeshow, sort of broke down and rickety. It was the opposite of a sleek traditional tradeshow venue like Javits, and that made a great impression. Our brand mix was amazing, as well. No one knew what to expect. Of course, there was a terrible rainstorm that day, but that didn’t deter people from coming to check us out. It was a huge success.  

Capsule will continue to be Capsule.

We’re bigger now, and definitely established as the most influential show in the world for progressive fashion, but we still have that independent spirit—that willingness to try new concepts, and the interest in presenting new ideas season after season.  

We believe that Capsule has been instrumental in steering the success of the growing menswear market.  We’ve all seen the evolution of menswear—there are so many new stores worldwide that stock only Capsule brands, and so many more magazines, blogs, and people more interested in this growing segment of the market. Capsule has grown up, but so has the marketplace. It’s great to look back on season one and see how far we’ve all come in the past six years.

What was the basic logic and reasoning behind selling Capsule to Reed Exhibitions? What did Reed Exhibitions see in Capsule that attracted the purchase? 
Reed is the largest tradeshow company in the world. They run hundreds of events internationally each year, ranging from construction industry tradeshows, to Comic Con and added Agenda to their roster last year. They’re growing their fashion portfolio of shows, and were attracted to Capsule’s dedication to authenticity, respect for the market, and our independent spirit.  

As many of you out there know, being small and independent has its positives and its downsides. We have faced challenges in our six-year history; of being the independent underdog, as a firm of a few people working on a global level with limited resources. We’re excited to have a little muscle behind us now to help us take Capsule to the next level. A big part of Capsule’s success is the good vibes and communal experience we create at each show. The Reed folks respect that, and expect us to continue doing what we do best, while they provide the back-end help to make our logistics run even smoother.

What will Capsule gain from joining Reed Exhibitions? Are there any changes or developments already in the works? Will we see any immediate changes at Capsule this season?
It’s going to be Capsule as usual this season. The team has scoured the planet to find some amazing new brands, including a handful of Japanese brands making their Capsule debut at the NY men’s show. Of course, there will also be plenty of the regulars who’ve been part of the Capsule community for years.  Great vibes, amazing venues, and delicious food will all be part of the experience. 

Is Capsule at risk of losing or compromising the independent direction and vision that it's known for? How will it maintain the level of dopeness that's garnered a global following?
Capsule will continue to be Capsule.  We have the same team of people working out of our office on 14th street and we’re working as we always have done, curating an international community of great people and brands at every one of our 12 shows a year. We will continue to maintain the intimate feeling of our shows, and will continue to maintain the rigorous standards that we’ve applied to each and every brand that we invite to participate in Capsule.

How much input will Reed Exhibitions have in the brand editing, the art direction, and all the other things that make Capsule what it is? 
Reed understands the importance of letting us do what we do best. They’re giving us total autonomy when it comes to brand selection, art direction, public relations, and all the other elements that make our show great. Why tamper with success? 

They’re giving us total autonomy when it comes to brand selection, art direction, public relations, and all the other elements that make our show great.

You said Reed Exhibitions will "help us do what we’ve always done, better." What aspects of Capsule will they make better?
Mostly the stuff that most visitors to the show may not even notice—things like helping us find amazing venues in New York, Berlin, Paris and Las Vegas, negotiating leases, helping with billing, production, and load in. They also have a great retail relations staff who will help us attract more buyers to the shows, which will result in more business being done, which is a good thing. 

How will Capsule co-exist with Agenda within one umbrella company?
Capsule and Agenda have always co-existed in a friendly and collaborative way. We’ve always been very supportive of each other, and that will continue to be the case now that we’re under the same umbrella.

We will continue to be two separate shows with distinct visions, missions, brand lists, retailer pools, etc. Now that we’re both under the same umbrella, we consider the Agenda team to be close cousins. We’re both independent, successful tradeshows serving very distinct markets. There’s a lot we can learn from one another, I’m sure. 

In what ways will Capsule continue to evolve and offer a unique experience for the entire community that its built? 
Capsule will continue to reinvent the tradeshow experience by offering the best level of service to our brands and our visitors. We pay attention to the details and try to provide a stress-free, productive tradeshow experience for everyone involved. We’ve added a consumer-facing event—the Capsule Market Square—to our calendar this year, and the debut event we did in December was really well attended. We’re hoping to do more of those. We’ve digitized out guidebook, and created a Capsule app which will debut this season, making it easier for the retailers to plan their show experience, and contact the brands they’re interested in. We’re re-designing WeAreTheMarket.com to make it easier for people around the world to discover the amazingly talented designers, retailers, artists and business people that are part of the Capsule community. We’re always looking for ways to make the process of doing business even better, and will continue to provide a great atmosphere where emerging companies can thrive, and where forward-thinking retailers can discover the best talent out there. The best is yet to come. 

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Tags: capsule, capsule-show, agenda, agenda-tradeshow, menswear
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