LUXURY 2018: Blending Tech With Memorable IRL Experience

LUXURY is going ­digital. The Las Vegas show—which opens at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, May 30 (one day later than its historical date pattern), runs for two days as an invitation-only affair, and then expands to the wider JCK community before closing Monday, June 4—has incorporated technology into its matchmaking efforts in a manner that feels très appropriate for 2018.

“At LUXURY, our focus is on helping to drive business for our brands and our retailers in a high-end environment,” says Sarin Bachmann, industry vice president of LUXURY and Swiss Watch events. “In 2018, we will unveil a new ­LUXURY networking app. It utilizes swipe technology to introduce retailers to exhibitors and retailers to retailers with an algorithm that matches them up based on the information they provided us at registration time.”

Not only will the app, which is now available for download, “make smarter, better connections” among attendees, according to Bachmann, but it will also connect retailers to a new area in the Oceanside ballroom dedicated to in-store experiences to “give retailers concrete ideas they can take back to help drive traffic into their stores.”

Keynote speaker Johnny Earle, founder of Boston’s Johnny Cupcakes clothing brand, aka “the world’s first T-shirt baker,” will aim to do the same thing. At a breakfast ­presentation May 30, Earle will detail how he made his first retail store an unforgettable experience. (“My dad and I transformed my first store location into an old-fashioned bakery where I displayed T-shirts in vintage, industrial refrigerators and on baking racks,” Earle writes on his website. “I even made it smell like frosting!”)

The expanded Design@LUXURY area in the Oceanside ballroom is guaranteed to be equally inspiring. “We’re doing it bigger and better this year,” says Bachmann, adding that brands new to the area include Clementine & Co. Jewelry, Erica Molinari, Dawes Design, John Atencio, and Just Jules. (Meanwhile, the regular LUXURY lineup includes two Italian jewelry firms new to the event: Pesavento and Ponte Vecchio Gioielli.)

“We are going back to basics and creating more clean, sleek, contemporary designs for our return to LUXURY,” says ­Atencio, who last exhibited at the show in 2007.

The annual LUXURY Retailer of the Year Award is also staging a comeback—at a breakfast presentation on Thursday, May 31. And this year, the ceremony will feature the new LUXURY Design Awards, in which retailers select winners in four to six categories and reward them with trunk shows at their stores. Right swipe, indeed.

Signature collection peridot and blue topaz pendant with 0.47 ct. t.w. diamonds; $5,995; John Atencio; 720-445-5292;

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