This was my 3rd year attending the International Makeup Artist Trade Show in London and it’s changed a lot over such a short period of time. The organisers have taken on board criticisms from shows past and worked hard to improve. The venue is now bigger since moving to the Great Hall at Alexandra Palace and consequently affords a lot more space when moving around.
I arrived at 8.30am on the Saturday morning, having dragged my under-eye bags from my (now practically traditional) el-cheapo Travelodge in Moorgate – the wind was biting my arse all the way from the bus stop to the front doors but thankfully it was toasty enough inside. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was sitting opposite the lovely Iris from RougeDeluxe on my way up from Wood Green station on the W3 bus. When she told me she thought we’d been sharing the same bus, my natural reaction was to genuinely pray to the gods of self-image that I hadn’t been picking my nose/teeth/spots all the way up the hill.
Such an early start was obviously for the best as the hall began to fill quickly. Along with IMATS veterans: Leanne, Kim, and Laura we headed for the Crown Brush stand – always well stocked and packed once the crowds move in. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for about five minutes before deciding that although I was loving some of the brushes… I just didn’t need another MAC 217 dupe you know? And I headed off to my favourite IMATS haunt, the MUFE stand. This year, it was bigger than ever… in-fact, I wrongly assumed that – as it was so well-stocked – it must have been being operated by MUFE themselves – but my till receipt shows that Guru Makeup Emporium were still behind the brand’s major appearance on the day. PAM also held a (smaller) MUFE pitch and for once, offered the same 35% discount as their competitors at Guru.
I always happily admit that I’m there for the shopping. I’m not a MUA and have no desire to be one… I don’t wear false lashes, have no need for disposables or giant cases and as far as I’m concerned, latex and glitter is a combination best kept behind closed doors ifyouknowwhatimean. This ultimately always means that the show will hold a limited interest to me (and quite rightly so, what with it being a TRADE show afterall). I felt that this year, despite brands like Inglot and Sleek being in situ (which they weren’t two years ago) – it felt somehow less relevant to me than previously. I was also disappointed not to see discounts from brands like Hakuhodo or Embryolisse.
I would have loved to see more of the U.S. brands represented either via their U.K. distributors or by themselves. Brands like Sigma, Yaby, Ardell, Sugarpill, Stars Makeup Haven, Unii, honestly my list could go on… I think there would be huge demand to see more and now that the show has moved into a larger venue – there’s certainly the floorspace to allow it. Huge props to brands like OCC and Eve Pearl for making the trip over year after year and putting on a grand display, it was great to see their stands well-attended as a consequence.
The body painting and artistry displays from the students were, as always, wonderful – though the ‘makeup museum’ looked a little barer than previous years and some of the exhibits were repetitions from previous shows. I didn’t attend any of the keynote speaker’s talks or demonstrations simply because my timings didn’t allow it, although I have heard on the grapevine that the Embryolisse one was a hard-selling cringefest! Some of the exhibitors also need to invest in bigger pitches. Illamasqua were the worst culprits… occupying a ridiculously small footprint, combined with impressive discounts equals a recipe for a horribly frustrating shopping experience.
As the fortunate recipient of a press pass, it didn’t cost me a penny to attend but had I spent £40 for advance tickets or £60 at the door, I can’t honestly say that those (not insignificant) prices wouldn’t have given me greater frustrations at some of the issues I mentioned above. Organisationally, the show seems to improve year upon year, with queues moving faster and plenty of staff on hand to point attendees in the right direction. Refreshment facilities were plentiful, though the single ATM again displayed a queue of epic proportions.
I’ll show my (modest) haul very soon but thought I’d jot down some of my thoughts on the IMATS experience while it was still fresh. I’m always a little torn on my trip to the annual extravaganza but this year really demonstrated the serious potential for more exhibitors now that the Make-Up Artist magazine produced show have ironed out those initial kinks with the venue space and slow-moving queues that plagued the shows of yesteryear.
Frankly, there remains to be nothing else quite like the IMATS in the UK.