Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: IMATS (International Make-up Artists Trade Show) Sydney 2012, Part 1 - The Event

In mid August I bought a ticket in the hopes of renewing my interest in cosmetics and wrote a small pre-event review on it. On Saturday 29th September I attended the well known IMATS (International Make-up Artists Trade Show) with enthusiasm, an (ironically) fresh unmade face and looking forward to a great day ahead of me. 
I came back a lot poorer in the wallet and filled with cosmetic goodies. 
Was I impressed of the event? 
Here's my review of IMATS in a two part series including a recount and tips. 
This post will be focusing on the event itself. 
Part 2 will be looking at the individual stores at the event.

Sydney IMATS was held at the heart of the city, in Darling Harbour at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre (SCEC). This location is a confusing place to find with multiple buildings in the near vicinity with similar names such as the neighbouring building called Sydney Convention Centre (as far as I'm aware it's owned by SCEC) and Sydney Exhibition Centre which is south of SCEC. It's not an IMATS problem but confusing nonetheless and it may have been a factor of the ticket price (speculation on my part). When entering SCEC you find digital signage pointing you to which hall IMATS is located (although the hall is not mentioned on the ticket).

The procedure of getting in was not too bad. A reception desk fronted the hall and a line followed. Signs informed that tickets and ID was required however in the end ID wasn't required. When you got to the receptionists one of them scans your ticket, secures the wristband, hands a brochure and you pick up an empty bag (just for the sake of storing all your accumulated purchases!) on your way in.


From the floor plan there are 32 stalls altogether which I personally find a small number for a trade show. Most of the stalls contained hard to find brands and products, or those that aren't sold in Australia like Make-up Forever, Inglot, Mac Pro, OCC Makeup, Makeup Store, Kryolan, Ben Nye, LA Splash, 88 eyeshadow palettes, paper eyelashes, various falsies, freestyle palettes, disposable applicators and a huge array of brushes which makes the show very worthwhile!

Here are some facts and tips that I gathered on the stalls!
  • DISCOUNTS VARY - There is a huge range of discounts or none at all! The Makeup Store had 60% off selected products whereas Inglot had practically nothing on sale - That's a HUGE difference!
  • KNOW YOUR PRICES - Not everything is cheaper at IMATS especially with Chinese imports. If you know the 88 eyeshadow palettes you can get them for less that $10. At IMATS you are looking at double that depending on whether you buy multiple at a discount or not.
  • MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT - There are a lot of stores that sell exactly the same thing; in fact there were two sellers selling Make-up Forever (Media Makeup and PM Studios)! SO...
  • SHOP AROUND - Sometimes the same products are different prices! Look at all the stores, take a note of the prices and choose the one that is cheapest. I learnt the hard way by spending $10+ more on MUFE when I didn't notice it was being sold at two places. A lot of disposable makeup products were different prices for the same amount.
  • BUSINESS CARDS - Lots of stores are not solely representing a brand but are actually physical bricks and mortar stores or are Australian webstores. Taking up business cards makes you aware of specialist stores right at home!
  • SELECTED RANGE - Usually stores will choose the most popular products to sell and don't have the full range of colours.
  • SOLD! - Some things WILL sell out! Saturday is the best day to attend and you should get there early if you hope to buy everything you intended to. Unfortunately a lot of stores come from interstate so they only brought limited stock with their travels, or they didn't take all of it with them that day.
  • CASH OR CARD? - That day the frequently repeated phrase was "Do you have exact change?". Stores often run out of smaller notes or coins since there was a lot of $50 notes handed over (I'm guilty of that too). However although credit card is great for exact change it's also slower. My advice? Bring smaller change so that you can get the transaction over with!
  • TESTERS - Make the most of testers! A lot of stores use brand new items as testers so don't be afraid to swatch them! I found that the OCC lip tars were poor in testers as they only brought the testers they had with them but didn't open new ones for the new colours without testers. Very unacceptable!
  • WHO YOU GONNA CALL? - The staff at each stall are high quality professionals. They understand makeup and are able to colour match, recommend products and techniques, and are friendly. This is especially useful if you have particular makeup concerns (for me it was my extremely oily t-zone).
  • HIGH END - Brands and products are largely high end or specialist cosmetics. Expensive and theatrical makeup proliferated.

One thing that real irked me was that the one brand that I was really depending on, NYC Cosmetics were no where to be seen! It had been on the brochure and on the website yet I couldn't find it on the day!

If you are a makeup artist you may be particularly interested in seeing some big names ready to tell you the biggest secrets in the makeup industry. However I found that the presentations were low off the mark when delivering highly technical makeup skills though there was polarities on either highly theatrical makeup or natural makeup (weddings anyone?). There were 2 stages that alternated and seats were filled.

I vaguely listened to Kevin James Bennett who worked on a live model. He seemed to enjoy sharing the latest tools available at IMATS (walking talking advert!), prototypes he had been given to test ride and simple makeup techniques which I already knew about like eyes before foundation or selectively highlighting the face.

I felt that IMATS definitely catered more for the theatrical makeup artist and that makeup artists would be aware of most of the normal makeup skills. The tame talks would be very suited for a starter in makeup though would a beginner invest that much of their time and money on a whim or even know about IMATS? Probably not.

Other than that there was a lot of theatrical makeup demos being done at some of the stalls and the models walked around the hall which was great eye candy!

At the back of hall was a cafe for a quick food fix!

Creeping up to midday there was a lot of people starting or overwhelm and crowd the stalls. You have to stalk and move your way into the crowd as people walk away. There were definitely a good mix of both general public and makeup artists and a lot of people came just to top up their supply of foundation or whatever they regularly use. A fair share of alternative people also attended, you can imagine because of all the bright and dramatic makeup available! I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere; there was something really positive about it!

I have mixed feelings about IMATS.
IMATS is a great opportunity if the shoe fits.
I find lots of products are on trend and the shopping experience, although limited in stalls, were enough to fill a gap in my makeup collection.
More should be done to regulate the types of products available and the prices, and also to insure that what was advertised was fulfilled on the day.
The demonstration shows were lacklustre in my opinion.

Would I go again?
Having said all that I'm still excited to go again!
Taking with me all that I learnt and knowing the range of brands I wanted at great prices I would be happy to top off my collection and at the discounted $30 price it's worth investing!
With a friend, even better!
Next time I'll be very careful with how I buy and what to expect.

Have you been to IMATS? What do you look forward to when going to IMATS?

Love Porcelaine.

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