The WSA Show opened its doors with the biggest show in the history of the event with 1.2 million square feet of exhibits, 250 new exhibitors and participation from 90 countries.

The Collections at WSA, WSA’s luxury and designer show-within-a-show, has more than 75 new exhibitors, with a 50% increase in luxury handbags exhibitors over the February 2006 show and showing an increase in the men’s footwear category of 100% since August 2005.

WSA sold out all 225,000 square feet of available space in the athletic and outdoor categories, representing a 10% increase in square footage over the February 2006 show. New exhibitors, as well as returning exhibitors who have expanded their booths’ footprints significantly for the August show, contributed to this growth.

“This year’s WSA Show is the largest in the show’s history, representing the best there is in all footwear and accessory categories from around the world,” said Diane Stone, chief operating officer of the WSA Show. “We continue to expand our offerings for buyers and manufacturers and refine our practices to ensure that the WSA Show is a place where the market is made and business gets done. Leading global brands are showcased here. New luxury collections are introduced here. Next best sellers are discovered here. Market access is here.”

In the exploding children’s category, The WSA Show signed on 17% more exhibitors at the August 2006 show than in August 2005. Buyers of children’s footwear will find styles to meet the needs of every kind of consumer including entire lines from luxury designers who are taking their adult silhouettes down to children and juniors.

Reinforcing its commitment to bring an increased presence from the international buying community, The WSA European retail relations team has worked with international retail associations to identify pilot projects that will benefit retailers abroad. This year, the team will host delegations from France, Germany and Italy. The team held one-on-one meetings in Europe prior to the show to identify business needs and share business trend information to facilitate doing business in the U.S. The retail relations team is providing on-site services to help European retailers schedule show meetings in the most efficient manner.

“This show is truly a global marketplace,” Stone continued. “Key buyers and retailers from around the world are coming here not only because of the convenience of doing business with global brands all in one place, but also because of access to top executives from these companies. WSA continues to be the venue for many of the most established designers to launch their collections. This year we are seeing inaugural collections from Nanette Lepore and Karl Lagerfeld among others validating the critical role WSA plays in driving brands and sales.”

For the first time, WSA will host Style Walk, a live runway fashion show on Wednesday, August 2, at the Fashion Show Mall across from The Venetian Hotel at the close of the second day, at 6:30 p.m. Television personality Lawrence Zarian, known as “The Fashion Guy,” a frequent style commentator on “Live with Regis and Kelly” and “Extra!”, will host the fashion show. Exhibitors from all sectors of the show floor will participate, including: kids, women’s, men’s juniors, contemporary, luxury, rugged and outdoor footwear.

The WSA Style Talk forums, featuring celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch and designer Nanette Lepore, offer in-depth looks and personal perspectives on the latest fashion trends and personal success stories. Bloch’s client list includes a who’s who of Hollywood, including Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek and Jim Carrey. Bloch will share with retailers and exhibitors how to incorporate individual style in a store or shoe line with hints from his favorite clients. Lepore will launch her first footwear collection comprised of flats, heels and boots and recently announced a partnership with Keds to create twelve to fifteen styles, including ballet flats, skimmers, peep toes and dOrsay flats, incorporating her signature prints and embellishments.

These free, one-hour sessions are presented on the floor at Mandalay Bay, allowing attendees to take a break from appointments and to gain expert advice.

The show ends its first day with performances from GRAMMY award-winners Lionel Richie and Gladys Knight at the Opening Night at WSA event on Tuesday, August 1. Taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the first time, a portion of the proceeds will again benefit the Two Ten Foundation, the footwear industry’s own charitable organization that provides financial assistance to those in need within the footwear industry.