VEGAS TRADE SHOWS
Buyers Navigate a Shuffled Trade Show Lineup in Las Vegas Shows
LAS VEGAS—Four months after MAGIC parent company UBM purchased BJI Fashions’ trio of Las Vegas shows—MRket, Stitch and Accessories The Show—buyers returned to Las Vegas to find a newly shuffled layout during the Aug. 15-18 run of the apparel, accessories and sourcing trade shows.
This season, UBM moved the BJI Shows from the Sands Expo Convention Center to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, where UBM’s Project, Project Women’s, The Tents, Pooltradeshow and Collective trade shows are held. MRket joined the shows on the first floor of the Mandalay Bay, while Stitch and ATS—along with Pool—moved to the second floor of the convention center.
Show organizers hinted that changes are in the works, including the eventual shift of some MRket, Stitch and ATS exhibitors into other UBM shows in Las Vegas.
Erik Ulin, president of men’s for UBM, said the company will look at the merchandise mix at all the shows and “see where brands fit for the retailers.”
Similarly, the move of Pool upstairs follows several seasons of shifts around the Mandalay Bay for the show, which features independent brands showing apparel, accessories and gift items.
Last season, Pool moved to a central location next to Project—a move praised by longtime exhibitors. This season, the show was located on the second floor next to the upscale womenswear and accessories sections at Stitch and ATS.
“I like having Pool downstairs,” Ulin said. “I would love to have a cohesive mix. Pool is a great entry level for brands [that can then] graduate to other parts of the show. Similar to Vanguard [the emerging brands section at] MRket.”
UBM’s other trade shows—WWDMAGIC, Sourcing at MAGIC, FN Platform and WSA at MAGIC—remained at the Las Vegas Convention Center—although MAGIC exhibitors reported a rumor that WWDMAGIC will relocate next season to Mandalay Bay.
Although Ulin declined to say what other changes were in store for UBM’s shows, he said there is space available at Mandalay Bay. “We still have space available. We have room to grow,” he said, adding that it was important to get the merchandise mix correct to help retailers find brands and navigate the show. “We focus on the experience,” he said. “It’s never about selling space. That’s not a value-add.”
Another change this season was the move of lingerie and swimwear trade show Curve at MAGIC from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Mandalay Bay, where it was located next to Project Women’s.
“I think it’s a positive move to be here next to Project,” said Luli Fama’s Gregorio Hanimian, who was showing the Florida swim line’s latest collection of brightly colored, Brazilian-fit swimwear.
“We have accounts we always work with, but we’re looking for new, healthy accounts.”
This season also saw the launch of Project P1VOT, a new area for technology providers to network with brands and retailers.
Convening in the LV Convention Center
The number of exhibitors showing at Sourcing at MAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center numbered 2,600 booths, down slightly from last year’s 2,680, said Bob Berg, senior sales manager, international, for the show.
About 80 percent to 85 percent of the apparel and footwear exhibitors were from China, Berg added, but more than 80 countries were represented at the international show. Ethiopia had a strong presence, showcasing its new industrial parks coming online to expand apparel and textile production in that African country.
The Hawassa Industrial Park in the center of Ethiopia was recently inaugurated with clothing companies such as PVH, Busana Apparel Group, Epic Group and Must Garment opening factories there.
The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce attended for the first time, and the Bangladesh ambassador to the United States, Mohammad Ziauddin, addressed concerns about the state of the apparel industry in that country, where hundreds of workers in recent years have died in factory fires or collapsed buildings.
While the sourcing show was held in the convention center’s North Hall, WWDMAGIC took place in the East Hall, where it was a vibrant mix of women’s fashions for both juniors and misses.
The turquoise-carpeted halls were filled with retailers walking the show and rifling through the racks upon racks of clothing set up in mammoth booths creatively designed to enhance the shopping experience.
There was everything from Pokémon backpacks and workout clothing to lace dresses and bohemian tops. The large hall always has a festive air and a certain hum of constant activity and chatter.
Some felt the show’s traffic was down, but others believed it was in keeping with past years. “The show has been good. It has been flowing, and we are not complaining,” said Sidney Leon, a sales representative with Freeway Apparel, a Los Angeles juniorswear brand. “We are receiving orders for Spring 2017, and some late Fall orders and Cruise have been doing well.”
Holding court at the Sands Expo and the Rio
Only four shows remained at the Sands Expo this August as MRKT, Stitch and Accessories The Show moved over to the Mandalay Bay.
The OffPrice Show was on the ground level of the Sands Expo while the trio of shows under the Modern Amusement banner—Capsule, Liberty and Agenda—occupied three large ballrooms on the first floor.
The OffPrice Show, held Aug. 13–16, hit a snag this year because the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av, which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, took place the first day of the show. Consequently, scores of vendors did not participate, and buyer traffic was off. “Everybody came on Sunday and then all the other shows opened on Monday,” said Victor Martinez, a representative for Mik Mak Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles.
Agenda, with its edgy streetwear fashions, was vibrant and a happening place with blasts of music playing. A drone equipped with a camera flew over the show, and picnic tables adorned with potted plants were set out for lunch-goers.
“The show has been super good and busy,” said Lucas Pierce, sales director for Dope, a Los Angeles menswear brand debuting a denim collection that retails for $88.
Capsule and Liberty, in adjoining ballrooms, were more mellow. Capsule showcased clothing as well as accessories, vintage items and environmentally friendly goods in a space that was airy and not too crowded.
Danish brand Soulland was exhibiting at the show to reach more West Coast clients. “The brand is rooted in the skate and streetwear culture, and Vegas is definitely a streetwear place,” said Janine Ciccone, a sales agent for the label.
Liberty, a show for contemporary menswear labels, was mellower than Agenda, reflected by the quieter music that filled the room. “This is a place where buyers come to find new things,” said Joseph Janus, chief executive of the North American division of Swedish brand WESC, which stands for “We [Are the] Superlative Conspiracy.”
The label has been participating in the show for the last five years. “The show has been going good. We always like it,” Janus said.
One show that is always buzzing with activity is the Women’s Wear in Nevada show at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, a venue located off the Las Vegas strip. Many of the same tried-and-true exhibitors show up every season, catering to specialty-store buyers, catalogs and other buyers from across the country.
“We didn’t know what kind of traffic to expect with retailers complaining about sales,” said Tamara Ward-Mattos, one of the owners of Surrealist, a California brand that makes a lot of lace and knit tops that are part of the soft-dressing movement. “But I’ve opened three new accounts today and it’s the early afternoon.”