CHANGE IS GOOD
Change Is Good for Las Vegas Trade Shows
LAS VEGAS—Attendees returning to the Las Vegas apparel and textile trade shows found the landscape changed again. The Feb. 21–23 run of the MAGIC Marketplace included Project, Project Women’s, Pooltradeshow, The Collective, The Tents, Curve Las Vegas and Stitch at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and WWDMAGIC, Sourcing at MAGIC, FN Platform and WSA@MAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
This season, MAGIC owner UBM shuffled the layout at the Mandalay Bay. Pool returned to the main level after a season upstairs. Stitch, one of the shows recently acquired by UBM, also moved from the second floor to the main level. MRket, the upscale men’s show also recently acquired by UBM, was absorbed into The Collective. (MRket will continue to host its New York show.) And Curve Las Vegas, the lingerie and swimwear show that is jointly run by UBM and Eurovet, moved to the center of Project Women’s next to the athleisure and activewear exhibitors after spending a season tucked into a corner.
Over at the Las Vegas Convention Center, MAGIC’s accessories section grew with the addition of exhibitors from Accessories The Show, which was acquired in the same agreement that brought MRket and Stitch under the UBM umbrella. The section is now called Accessories The Show. (Accessories The Show will also continue to host its New York edition.)
In addition to the massive MAGIC Marketplace, the Las Vegas trade show scene also includes Liberty Fairs, for contemporary menswear; Agenda, for contemporary streetwear; and Capsule, for contemporary men’s and women’s, held at the Sands Expo and The Venetian ballrooms. This season, Agenda and Capsule shared a massive space. Organizers retained the vibe for the two shows by giving each its own decor and soundtrack.
A few things this season remained unchanged. UBM’s shoe shows, FN Platform and WSA@MAGIC, returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall. The Offprice show once again stretched across the lower level of the Sands, and Women’s Wear in Nevada returned to the Rio All-Suites Hotel.
IFJAG, the jewelry distributors show that bowed in Las Vegas one year ago at Bally’s, returned to Las Vegas this season in a new location, The Embassy Suites.
Business at Project got off to a brisk start on opening day.
“Normally, the second day is the biggest day, but today [the first day] we were slammed all day,” said John Nichols, senior “guardian” of licensing for Ted Baker.
Nichols said he noticed that many buyers were placing orders for accessories, which, in the past, have been more of an optional item.
Adam Derry was showing his collections at two shows. Derry’s sustainable basics collection, ADBD, was at Capsule while accessories collection Bandolier was at Project Women’s.
“It feels like the right buyers and stores are here,” he said. “These shows continue to attract great buyers. People are writing here. In the past few years people have gotten away from calendaring, but we are coming back to ordering out. Brands are being smarter, making the right product. Retailers are being smarter about buying the right product.”
Eric Martin, founder of The Park showroom, which had a large multi-booth space at Project, said buyers showed up early to view his lines.
“We’ve had people lining up since we opened,” he said on opening day. “I’ve seen 25 retailers and it’s only 10:30.”
Still, Martin said, buyers continue to place close to season and continue to order conservatively, but “we’re getting more reorders,” he said.
WWDMAGIC had a festive air with hip music rocking the aisles carpeted in lavender. The show, which is dominated by juniors and young contemporary designers, was hopping with retailers from around the country as well as Latin America. Spanish was heard frequently at the various booths that are carefully designed to resemble living rooms, retail stores and comfortable lounges.
The party-like vibe was enhanced by some booths serving beverages while others served pastries. Many companies had a good first day when the show opened on Feb. 21. The second day wasn’t quite as busy, but there was still brisk traffic.
Phil Ugel, who owns the boho-inspired apparel line Blue Sky, based in Maryland, said he attends the show every February. This year, his booth was near one of the entryways where he got enough foot traffic that turned into several big orders from stores in Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Colorado and California.
Ute Wegmann, owner of the Ute Wegmann showroom in the California Market Center in Los Angeles, was showing two of her collections—Sun ‘N’ Sand hats and Fraas knit accessories—at the newly expanded Accessories The Show section at WWDMAGIC.
Wegmann has been a longtime exhibitor at WWDMAGIC. With the addition of the exhibitors from Accessories The Show, the section covered nearly the entire back portion of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall.
“It’s been un-flipping-believable,” Wegmann said during a break in the traffic on the second day of the show. “And yesterday, we had twice as much [traffic]. It’s been non-stop.”
Wegmann said she typically does well at WWDMAGIC, but this season was especially good—calling it a “perfect storm.”
“We’re all in one spot and people were being cautious last year. Now they’re ready to let loose,” she said. “The optimism is fabulous. I have not heard one negative comment.”
Sold out at WWIN
At the sold-out WomensWear In Nevada show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, off the Las Vegas Strip, just about every space was taken in the various ballrooms that make up the long-running show. There were about 100 more retailers that attend this February show compared to one year ago, said Suzanne Pruitt, the director of marketing for Urban Expositions, which purchased the trade show a year and a half ago. The August show had seen a decline in retail attendance as store owners grew worried about the economy during a presidential election.
The show opened one day before the other Las Vegas trade shows, which generated great traffic on the first day, Feb. 20. But the second day was slow as buyers gravitated to the shows at the Las Vegas Convention, Mandalay Bay and the Sands Expo & Convention Center. Things picked up the third day.
For the last four or five years, Sandra Yang, who owns the Fenini contemporary label with her sister, Fei, has been attending the show. The label is sometimes called the less-expensive alternative to Eileen Fisher, the high-end label whose pieces sell for $200 to $400. Retailers from Colorado, Arizona and the Midwest left orders for the pieces that wholesale for $35 to $50. Everything is manufactured in Los Angeles.
International mix at Sourcing
This year, Sourcing at Magic aimed its regional spotlight on Africa, with a regional focus on Kenya. There were 56 booths from countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Lesotho and Uganda. Many of the countries in the African pavilion are able to send their goods to the United States free of tariff because of the African Growth Opportunity Act, designed to foster industries in less-developed countries.
As usual, Chinese companies made up more than 60 percent of the exhibitors, with the Chinese section being divided up into areas for denim, woven shirts, leather goods and accessories.
As in the past, there was a Made in the USA section with a heavy concentration of Los Angeles manufacturers.
For those who like to be on the cutting edge of the apparel world, there was a wearable-technology section that showed the factory of the future, which was very compact with machinery and sublimation printers for fabrics, automated cutters, as well as 2D and 3D production tools.