LAS VEGAS—An air of optimism blew through the various trade shows held Feb. 10–14 in Las Vegas as many retailers were encountering empty shelves in their warehouses from a robust holiday season, which set up a willingness to place orders and stock up for the upcoming seasons.
That was the word at the shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center—which held Sourcing at MAGIC, WWDMAGIC and FN Platform—and at the other end of the Las Vegas strip at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which hosted a number of UBM-organized MAGIC shows that included Stitch, Project and Project Women’s, Pooltradeshow, The Tents, The Collective and Curve.
Other shows taking place around the city were Womenswear in Nevada at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino; IFJAG, a show for jewelry distributors, at The Embassy Suites; and a trio of shows at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and The Venetian ballrooms.
A pumped-up vibe invaded the WWDMAGIC show, where brands for juniors and young contemporary women had some of the most creative booths. Garden-themed booths with ceramic pots filled with fake flowers, picket fences, greenery walls and bird chirps was a common motif.
The smell of chocolate-chip cookies and popcorn filled the air as some booths added an extra incentive for buyers to stop by.
At the America & Beyond booth, Mohit Juneja, from Grand Rapids, Mich., had decorated his space with colorful dangling pompom balls and Indian carpets that gave his area an exotic feeling to highlight his brightly colored dresses, shoes and handbags. Just about everything is made in his father’s three factories in India.
With so much color permeating the booth, it was mobbed with store owners eyeing the merchandise and eager to place orders.
Across the way from WWDMAGIC, the Sourcing at MAGIC show was a little more subdued because attendance by Chinese manufacturers was down more than 25 percent due to Chinese New Year starting on Feb. 16. But the Made-in-America section was nearly three times its size from August.
Capturing everyone’s attention was the focus on automation and the micro-factory. “Apparel systems have been part of apparel manufacturing for many years, but now, with technology and innovation, it is cheaper to automate than in the past,” said Frank Henderson, president and chief executive of Henderson Sewing Machine Co., which supplied the sewing machines, based in Alabama.
Across the other side of the freeway that draws a line through Las Vegas, the ever-popular Womenswear in Nevada show filled up every available ballroom at the Rio. As usual, the various ballrooms that take South American names such as Brasilia and Amazon were doing brisk business with specialty stores hunting for new misses merchandise.
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Within the shows at UBM’s MAGIC, many retailers were extremely upbeat when the event began Feb. 12 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The mood was elevated throughout the event space by a soundtrack that included recent hits such as The Killers’ “The Man” and remixes of beloved classics including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
At the front of the event space, Pool was the scene for independent lines and innovative products. Infinite Future Gear Chief Executive Officer Dayne Nastri cited the feeling of camaraderie in the area from all sides. Whether buying or selling and from streetwear to accessories, he feels that everyone involved in the show—his first—has an opportunity for solution building.
“Retailers and buyers really seem to come together here,” Nastri said. “It seems like a really friendly environment for retailers and buyers, too. What is really cool is that we can collaborate with other retailers and designers to help find solutions for each other.”
Showcasing his brands, Project Women’s newcomer Michael Keefer was pleased with the debut of his lines River + Sky and Sundown. “We’re seeing people from all over the country and writing orders for Immediates through Fall. [Retailers] are looking for comfort. They’re looking for a connection to the clothes. A lot of the things we do are hand done. It’s all made in California. We use a lot of eco-friendly fabrics, which they are responding to.”
To the right of the convention space, the pink carpet of Project Women’s changed to a trail of gray, which led into the Curve section, an area dedicated to lingerie, sleepwear and swimwear lines. Though a smaller area than some of the other sections, many of Curve’s brands were also experiencing a successful show.
During the first day of the shows, swimwear brand Togs enjoyed a strong debut, according to Lisa Sack, sales director of the New York showroom.
“The line has been very well received. By the end of the show, I saw about 60 people. Everyone is excited to see something new. People are looking for quality but at a price. Something where they can see the value, still get all the features, but not at a wholesale of $70, $80, $90.”
Toward the back of the space at Stitch, certain brands were busy and reported consistent traffic but with retailers that were still being a bit cautious regarding how they are placing orders.
“They are definitely positive,” said Randa Allen at COA (Clothing of Ahnjoonhee). “We’re semi-new, and we get a lot of people who are so excited to find us, but they are being careful. If it is a new line, they want to test it a little bit before they bring in more, but they also know that to make it important in their store they have to buy some quantity.”
At The Tents, menswear brands were enjoying a great deal of success as retailers searched for quality pieces. As Jean-Philippe Robert, president of Quartz Co., explained, the little nook in Project, where The Tents sat, was a perfect location to meet his clientele.
“In this particular section, I like it. The setup is pretty good. I think we get more quality than quantity, which is totally fine by me. This little section is quite well curated because buyers go from one to another; you can see them. It’s all the good ones in the same place.”
Focusing on innovation and social responsibility
Over at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, where several other shows were located, vendors at Liberty Fairs were pleased with the pace of buyer traffic on the first day of the show. “We’ve been pretty busy. People have money to buy stuff,” said Chris Ngo, the owner of The Leverage showroom in Irvine, Calif.
Rodolfo Ramirez, cofounder of Pocket Square Clothing in Los Angeles, said people were spending money and writing orders.
He was particularly pleased with the seminar series. “I love the Five Pillars and the speakers’ series. It gives people something to do,” Ramirez said.
Five Pillars was a recently introduced exhibition area at Liberty. It shows new looks from some of the show’s vendors and focuses on the core concepts pushing fashion. Those concepts are innovation, activation, social responsibility, collaboration and exclusivity.
The speakers’ series was called Assembly. Speakers included Bobby Kim of The Hundreds and Ronnie Fieg of the Kith boutiques. They talked about their careers and issues in the business.
At the Agenda show, also held at the Sands, there was plenty of activity.
“It’s been nonstop. There’s been a lot of energy. We’ve seen a lot of key accounts and a lot of new accounts,” Matt Waterman said. He is general manager of Champion Athleticwear, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C. He showed Champion’s Fall ’18 line along with the brand’s bag line and footwear licenses.
The Bad Dads Club made its trade-show debut at Agenda. The label was founded by Cody De Backer. He was the former director of sales and partnerships at Agenda.
The LA-based Bad Dads Club takes a humorous look at fatherhood and family life with the line’s T-shirts and caps. “The industry is hard right now. Building a direct-to-consumer business is the way a lot of brands start now. If they are successful, they have the option of expanding to B2B [business-to-business],” De Backer said, talking about wholesaling. At the third show at the Sands, Off-Price Discounter, things were busy. “Today I met more than 10 customers,” said Jacob Pirian of Baciano in LA. “They came to buy.”