By  on April 16, 2007

Walking through the aisles of the recent MAGIC trade shows with Abbey Doneger, president of the Doneger Group, is a bit like walking around a small town with its mayor.

Progress down the trade show aisles is slow as Doneger is stopped frequently by acquaintances, business colleagues and clients, or darts off to say a quick hello to someone he sees in the distance.

Rounding a corner into the Joseph Abboud booth, Doneger, distracted by another contact, drops behind. A public relations person says, "Marty's right here," and steps aside to reveal Marty Staff, Abboud's chief executive officer. He's wearing a yellow T-shirt that reads "Got Tequila" and a pair of cargo pants.

When Staff learns Doneger is not far behind, he becomes animated, and says, "Abbey Doneger is here! Where is he?" and bounds out of the booth to run and jump onto the dark-suited Doneger, squeezing him in a bear hug.

"We called each other this morning and coordinated our outfits," Doneger said, adding that he and Staff have known each other for many years. Their fathers were friends.

Staff's reaction, while more ebullient, is not dissimilar from the reactions of many in the apparel industry to the figure of Abbey Doneger in the aisles at MAGIC. Chief executives, chief operating officers, buyers and others all stop him to say hello.

The Doneger Group is a fashion merchandising, trend-forecasting and consulting company. It provides business intelligence on global market trends and merchandising strategy to the retail and fashion industry. The company was founded as a buying group, but through acquisitions and expansions has grown to encompass trend forecasting, consulting on customized projects, trend and merchandising publications, a comprehensive Web site and complimentary trend services, advisory firms and publications such as Here and There, Carol Hoffman Associates and Tobe.

During the MAGIC show earlier this year, a major retailer flags Doneger down to compliment him on one of the firm's trend presentations earlier in the day. "Great presentation!" he says, pumping Doneger's hand.

In between company visits, Doneger strides quickly from booth to booth. He said his role at the show was largely to do just this, maintain his firm's broad relationships. He has a solid team of market analysts and trend forecasters who walk the floor without him whom he trusts to take care of day-to-day tasks that need to be accomplished at the shows.

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