LAS VEGAS — The Doneger Group’s men’s wear overview on the opening day of the MAGIC show here is usually standing room only for retailers seeking insight into the top trends of the season.
Not this year.
With the U.S. in economic crisis, the availability of seating was a harbinger for MAGIC and the satellite trade shows last week at the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding venues. MAGIC Man, the oldest and largest component of the event, was significantly smaller.
Retailers scoured the aisles for items that would provide a bit of pop on their floors and lure a consumer who is reluctant to shop. Although some have begun selling a smattering of early spring merchandise at full price, merchants are being conservative, watching their inventories and expenses closely as they seek to keep their heads above water. Open-to-buys for fall were down around 20 percent for many stores and often retailers were in the market for spring goods, which they had waited to purchase until closer to need.
Above all, the quest for value drove retail orders. Manufacturers answered the call, offering just enough tweaks and novelty details to keep things interesting.
MAGIC officials declined to provide an exhibitor count, but the 900,000-square-foot South Hall, which had housed young men’s — streetwear vendors as well as S.L.A.T.E., the progressive streetwear component of the show — was abandoned. Those vendors were relocated to the Central Hall to join the classic and contemporary men’s manufacturers. Pool, one of MAGIC’s sister shows, was also located in the Central Hall, as was Premium at MAGIC, a new subcategory that brought together vendors relocated from Project, another member of the MAGIC family.
The Central and North Halls — the latter of which housed WWDMAGIC and MAGIC Kids — are just over 1 million square feet.
The former fashion show stage was replaced by registration desks and there were several areas on the floor where retailers could sit and rest while looking over their order pads. This prompted Lazard retail analyst Todd Slater to suggest in a research note that MAGIC consider merging with another Vegas stalwart, the WSA Shoe Show, usually held within weeks of MAGIC twice a year.
“Not surprisingly, attendance was seen as significantly lower, highlighted by a material reduction in key brands and fewer specialty store buyers,” Slater wrote. “Vendors in the entire South Hall venue merged into the Center Hall. Roughly 10 percent of the space was dedicated to seating.”
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