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Buying Outside The Box

WWDMAGIC is expanding beyond its junior roots and courting more buyers from the contemporary and bath-and-body crowds.<br><br><br><br>WWDMAGIC, the leviathan of trade shows with feet firmly planted in the junior market, hopes to gain an equal footing...

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From last February’s WWDMAGIC: Musi Furs’ merlot sheared beaver bolero with fox trim with a wine and black sweater by Metro 6 by Nina Leonard and a Mac & Jac black velveteen skirt.

DONATO SARDELLA

WWDMAGIC is expanding beyond its junior roots and courting more buyers from the contemporary and bath-and-body crowds.

WWDMAGIC, the leviathan of trade shows with feet firmly planted in the junior market, hopes to gain an equal footing in the contemporary arena, according to MAGIC International, the show’s Woodland Hills, Calif.-based producer.

Approximately 85,000 attendees are expected to attend MAGIC Marketplace, including the 17th installment of the women’s wear show, to be held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas Feb. 18-21. According to MAGIC spokeswoman Ernae Mothershed, the show is expected to be “slightly” larger than August’s edition, with total exhibition space expected to stretch more than 210,000 square feet. WWDMAGIC runs concurrently with MAGIC International’s three other shows: MAGIC for men’s wear, The Edge for young streetwear and MAGIC Kids.

Mothershed said because of an “overwhelming” response from retailers wanting fashion for an older, more affluent customer, most of the growth is happening in the contemporary section of the show. MAGIC has increased the number of exhibitors there by 60 percent in two years.

“One of the top things on retailers’ lists is new resources in this category,” said Mothershed, noting that labels I’vory, Menage A Trois and By Cesar are among the confirmed exhibitors for February’s show. “That’s why we made that a focal point for us and why we’ve been aggressively going after these exhibitors to really increase their presence on the show floor.”

Targeting growth areas such as contemporary is a key goal for MAGIC International’s retail relations team, a department of 20 people, about a third of whom travel extensively to interact with buyers, both to market MAGIC’s cause and gather feedback. This year alone, the retail relations team made more than 1,000 visits to stores ranging from Wal-Mart to small mom-and-pops in the U.S. and Canada. Because the February edition breaks fall lines, the retail relations team has focused on cold-weather regions such as Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Canada’s most populous province, Ontario.

Neely Shearer, co-owner of three-year-old Los Angeles contemporary boutique Xin, said she and her partner, Gordon Morikawa, would never have considered attending WWDMAGIC had they not been contacted by the retail relations team. “We thought it was a sportswear-only show,” she said. “They invited us out and wined and dined us. We went and found some great things there that fit into what we were doing.”

This story first appeared in the December 18, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

MAGIC officials have extended their reach beyond domestic shores, too.

In February, vendors from Turkey will take a 5,000-square-foot booth with The Istanbul Textile & Apparel Exporters Associations (ITKIB), an association funded by the Turkish government to promote exports of textiles, ready to wear and leather. “They really are trying to brand who they are and have people thinking Istanbul when they’re talking about buying,” said Barbara Graff, the association’s Los Angeles-based representative. “Not only do they have innovative textile development but they have a great body of design talent and strict labor laws.”

As is de rigueur in February shows, there will be a strong outerwear presence. Leather and fur manufacturers will be merchandised on one aisle in the better section of the floor. Black Rivet (a division of GIII), Rizal, Oxan, Tendler Furs, Musi Furs, and Steve’s Original Furs are among the confirmed exhibitors.

Meanwhile, major junior resources that account for the majority of the selling floor are taking bigger booths. Hot Kiss is expanding its booth by 75 percent to accommodate its shoe and accessories licensees. Playboy will tack on 400 percent more booth space. And Star of India plans to add 100 percent more exhibition presence. Other confirmed junior resources include Tag Rag Culture, Dickies Girl and XOXO.

On the accessories front, MAGIC officials are not just seeing hats resources such as Betmar Hats or bag labels such as Junior Drake and S.R. Industries/Villa Firenze sign up: There has been more interest from bath and body resources. “We’re finding that retailers are really looking for point of sale purchases and add-ons that are really profitable for them,” said Mothershed, noting Dirty Girl soaps and lotions and Sniff designer printed tissues will have booths.

As always, February’s attendees will have several seminars to choose from. The American Trend and Color Committee and The Doneger Group will both return with their trend direction and forecasting talks. And though details are under wraps for now, MAGIC officials promise an opening night party with proceeds going to children’s charities. Citing the success of last August’s event with the Counting Crows that raised $125,000 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Mothershed said, “attendees can expect a wonderful night of food, drinks and networking with the industry.”

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