By and  on October 28, 2009

Advanstar Communications’ MAGIC and Project trade shows in Las Vegas will be staged together for the first time at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Feb. 16 to 18. The two events will continue to be organized and operated as separate shows, and will be held on different floors of the convention center in order to maintain their distinct identities.

MAGIC is moving from its longtime home in the Las Vegas Convention Center, while Project will relocate from its traditional base at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in The Venetian hotel complex.

MAGIC’s exit from the LVCC frees up space for the women’s WWDMAGIC show to expand there and for the new FN Platform footwear show to make its debut, also on Feb. 16 to 18. Those two shows are operated by Advanstar Communications in joint ventures with Fairchild Fashion Group, publisher of WWD and FN.

“Moving the men’s shows to Mandalay Bay allows us to accomplish several things,” said Joe Loggia, chief executive officer of Advanstar Communications. “It’s an upscale environment and we can continue to provide separation of the market segments, while making it convenient for buyers to shop both shows, and providing more space for the women’s show [in the LVCC] to make it commensurate with the stature of the show.”

In addition to the move to Mandalay Bay, the MAGIC men’s show will undergo a dramatic overhaul of its floor plan and show design. Rather than having one massive hall with segmentations by market, the February show will feature separate halls for each distinct market: Menswear, Street, Premium and S.L.A.T.E. (The latter is focused on progressive streetwear brands.) The halls will be separated by 30-foot-high fabric walls, creating physical divisions, unlike at previous MAGIC shows.

“MAGIC can be a little overwhelming when you first come in and see this massive hall. This new layout allows each market to have its own culture, personality and energy,” said Sam Ben-Avraham, president of Project, who also is working on the redesign of MAGIC. “We started with a blank slate and rethought how you create and navigate a big show like this.”

Ben-Avraham acknowledged some vendors could worry the separate halls would impede casual traffic flow, as some buyers will only shop certain halls. “But I think what this does is focus buyers on their key vendors. It makes it more efficient, rather than creating fake traffic flow,” he explained.

The Project show’s organization and layout will remain consistent with previous seasons, including housing a section for women’s brands. “I don’t see any reason to change it, as it’s been so successful,” said Ben-Avraham.

Some Project vendors may be resistant to the idea of showing so close to MAGIC, added Ben-Avraham, as one of the reasons for Project’s success has been that it offers a unique, trendier environment than MAGIC. “People might be afraid of losing that. It’s like making someone who’s happy in the suburbs move to the city,” he explained. “But I think deeper to that thought process, it makes a lot of sense to have these shows together, as 85 to 90 percent of Project buyers also shop MAGIC. These two shows can live together and maintain their own identities, but also feed off each other.”

The MAGIC show will be on the floor above Project; the MAGIC floor will be larger than Project.

Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International, said the organization had received many requests over the past seasons to bring the two big men’s shows together. Project was staged at Mandalay Bay last February “and had a good response,” he noted.

MAGIC is working with customers such as the Doneger Group, Macy’s and others, who have traditionally taken rooms at the LVCC for meetings and presentations during the show. “We’re working with them on their space needs for either the convention center or Mandalay Bay or both,” said DeMoulin.

At the LVCC, WWDMAGIC will move from the North Hall to the Central Hall, which was previously occupied by MAGIC Men’s. The move will provide a 50 percent larger space for the women’s show. FN Platform will launch in the North Hall, and Sourcing at MAGIC also will move into the LVCC from its previous location in the Hilton hotel.

Loggia noted WWDMAGIC and FN Platform are natural adjacencies, as an increasing number of buyers shop both women’s apparel and footwear. Conversely, there has been growing separation between men’s and women’s apparel buyers.

When WWDMAGIC launched in 1995, retailers often bought both men’s and women’s wear together, said Loggia. “But today, there’s less crossover than there used to be,” he said. “More and more retailers are coming to Las Vegas specifically for women’s.”

However, FN Platform will offer both men’s and women’s footwear brands, and there will be shuttles — either buses or limousines — between Mandalay Bay and the LVCC. “It will be very efficient,” said DeMoulin.

Loggia called FN Platform an alternative to the WSA shoe show, noting the latter often has issues with dates that overlap with New York women’s market week. FN Platform will be divided into five distinct areas, including women’s fashion, men’s fashion, athletic/outdoor, comfort and children’s. Brands that already have signed on to exhibit include Nine West, Steve Madden, Vince Camuto, Stuart Weitzman, Hugo Boss and DKNY.

The moves by the Advanstar Communications-owned shows have not impacted the plans of other Las Vegas trade shows. MRket is scheduled to remain at The Venetian hotel, from Feb. 16 to 18, while the Off-Price Specialist show will remain at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, from Feb. 14 to 17. The Capsule show will be staged at The Venetian on Feb. 16 and 17. ENK Vegas will be staged from Feb. 16 to 18 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

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