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Pile Up

Las Vegas will play host to at least 17 apparel trade shows the last week in August.

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Las Vegas will play host to at least 17 apparel trade shows the last week in August.

This story first appeared in the June 25, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

LAS VEGAS — Sin City’s claim to fame may be about less noble pursuits, but most recently it’s evolved into an epicenter of apparel trade shows. Counting the MAGIC Marketplace’s proprietary events as well as its collaborations, there are no less than 17 apparel-related trade shows taking place in the city the last week of August.

One show that won’t be taking its place in the crowded lineup is United. An e-mail sent to show marketing director Rama Mayo generated an automated response noting the summer shows in New York and Las Vegas were canceled and will resume in January 2009. The message read in part, “We are going through a complete facelift. United will be bigger and better.”

Even with one less event, the busy itinerary with overlapping categories isn’t making everyone happy.

“It makes buyers nuts and dilutes the categories,” said Barbara Brady, show director of the International Swimwear/Activewear Market.

Nevertheless, after a three-year hiatus following the debut of its Brighte show, ENK International is staging a return to Las Vegas with its ENK Vegas show, taking place Aug. 25 to 27 at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Squarely aimed at the contemporary market, including the buyers attending the Project Las Vegas show, ENK Vegas will focus on men’s and women’s apparel, footwear and accessories with about 50 exhibitors including Hudson Jeans, Velvet and James Perse. The atmosphere will be more akin to a gallery with vendors spread out over rooms and spaces instead of a convention center vibe.

“We probably should have continued ENK Brighte, but we thought at the time there were good things going on for men in Vegas and it wasn’t so strong for women,” said Elyse Kroll, ENK’s chairman and founder. “Now we feel differently. We would like to bring any or all of our categories to Vegas. We see that all sorts of retailers are going there. We want to test the market and see if all our categories work. “

ENK is following the scheduling lead of the granddaddy of all Las Vegas apparel trade shows, MAGIC Marketplace. Owned by Advanstar Communications Inc. and featuring MAGIC, WWDMAGIC, MAGIC Kids and Sourcing at MAGIC, the MAGIC Marketplace takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton along with its sister shows, Project and Pool. Those shows are shortening their duration from four days to three, and along with MAGIC, WWDMAGIC and MAGIC Kids will take place Aug. 25 to 27. Sourcing at MAGIC will remain as a four-day event, opening on Sunday, Aug. 24.

“This was a response to exhibitors and retailers who said four days was more time than they needed to be efficient,” said Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International and executive vice president of Advanstar’s Fashion Group. “We’ve implemented new services to help buyers get prepared.”

Those include software programs to map out the show and shop by product category along with expanded seminars.

New to MAGIC is a marketing campaign that’s appearing in apparel trades and magazines such as Sportswear International, and a new selling area called ECollection featuring about 60 to 80 eco-conscious apparel and lifestyle brands.

DeMoulin expects the entire marketplace to offer 4,000 exhibitors, on par with last year, with expanding accessories and footwear categories.

Attendance should remain consistent with last year’s, he noted, albeit with a shift.

“We see that bigger retailers are cutting back on the number of buyers they’re sending, but we’re seeing an uptick in the total number of stores coming,” he said, noting an increase of retailers from Europe.

Staggering its date, Project will run Aug. 26 to 28 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The show continues to see growth in the women’s sector, said Sherrie Krantz, vice president of marketing for Advanstar’s Fashion Group.

“It’s a very healthy market for us,” said Krantz, noting the women’s area is almost sold out. “The feedback from buyers is that sales are going strongly. We think that rather than experimenting, they’ll be buying deeper into brands their customers love and will introduce a new product with a handful of pieces rather than taking a big risk. The volume will be the same.”

Pool expects to host about 350 juried art- and design-driven steetwear and contemporary brands at the Aug. 25 to 27 show.

Last February’s eco-friendly “S(eco)nd” section will now just blend in with the show but still feature brands with “green elements,” said show organizer Stephanie Seeley. The look of the show’s entrance in the Las Vegas Convention Center will get a makeover as a creative workshop with sketches, patterns and concept ideas of featured designers, including Anzevino and Florence, Velvet Leaf and Dear Creatures.

Seeley expects the buyers attending the show to be cautious, but on the hunt for new brands.

“Buyers are still looking to place orders with emerging art and design brands that will differentiate their sales floors,” she said. “We are seeing great success with Canadian brands as well as a large contingency from Japan.”

Business Journals Inc. is predicting that attendance will rise 15 to 20 percent to 5,000 to 6,000 buyers for its twin shows, Moda Las Vegas, focusing on the contemporary and moderate sector, and AccessoriesTheShow Las Vegas, offering fine jewelry, costume jewelry, handbags, hosiery and some footwear. Both run Aug. 25 to 28 at the Venetian, featuring about 1,000 juried lines.

To stay competitive, show organizers have increased their visits to retailers, added welcome packages at their hotels, including show badges, product samples and gifts, and will provide catered breakfasts and lunches. They’ve also posted a news release on their Web site (busjour.com), touting the benefits for the August shows, and also plan to revamp the look of the shows with a “green” initiative.

“We’re trying to make retailers feel welcome and make it easy for them to attend the shows,” said Sharon Enright, Business Journals’ general manager of the trade show division.

Added Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals: “Things aren’t rosy out there….But playing it safe is the worst thing they can do right now. We believe we offer a compelling group of resources and they will find products that will spur business for them.”

The retail pain experienced by many is a reason the Off-Price Specialist Show is also reaching out to retailers with more e-mails, faxes and letters to let them know about the product potential at the show where clothes from DKNY to Ralph Lauren can be had for 20 to 80 percent off wholesale prices.

“We’re making a big concerted effort to let them know these aren’t clothes with tears, rips, holes or bad design,” said David Lapidos, the show’s group vice president. “We just want them to know that they simply offer savings, which never goes out of style.”

The show kicks off at the Sands Expo, running Aug. 23 to 26, two days before the MAGIC Marketplace begins. Informal modeling will occur for the duration of the show. About 500 exhibitors will be on hand representing 1,000 booths of accessories and apparel. Lapidos said about 10,000 to 12,000 buyers will attend, on par with last year.

Another trade show staying proactive is the WomensWear in Nevada event, taking place Aug. 25 to 28 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. The show features 700 exhibitors representing 2,000 lines and draws about 5,000 buyers. Among its initiatives are beefed-up advertising and a possible gas rebate for buyers. It will stay open till 8 p.m. on Monday serving wine and cheese and hopes to benefit from running four days. “We know it’s tough out there, but we think it’s slowing down, not stopping,” says Jeff Yunis, president of Specialty Trade Shows, which owns WWIN.

The company also owns the KIDShow, which will bow Aug. 25 to 27 at Bally’s Las Vegas. About 400 vendors are expected, up about 33 percent compared with the year prior, representing specialty apparel, accessories and footwear lines for newborns to tweens. The show expects to draw 800 to 1,000 buyers.

The ASAP Show, which attracts overseas manufacturers looking to produce products for American designers, has streamlined its event running Aug. 24 to 27 at the Venetian’s Marco Polo Ballroom by eliminating its multiple seminars. “This time there was no interest,” said Norbert Yuan, the show’s vice president of business development. “We’ve talked about how to source enough. Now people need to apply the knowledge to their business.”

Yuan said ASAP is expected to showcase 200 exhibitors from China, South Korea, Macau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Guatemala and Honduras. This year, a number of African nations chose not to exhibit at the show, he said.

Even with the falling dollar, many foreign vendors are still eager to tap new business in the United States, Yuan said.

About 2,000 to 3,000 attendees, including sourcing managers from department stores, importers and emerging designers, are expected to attend. Booths are now 20 percent bigger to better display wares. Cocktail parties will still continue nightly, including one honoring India, Yuan said.

Adjacent to ASAP is the Global E.C.O. Trade Show, a venue for products supporting sustainable lifestyles. In its fourth installment, the show is still gaining traction with 25 to 35 vendors, about 40 percent more than last August, and attracting about 750 to 1,000 buyers.

“We should be bigger and we can be, we’re just still in start-up mode and looking for funding,” said show co-founder Howard Gabe.

All things beach-related will be on display at ISAM at the Las Vegas Hilton Convention Center. The show, under partnership with MAGIC since 2005, also runs Aug. 25 to 27 and expects about 200 vendors. MAGIC Marketplace will produce the swimwear fashion show during the trade event.

Turf wars are a part of the trade show fabric in Las Vegas. Perhaps encroaching on ISAM’s province of expertise is the CurveNV Las Vegas show taking place Aug. 25 to 27 at the Venetian. It will feature lingerie, sleepwear, loungewear, daywear, shapewear, men’s underwear and a growing swimwear category. Launched in February 2007, the show expects a 30 percent increase in vendors to 200, according to CurveNV’s executive vice president Laurence Teinturier. The show’s growth is a positive sign as the intimates industry — whose high-end manufacturers are often European — weathers rising prices due to the strong euro.

“Our European vendors are definitely impacted,” Teinturier said. “Retailers are shrinking their margins.”

To create a positive atmosphere for the 2,500 buyers, show organizers are offering a DJ on site, informal modeling, complimentary lunch for the buyers and exhibitors and an opening night party based on the movie “Splash.”

CurveNV is also dueling with Lingerie Americas, another intimates show and partner of WWDMAGIC taking place at the Las Vegas Hilton Aug. 25 to 27. About 80 vendors are expected, according to Patrice Argain, ceo of Lingerie Americas, but so far, the show’s Web site lists only 14 exhibitors. The show will include a fashion show produced by WWDMAGIC and goody bags for the 1,600 to 1,700 expected buyers.

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