With a dozen-plus trade shows taking place in Vegas come Feb. 12, organizers are working overtime to make their event stand out from the crowd.
This story first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
February’s MAGIC Marketplace marks the launch of White, an area that will bridge the gap between the contemporary and women’s sportswear categories, as well as the debut of its partnership with the Lingerie Americas show.
There are a lot of changes in the offing that will speak even further to making the show more retailer-friendly,” said Christopher Griffin, show director of WWDMAGIC and MAGIC Kids, who signed on with MAGIC parent company Advanstar in December. “There are a lot of new people here, myself included, who represent what the future of WWDMAGIC will look like.”
Griffin said the new White area came out of requests from exhibitors and retailers alike. “They both wanted to see an area that called out elevated price point lines that they felt didn’t have a home specific to them at WWDMAGIC,” said Griffin. “The question was being asked, if I am at a $125 wholesale price point, where do I fit in?”
White will showcase approximately 60 brands in 6,000 square feet, housed in a minimalist, gallery-like space with white walls and carpeting. Brands include Eileen Fisher, Single and Voudoo, a contemporary dress line (for more on White, see p. 20). The exhibit is located between the contemporary and women’s sportswear areas in the North Hall of the LVCC.
WWDMAGIC will be reaching out to buyers with other initiatives, including stepped-up efforts by its retail relations team and a succession of parties broken down by category.
“It’s my mandate that our retail relations team is out walking the floor as much as possible, connecting buyers to sellers,” Griffin said. And for MAGIC rookies, there will be a New Buyer Seminar held on Feb. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m. in room N259, led by Mercedes Gonzales, founder of Global Purchasing Concerns, a retail consulting and buying firm. “The seminar is geared toward the small one-door buyer who hasn’t been to MAGIC and maybe doesn’t have a sense of where to begin,” he said.
On the entertainment side, Griffin announced that instead of the traditional MAGIC opening night megabash, there would be a flurry of more intimate parties.
“The Central Hall will do its own thing, the women’s show will do its own thing….I think that way, the parties will speak better to their own constituencies,” said Griffin, who said dates, times and themes of the parties were still “hush-hush.”
MAGIC execs are also looking to keep momentum that was drummed up by last season’s reorganization of the streetwear area into distinct neighborhoods located on the upper and lower levels of the LVCC’s South Hall. Subcategories include street culture, urban, contemporary streetwear and progressive urban, board sports and subculture. “It’s the only show that has the entire breadth of the category, from surf and skate to hip-hop to progressive,” said Michelle Sampson, marketing manager for the MAGIC Marketplace. She added that the category has seen a rising demand for women’s and dual-gender lines, such as Luxirie by LRG and Stussy as well as Pony and K-Swiss, “two lines that are dusting off and reinventing themselves,” said Sampson. Pony’s official relaunch will take place at February’s show.
Streetwear buyers should also take note of Pool’s move from the Gold Lot outside the LVCC to the complex’s Central Hall. Despite its newfound proximity to WWDMAGIC, however, show director Stephanie Seeley says the goal is to maintain a fiercely independent identity.
“As soon as you set foot in the Pool environment, you’ll know you are in a different place,” said Seeley. “We have always been an unconventional trade show and we will very much maintain that feeling.”
The show, running from Feb. 12 to 14, will be focused on graphics-driven lines, which will be merchandised separately from collections with more traditional details, which represents another change for Pool. “We want the show to be merchandised the way a retailer might merchandise her store, so that things flow together well,” said Seeley.
The Project show meanwhile, which runs Feb. 13 to 15, is counting on a strong lineup of advanced and premium contemporary brands to reel in buyers. Founder Sam Ben-Avraham anticipates a continuing rise in the number of women’s wear buyers, drawn by such labels as Corey Lynn Calter, Rachel Pally, Trina Turk, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent and Tocca. “Our largest attendee increases have been from women’s stores,” he said. International buyers are another growing presence, said Ben-Avraham, hailing from Holt Renfrew in Toronto, Harvey Nichols and Harrods in London and Barneys’ Japan division.
Overall, Griffin hopes for a strong turnout for the February MAGIC Marketplace and its associated shows despite being hard on the heels of a difficult holiday season.
“As a former MAGIC exhibitor myself, I can say that when retail times got tough it was even more important for me to be out at the shows,” said Griffin, who used to head up a San Fernando, Calif.-based junior brand called Chica. “The worst thing you can do during tough times is retreat into a foxhole. When you do that, you cut yourself off from opportunity.”