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The semianual apparel trade shows in Las Vegas are trying to beat the odds. In the midst of an historically severe recession, retail spending continues to slump as unemployment is on the rise. Retailers, who are welcoming sales representatives and samples sent directly to their stores from manufacturers, have cut back budgets and relied increasingly on orders for immediate deliveries. Despite the challenges, some dozen trade shows are readying to highlight the spring 2010 collections at their next renditions in August and September. MAGIC Marketplace and Pool Trade Show will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, while Sourcing at Magic opens a day earlier at the Hilton Hotel. Project has moved back to the Sands Expo & Convention Center from the Mandalay Bay Events Center for its three-day run kicking off Sept. 1. After making its debut at the Hard Rock Hotel in February, Capsule opted for a more central location for its sophomore show, to be held Sept. 1 and 2 at The Venetian Hotel and Casino, which also will house CurveNV, AccessoriesTheShow and Moda Las Vegas. All shows will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. ASAP Global Sourcing Show will take place at The Venetian from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. Off-Price Specialist Show returns to The Sands for its Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 event. WomensWear in Nevada claims its usual spot from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 at the Rio Hotel and ENK Vegas remains at the Wynn Hotel for its show running Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Furthermore, the city may get a little more crowded with the planned addition of a new trade show called Higher Ground. Details are still in the works, but the newcomer will target high-end streetwear, with a focus on fashion-driven brands.
The onslaught of shows has spurred a shuffle of brands. Premium denim lines J Brand and Genetic Denim are expected to move to Project from ENK Vegas, while women’s contemporary line BB Dakota will move to ENK Vegas from WWDMAGIC’s junior section. Ed Hardy — along with SMET, Crystal Rock and the other rock ’n’ roll lifestyle brands helmed by Christian Audigier — will migrate from Caesars Palace, where Audigier had run a competing show dubbed When I Move You Move, to take over 30,000 square feet of space devoted to the premium market within MAGIC’s Central Hall. Under the direction of Jon Kapelson, the new vice president of men’s wear at MAGIC International, MAGIC will give a modern makeover to the men’s wear section, which will feature exhibitors such as Liberty of London, Nicole Farhi, Sand, Porter, Globe Trotter, DKNY Men’s, Martin Gordon and Nautica. Then there are the lone wolves who prefer to leave the confines of the trade show floor and display their offerings in hotel suites. Based on the positive reaction to its first-ever suite event in February, New York-based streetwear line Akademiks will eschew MAGIC once again in August to show at suites at the Wynn. “We’ve been able to offer buyers and press a look into our new direction in an informal environment,” said Divya Jadeja, Akademiks’ marketing director. “In February, we even had an in-suite performance by Rye Rye, an artist who really reflects the attitude of our ladies’ collection.” Trade show organizers are capitalizing on their strengths and making concessions to appease cash-strapped exhibitors. ENK Vegas tries to make it as easy as possible for attendees and exhibitors to conduct business with catered lunches and complimentary champagne served in an all-white decor.
After tracking a 30 percent increase in the number of exhibitors in February after its debut in August, ENK Vegas expects about 100 exhibitors in the upcoming show, with an equal split between men’s and women’s brands in the contemporary market. “We serve a very specific purpose and a very specific audience,” said Elyse Kroll, chairman of ENK International, which runs ENK Vegas. Over at Pool, not only is there free wireless Internet, but also an amended payment plan. Stephanie Seeley, Pool’s show director, said the minimum deposit was reduced to 25 percent, from 50 percent, of the booth’s cost and payment is due in full in 30 days, instead of 60, before the show’s start. She said Pool also will expand a section called Emerging Concept, where companies that might not have participated in a trade show before can pay $2,500 to exhibit along other young companies. (In comparison, other booths at Pool cost between $4,000 and $16,000.) Cash & Carry, Pool’s grouping of accessories, jewelry and handmade items that buyers can pay for on the spot and take home, will double the number of exhibitors to 40 from 19. “Pool continues to differentiate itself in that we are bringing emerging brands into the marketplace,” Seeley said. For its second appearance in Las Vegas, Capsule plans to expand its roster of exhibitors to at least 70 from 50 in February, with a goal to increase the women’s brands to constitute a third of the selection. Targeting what it dubs the progressive market — just below designer but right above contemporary — Capsule has confirmed that exhibitors will include April77, Gitman Vintage, Loden Dager, Shades of Greige, Quail, Sophomore and Samantha Pleet.
To ensure that buyers from Fred Segal, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s will see new collections, Capsule requires all exhibitors to present clothes from the upcoming season, with an option to show what’s available for immediate deliveries. “The reason we started Capsule was that the brands that we showed didn’t fit in the other shows,” said Edina Sultanik, owner of New York-based fashion branding consulting firm BPMW, which operates Capsule. “We view these trade shows almost as marketing vehicles. Whatever show you’re in is the brand you are and the retailers that come to see you. ”In Las Vegas, trade shows adapt to new realities.