After an 18-month hiatus, the trade show circuit has returned to the Big Apple. Except this time, what were once known as the Fame and Moda trade shows have been consolidated into the Magic show, along with brands and retail buyers from the West Coast event, both big and small, flocking to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York’s Hudson Yards this past Sunday through Tuesday.
“You can feel the energy here and that people are so grateful to be back [in person],” Kelly Helfman, commercial president of Informa Markets Fashion, told WWD. “I haven’t talked to one person who was like, ‘In-person was not worth it.’ None of that. People have been like, ‘thank you. It’s better than I expected.’
“Fashion is such a tactile industry,” she continued. “These retailers, they were dying to come back, because they need to touch and feel and see the quality [of products]. They can do some of that online, but there’s also nothing like meeting the brands that we know and love, [as well as] discovering new brands, whether it’s U.S. brands, international brands, young designers, emerging designers or Black-owned brands.”
Helfman added that by combining what was once the Fame and Moda trade shows, parent company Informa Markets was able to reach a wider audience while building off the brand recognition of Las Vegas’ Magic trade show.
“There’s so much momentum and people here on the East Coast are so excited to experience what they’ve heard about in Las Vegas, the name Magic,” she explained. “Magic New York allows us to now expand and offer more categories, like footwear, accessories. Those traditional shows — like a Fame and a Moda — are existing within Magic New York, but they’re called out as categories. So, for instance, trend or sportswear [sections]. It’s way more all-inclusive.”
More than 260 brands from around the world displayed at Magic during the three-day events — names like Chinese Laundry, Ceros Jeans, Lush Clothing, 1Sock2Sock, Sam Edelman, Vintage Havana and more — while retailers, including Target, Zappos, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, Lulus, Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, Saks Off 5th and Neiman Marcus, in addition to a number of specialty boutiques, walked the convention center floors in search of the latest trends.
“None of us really knew what to expect and the brands were cautious,” admitted Helfman, who added that the convention center was outfitted with wider aisles and more space between booths for social distancing, mandatory masks and vaccination cards upon entrance and hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the building to combat pandemic times.
“The people who did show up, they were serious about buying; they were doing business,” Helfman said. “Buyers are writing more orders than expected and they kind of feel like New York is back. Now they have the confidence for 2022 and beyond. They’re asking me for more shows. So, hopefully, Magic New York will be here to stay.”
Swag bags, a Magic step-and-repeat, networking cocktail hours and psychic readings were just some of the goodies available at the event, as buyers browsed trends, among which sustainability, gender-fluidity and bright colors continued to reign supreme.
“It’s really all about color,” said Randa Hajjar, head of Camper Footwear wholesale in the U.S. and Canada. “You’ll see a lot of pinks and yellows and greens, colors that really pop. It’s all about happy, optimistic, living your life.”
The Mallorca, Spain-based brand, which sells fashion sneakers and sandals, has taken inspiration from vintage beach folding chairs and exotic summer get-aways with its “Summer Finca” collection.
“Which is, think of you lounging in your summer estate on an island, or by the pool,” said Hajjar, adding that Camper has continued to make strides in incorporating faux leather, as well as shoes made from recycled plastics or nylons, into its designs, while sourcing only from ethical factories. (The brand hopes to eliminate virgin plastic from its footwear by 2025.)
“That’s kind of the message that people want to hear,” she said. “They want to support sustainable products. But also, consumers want well-made product with good, high-quality leather.”
Ersoy Eligul, founder of 1Sock2Sock, added that consumers are looking for items that they can use all year around.
“Basically, things that are not just for one use,” he said. The New Jersey-based sock brand sells socks made from organic and bamboo materials.
Another noticeable priority that continues to shine is gender-neutral apparel and accessories, such as No. 2 Eyewear. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based firm, which launched in February, makes sunglasses that can be worn by men and women.
“Our glasses, they’re all unisex,” said Swin Huang, founder and designer of No. 2 Eyewear. “It’s definitely a trend. And for me, as a designer, I don’t think glasses should have a gender either way. A guy can wear this; a woman can wear this.”
No. 2 Eyewear, which is made from Japanese stainless steel and retails for approximately $240, is also sustainable.
“We’re not a fast-fashion brand,” Huang said. “If you buy a $35 pair of sunglasses, then the quality is not there. You just throw it away. The material is long-lasting. That’s a very important part of the brand.”
While some brands have acknowledged headwinds throughout the supply chain caused by the pandemic, including price increases in raw materials and delays, as well as inflationary pressures, most were optimistic about the future. Many have found ways to navigate the challenges. Los Angeles-based ready-to-wear brand Lena, for example, adds an “expected delivery date” to all of its tags, “so buyers know what to expect from us,” said Jin Kim, a sales representative for the brand.