Buoyed by improving trends at retail, trade show organizers are expecting the August edition of their Las Vegas fairs to be upbeat affairs. Most shows are either boasting increased exhibitor count or are planning special additions to differentiate themselves from the competition.
This story first appeared in the June 23, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Over the past few years, several apparel shows followed MAGIC International and set down roots in the Nevada oasis. Now, it’s a bonanza for retailers, with AccessoriesTheShow, Capsule, Curve NV, ENK Vegas, Moda, MRket, The Off-Price Specialist, Sourcing at MAGIC and the PGA Show all vying for their attention.
“What we’re seeing postrecession is that our shows in Las Vegas are more important,” said Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International and executive vice president of Advanstar Fashion Group. “Pre-registration numbers are way up and we’re seeing the biggest growth in the number of new stores. That’s a good indicator for the industry and is very positive.”
With budgets tight, he said, buyers can’t travel as much, but Vegas in August is “growing and more important.”
In February, MAGIC shook things up in Vegas by introducing a dual-venue format with the WWDMAGIC women’s show and the new FNPlatform shoe show remaining at the Las Vegas Convention Center, while MAGIC Men and Project relocated to Mandalay Bay. DeMoulin said overall he was pleased with the way it worked and will continue with the dual format when the shows kick off their three-day run on Aug. 17.
“There were a lot of pros and a couple of things we need to work on,” he said. “The feedback we got from the men’s wear buyers was that they loved having all the men’s shows together.”
At the same time, women’s buyers, DeMoulin said, “were happy with the experience and the amenities” they got at the LVCC. “And to have the North Hall for Platform was a huge success.”
The footwear show continues to gain traction, he noted, and, by August, “we expect to have the largest assortment of any footwear show in North America.” Platform was “really embraced by the footwear community,” DeMoulin said, which was able to shop “in the context of the apparel market.”
One thing MAGIC needs to improve, he acknowledged, was the transportation between the two venues.
“The dual-gender buyers want more help with that,” he said. “We moved 19,000 people back and forth and we had clear signage,” but some buyers didn’t realize the limousines were at their disposal, as well as the buses.
In addition, he said MAGIC will work to improve the food choices at the show, add more amenities such as trend areas for buyers, and even “bought out the Wi-Fi in both buildings” so attendees can log on for free.
One thing that will be different this time around, DeMoulin said, is that the Pool show — MAGIC’s venue for emerging brands — will relocate from the LVCC to the Mandalay Bay.
“We decided the best way to help facilitate the connection of buyers with our brands is to move closer to the other shows our buyers are shopping. Right now those shows are located in the Mandalay Bay,” said Pool’s show director Stephanie Seeley.
Among the new exhibitors scheduled to attend Pool this August are AMPM Studio, Grayling, A(r)mour Jewelry and Motel.
Project will move into a larger space in August with the departure of the Western Veterinary Show, and, so far, preregistration is up 25 percent, according to Andrew Pollard, the show’s new president.
Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which runs the MRket, Moda and AccessoriesTheShow events in Las Vegas, said the shows are moving to larger spaces when they open their three-day runs on Aug. 16. The MRket men’s show, which sold out the last two seasons, is relocating to Sands Hall C, which is “closest to the Venetian corridor and provides us with considerably more space.” Sharon Enright, vice president of the Tradeshow division of Business Journals, added: “A waiting list is not good long term.”
As a result of the added space, MRket will be able to incorporate 15 percent more vendors including the HMX Group (Hickey Freeman, Coppley, Austin Reed and Bobby Jones), the Phillips-Van Heusen Group, which is taking 12 booths, Tommy Bahama, Peter Millar and BD Baggies. “We’re really adding top names,” Jones said.
Moda will “really shift the focus with the August show,” he added. Although the square footage will remain essentially the same, “it will be much more balanced in terms of categories.” In the past, the mix had been too dressy, he said, but this time, there will be more lifestyle labels, sportswear and emerging designers. Among the new additions will be Tommy Bahama, Wills Lifestyle, Elene Cassis, Amai Unmei, Solola Paris, Silk Culture, A Woman and Farinaz.
At AccessoriesTheShow, highlighted brands include Saints & Sirens Showroom, Tano, Bora, Levante and High Fashion.
All three shows will sport a new design and presentation thanks to Molo, a “very progressive display system” firm, hired by Business Journals. Although the overall look and feel will be the same, Jones said, it will be updated.
Jones said in all categories, “retailing is far more profitable for our customers this year than last. They’re a lot smarter about buying — they’re still cautious but they’re looking for excellent quality at a reasonable price point and they want merchandise that excites the customer.” And that’s what the manufacturers are providing, according to Enright. “Vendors are fine-tuning their collections to make them more relevant.”
Curve, which started as a lingerie show, is putting the focus on swimwear, as well, this time around. According to Laurence Teinturier, executive vice president of Curve Expo Inc., more than 200 brands will exhibit at the show at the Venetian Hotel Aug. 16 to 18, including more than 42 swimwear labels. Among those who have signed on are Perry Ellis, Jantzen, Jag, Vitamin A, Elizabeth Hurley, 1 Sol Swim, Anika Brazil, Plunge, Playboy Swimwear and Nina Ricci Swimwear.
Some 40 percent of lingerie buyers also carry swimwear, she said, “so there’s a lot of crossover.”
Teinturier said she is expecting around 2,500 buyers at the show. She said the buzz in the market is that “retailers are doing better,” so she’s expecting them to come armed with hefty open-to-buy dollars to spend for Valentine’s Day merchandise. At the company’s New York shows in February and May, she said, business was “very good — above 2009 figures. Sell-throughs were very good for the first five months so consumers are back in the stores.”
Three events are also planned for Vegas, Teinturier said: a business seminar entitled “How to Boost Your Sales” on Aug. 16, a party hosted by the Perry Ellis International Group that same day and a swimwear fashion show at the Crazy Horse Paris nightclub at the MGM Grand on the 17th.
Edina Sultanik, cofounder of Capsule, is expecting around 200 vendors at the upcoming Vegas show, which will be held in the Palazzo Ballroom at The Venetian hotel on Aug. 18 and 19. The last show attracted around 185 brands.
“We think this is our strongest show in Vegas to date,” she said. “As we get more established, we get a lot more attention for the brands we bring there. This is a very specialized show; it’s not mass by any means. It’s for people who want to be seen by the top specialty stores.”
The Off-Price Specialist Show has a new home. It has taken the space that had formerly housed Project — Halls A&B in the Sands Convention Center — and will open on Aug. 15 for four days. The new venue allows for three times the vertical aisles as its former home in Hall G; there will be free Wi-Fi in the cafe for all attendees, and an Off-Price Bistro will offer $5 lunch specials. More than 10,000 retailers are expected to visit the 450-plus vendors at the show, which includes more than 25 new additions.
Although it skipped the February market, the PGA Fall Expo is relocating closer to the action by setting up shop at The Venetian for three days beginning Aug. 16. More than 250 companies are expected to exhibit the latest golf apparel, accessories and gear, and the show will also offer education seminars for buyers as well as PGA pros.
Other shows in Vegas in August include ENK Vegas, moving back to the Wynn from Aug. 16 to 18, and Women’s Wear in Nevada, slated for the Rio Hotel from Aug. 16 to 19.