The final holdout on the trade show circuit has pulled the plug.
MAGIC in Las Vegas, rescheduled to Sept. 30 from its initial dates in mid-August, has officially been canceled, its parent company, Informa Markets Fashion said Friday.
Last week Informa said Coterie, which includes Fame, Moda, Sole Commerce and the previously rescheduled Project and Children’s Club, will not take place Sept. 22 to 24 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Other trade show operators followed suit, with Capsule, Cabana and Liberty Fairs also canceling their trade shows in New York that were slated to take place Sept. 21 through Sept. 23. Liberty had not set a plan to show alongside MAGIC in Las Vegas this fall, although its show always operates at the same time in that city.
Rather than an in-person event, Informa said MAGIC, Project, Coterie, Micam Americas, the footwear show, and Children’s Club will all convert to a digital format that will open on Sept. 1 and run through Nov. 1.
As reported in May, Informa has entered into a long-term partnership with NuOrder, a business-to-business e-commerce platform that brings brands and retailers together virtually.
“Based on our discussions with partners and stakeholders surrounding health, safety, and travel concerns across the country, canceling our late September Las Vegas event, while disappointing, is the best path forward for our fashion community,” said Nancy Walsh, president of Informa Markets Fashion. “Current climate aside, re-evaluating, readjusting, and continually maturing our business model has always been part of our company ethos. Our digital trade event is a natural and necessary first step in revolutionizing and innovating our business in a time that is primed for digital opportunity and outlets.”
Kelly Helfman, president of MAGIC, said the trade show operator had surveyed exhibitors as it was pondering the postponement from August and “well over half” expected the coronavirus situation to have waned enough by the fall to hold the show. But as a result of the spiking cases in Nevada and the fact that anyone visiting there will need to quarantine for two weeks in several states upon their return led to the cancellation. “We can’t put our attendees in a situation that is not safe,” she said. “So we’re pivoting to digital.”
Working with NuOrder, MAGIC will feature new and returning brands in men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories along with footwear and a roster of educational programming. According to Informa, the eight-week-long event will allow retailers time to “leisurely explore a full library of shoppable editorials and engaging educational content, from tastemaker-curated roundups and retail discovery sessions to timely industry insights.”
This content, which will include trend reports, seminars and webinars, will live for all eight weeks on the site, Helfman said.
Participating vendors will work with NuOrder to create digital catalogues, line sheets, 360-degree imagery, and shoppable hotspots to connect and conduct business. Exhibitors are being trained now through weekly webinar sessions on how best to navigate the virtual showroom world, Informa said.
Helfman said starting on Sept. 1, there will be a centralized digital platform and then “marketplaces” for each of the shows. So a retailer can “visit” Project and then search within that show by brand, category, price point, delivery windows, etc.
“The value for buyers is that they’ll be able to discover new brands and work with existing brands,” she said.
Helfman said that once the COVID-19 pandemic is at a more manageable level, Informa will return to in-person shows. “This is just bridging the gap. Face-to-face events are never going anyplace for us,” she said. But a digital component will remain. “We see a hybrid in our future where buyers can use the technology to pre-discover the show and then use it for weeks after.”
Participating in the digital show will be free to retailers and Informa is selling eight-week subscriptions to exhibitors for the shows.