WWD/MAGIC: A NEW SPIN

Byline: Michael Marlow

LOS ANGELES — WWD/MAGIC rolls into Las Vegas Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 for its third installment, and the women’s version of the pacesetting MAGIC men’s wear show returns with new vendor groupings for easy shopping. Also notable is a significant increase in contemporary exhibitors.
While the opening night party kicks off with Rod Stewart, who will perform Monday at the Aladdin Theater in the Aladdin Hotel, many vendors are planning parties of their own: The networking at night, they said, can sometimes be as important as orders during the day.
Joe Loggia, chief operating officer of MAGIC, said the focus for January has been on the quality of the show, held at the Las Vegas Hilton Convention Center, not its size.
“We decided to concentrate on merchandising and overall quality,” Loggia said, noting he had hired a merchandising consultant to help achieve the right category and product mix. Loggia also worked on the layout of the show so that vendors with similar products are grouped together.
The contemporary category, for example, will get a boost from the new merchandising plan. At the last show, in August, retailers said contemporary was an important part of the scene, and in January the number of contemporary firms will double to more than 150. In all, WWD/MAGIC will have about 625 exhibitors, showing 1,500 lines.
WilliWear is one of the contemporary firms joining the show in February. After launching exclusively in Bloomingdale’s in September, WilliWear will be at WWD/MAGIC to expand distribution to the next level. Lou Schneider, president of World Class Licensing, the New York-based licensor for WilliWear, said its booth will resemble WilliWear’s in-store Bloomingdale’s boutique.
“We want to expose the line to others,” said Schneider, who will show spring sportswear and activewear. “There will be a lot of management there, and we have set up a lot of appointments in one fell swoop. We’re also looking forward to seeing better specialty stores.”
Another contemporary label new to WWD/MAGIC, Los Angeles-based Allen Allen USA, is jumping into the show in an attempt to consolidate some of the orders it gets throughout the year.
Kari Jones, national sales manager, who is showing deliveries from late February to mid-May, has high hopes for the show. “There’s so many shows these days that if you can go to two shows a year and get a majority of your buying done, you’d be in good shape.”
Some of the returning exhibitors have said they were surprised how quickly WWD/Magic became an order-writing show.
Executives at Jalate Ltd., a Los Angeles-based junior resource, had modest expectations for the first WWD/MAGIC last February — until the orders came.
The firm spent $10,000 on a basic booth for last February’s inaugural show and wrote $1 million in business, said Ted Cooper, chief operating officer. In August, Jalate built a special Camp Jalate booth, which included chain link fencing and won an award for booth display at the show. Jalate executives continue to make monthly trips to New York to show the line to key retailers, but WWD/MAGIC has provided a chance to grab additional business and meet with key retail executives.
For some manufacturers, a significant amount of orders have come from international retailers, who have reflected a strong presence at WWD/MAGIC.
In August, international retail attendance at WWD/MAGIC and the MAGIC men’s show jumped 39 percent from February, with stores from 94 countries represented.
These overseas buyers are of special interest to firms such as David Dart, the Los Angeles-based sportswear resource and a unit of Kellwood Co. “The international retailers present a great opportunity, especially stores from Canada and different parts of Asia,” said Marci Gordon, director of marketing for David Dart. “You don’t get those buyers in New York or L.A.”
In August, overall WWD/MAGIC and MAGIC attendance increased 17 percent to more than 70,000, and an increase is expected in January as well.

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