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With simultaneous shows at multiple Las Vegas venues, organizers expand beyond apparel offerings.

LOS ANGELES — Perhaps no other city so personifies the adage that bigger is better than Las Vegas. So it’s no surprise that the semiannual apparel trade shows held in Sin City are expanding to include everything from children’s dungarees to end tables.

Indeed, the buzzword surrounding the events scheduled to run Aug. 25-31 is lifestyle.

“We’re incorporating larger lifestyle elements into the show,” said Sam Ben-Avraham, founder of Project Global Tradeshows, New York, which is owned by Advanstar Communications Inc.

Founded in 2003 with a niche focus on premium denim and sportswear and an emphasis on the men’s market, Project has broadened its scope to include women’s labels, accessories and, for the first time in August, children’s brands as well as a special section, dubbed Seed, highlighting 15 up-and-coming designers.

“It’s no longer just about great jeans and T-shirts,” Ben-Avraham said, noting that Project will stage its fourth show in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. “There’s a larger group of exhibitors who are doing more of a collection — sportswear that’s casual and sophisticated and covers nearly every classification. So, Project grows as our market does. The same holds true for the wild growth in the kids’ market. It’s not enough to be a hip mom or dad. Now, parents crave the same products, quality and luxury for their children.…For us, it’s all about the brands.”

Women’s brands will still constitute 30 percent of the 550 exhibitors expected at Project. Men’s labels will make up half, and accessories vendors and children’s companies each will make up 10 percent. In August 2005, Project counted 450 exhibitors and approximately 11,000 visitors. The 15 designers selected to show at Seed will receive not only a free booth but also the chance to win a design competition judged by Saks Fifth Avenue’s Michael Macko, Bloomingdale’s Kevin Harter, Kitson’s Fraser Ross and Ben-Avraham. The prize is a free booth at Project’s January 2007 show in New York and a $10,000 order from Atrium, a New York specialty shop founded by Ben-Avraham.

The lifestyle approach is not exclusive to Project and the high-end boutiques and specialty shops that it targets. The Off-Price Specialist Show, which offers garments that are overstock and cost about half of the original wholesale prices, plans to run its home and gift show in conjunction with its apparel market, which also will be held at the Sands in August.

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“One-stop shopping can only benefit our exhibitors, who will gain new audiences and outlets for their goods, and, most important, our buyers, who will gain optimum buying efficiency by having both apparel and home and gift under one roof,” said Bill Jage, chief executive officer of Off-Price Specialist Center in Brookfield, Wis. He estimated that about 450 apparel companies, 70 home and gift vendors and 20 jewelry exhibitors will participate in the August show. “Consumers today want to be able to find what they want and need in one location. Retailers are extending their product categories to meet those needs,” he said.

Convenience seems to be the primary motive for show organizers to pack as much as they can within their walls and try to be all things to all people. Many exhibitors use the Las Vegas trade shows not only to break into the West Coast market but also to reach the international attendees who travel from as far as Australia, Japan and the U.K. But the plethora of options can be overwhelming, and the distance between the various shows — let alone booths — can be tiring to walk.

Take the MAGIC Marketplace. At last August’s show, 100,000 attendees traversed 935,622 square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center to check out the wares of 3,600 companies.

Even though the various shows — including ASAP Global Sourcing, WomensWear in Nevada, Pool Trade Show, Project, Off-Price and the MAGIC Marketplace, which encompasses MAGIC, WWDMAGIC, MAGIC kids and Sourcing at MAGIC — will be held over seven days this August, they all overlap on Aug. 28 and 29. Thus, retail buyers will have to choose a show at the expense of other markets.

That was the case in February, when Robert Isagholian, who was exhibiting at Off-Price, noticed that foot traffic slowed once MAGIC opened its doors, two days after Off-Price started. “If we had more time for ourselves, it would have been OK,” Isagholian, owner of Off-Price Connection Inc. in Los Angeles, said at the time. “Please stop adding shows. We make our buyers go crazy. So many different shows in a few days.”

That’s wishful thinking. Show organizers are adding new vendors and amenities to their events.

Sourcing at MAGIC will welcome Swarovski, the Austrian producer of crystals used to embellish earrings, pricy jeans and any surface imaginable, among more than 700 exhibitors from 30 countries at the August show. For its second partnership with the International Swimwear and Activewear Market, MAGIC will try a new concept called Swim at the Hilton, to be held next to MAGIC’s accessories expo at the hotel adjacent to the LVCC. With the addition of newcomers such as Trina Turk, the number of exhibiting swim brands will increase by more than a third, to 300 from 220.

August also will mark the one-year anniversary of the acquisition of Project and Pool by Advanstar, the parent company that owns the MAGIC Marketplace. At the coming show, both Project and Pool will start on the same day as MAGIC rather than a day earlier, as they previously had. MAGIC Marketplace will run Aug. 28-31, and Project and Pool will be held Aug. 28-30. Ben-Avraham said the decision to open Project on Monday was based on the consensus of the event’s buyers and exhibitors.

Laura McConnell, vice president and general manager of MAGIC Marketplace, said the Woodland Hills, Calif., organization is considering creating a single badge that will allow retail buyers to enter any show owned by Advanstar. Attendees will be shuttled between the MAGIC Marketplace, Project and Pool, which will be held at Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

The shuttles are a source of contention between MAGIC and WWIN, which will run Aug. 28-31 at the Rio hotel. Roland Timny, show manager for WWIN, which is owned by Specialty Trade Shows Inc. in Coconut Grove, Fla., said the trade event focusing on misses’ apparel offers bus service to and from Westcoast Exclusive at Mandalay Bay and Accessories The Show and Off-Price, both at the Sands. But WWIN hasn’t been able to pick up and drop off people at the LVCC. McConnell said MAGIC offers bus service to 22 hotels in Las Vegas and so doesn’t have any room at the LVCC to accommodate WWIN’s vehicles.

At any rate, buyers from nearly 3,000 stores made it to WWIN’s show in August 2005, where misses’ brands occupied more than half the 780 booths. Timny said one sector that is growing is misses’ contemporary. “More of the lines are updating into that category,” he said, noting that misses’ contemporary makes up 30 percent of WWIN’s roster of exhibitors, up from 10 percent two years ago.

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