This February will mark the 10th anniversary of WWDMAGIC. To commemorate the occasion, WWDMAGIC management will recognize the 30 vendors that have been with the show since its inception.
“We will be placing a trade ad in the show guide for the original 30 companies, but we want to focus the celebration on the show floor where we will have a few surprises for them,” said public relations manager Ernae Mothershed.
Held biannually in Las Vegas, WWDMAGIC is now one of the world’s largest women’s apparel trade shows.
MAGIC International, a 70-year-old organization that staged its first men’s wear trade event in 1942, occupied various facilities until it settled into the Las Vegas Convention Center in 1989. While MAGIC officially showcased the men’s wear market, vendors would oftentimes show women’s clothing alongside their men’s collections.
In 1995, MAGIC joined forces with Fairchild Publications Inc., parent of WWD, and created a separate women’s event called WWDMAGIC to run concurrently to the men’s wear show. “The collaboration was ideal, as Women’s Wear Daily brought the company’s expertise in the women’s apparel trade industry,” said Mothershed. “And with more than 60 years producing trade events, MAGIC’s experience and trade acumen helped create the best platform to launch a women’s trade event.”
The first WWDMAGIC show, held in the Las Vegas Hilton (adjacent to the LVCC), quickly sold out, with more than 870 booths and more than 500 exhibitors. By the time the second show came around in August 1995, there were more than 1,100 booths.
Since then, WWDMAGIC has had several homes. In February 1997, the show moved into tents across the street from the Hilton in order to expand the booth capacity to 1,600. As WWDMAGIC grew larger and larger, the show’s management eventually arranged for a more permanent space at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in August 1998. But while the Sands was just a short distance from LVCC, the show’s management found that more and more retailers were buying from multiple categories and finding it inconvenient to travel back and forth between the two venues.
The expansion of the LVCC finally allowed WWDMAGIC to join MAGIC in August 2004, which resulted in one of the largest and most well-attended events to date.
The vendors, in particular, have benefited from the increased crossover traffic. “Having everything under one roof is fantastic,” said Corinne Coury, designer of Rico International, a vendor who attended the first WWDMAGIC.
Doug Highsmith, chief executive officer and owner of Dorfman-Pacific, also an original vendor, agreed. “We are in both shows, but when they put it all in the same house, our numbers really went up,” he said. “It has been really beneficial to get it all under one roof.”
Through the years, MAGIC has continuously increased its marketing efforts for WWDMAGIC by expanding the show’s exposure as well as the show’s staff. These efforts have helped the show double in size over the past five years. This February’s show will have around 2,300 booths and more than 1,100 exhibitors. The show’s categories also have grown to include contemporary, better, bridge, updated, outerwear, resort and swim, accessories, juniors’, casual lifestyle and more.
“The show has really become more well-rounded and comprehensive,” said Sigrid Olsen, another vendor who appeared at the 1995 event. “Now there’s a little bit of everything.”
Toni Ray of Hobo, another longtime vendor, said, “It’s come a long way. I’ve watched it grow from being in a little ballroom to outgrowing even the tents. Now they’ve attracted better-quality vendors and gained a broad cross section in all categories. It gets stronger every year.”
The management also has made the show more dynamic for attendees by including educational seminars, state-of-the-art fashion presentations and more sophisticated selling alternatives, such as the new Window exhibition, which will feature better, bridge and updated sportswear lines represented by independent, multiline showrooms.
“WWDMAGIC has remained a successful show because it has continually adapted to the needs of retailers, thereby providing designers the opportunity to exhibit in an unparalleled international fashion market,” said Mothershed. “We constantly have our pulse on the market.”