The strong January jobs report released last week revealing the national unemployment rate improving to 8.3 percent with the creation of 243,000 net new jobs couldn’t have come at a better time for vendors heading to WWD MAGIC.

This story first appeared in the February 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In recent seasons, the flood of negative financial news has dampened the mood at the apparel trade show and discouraged orders, but optimism about the country’s economy could finally be emerging and setting up WWD MAGIC for productivity not seen since the start of the recession.

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“In general, it seems that the economy is picking up,” said Simone Legno, artist, creative director and co-founder of Los Angeles-based Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand Tokidoki, which will be presenting its newest wares in the juniors section of WWD MAGIC. “There is a bit more enthusiasm in the air, and in our case, I think it is going to be a better show than the previous ones.”

But the recession’s long shadow hasn’t completely disappeared. The drive for continually lower pricing, consumer caution and selective buying on the part of retailers remain areas of concern for manufacturers. For stores, the employment gains are definitely welcome, but there’s no guarantee they will last and, as the presidential election nears, uncertainty about future leadership could stifle spending.

“The quantities will be about the same, but the articulation of their buys will be more on point,” said Eric Jones, chief executive officer and founder of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Luxury Apparel Group Inc., which owns, an online fashion retailer that also provides e-commerce services to brick-and-mortar fashion boutiques. “I think they are going to pick lines much more intelligently. No one is taking any risk.”

“The consumer is a bit more careful in terms of how she spends her money,” said Bruno Schiavi, designer, founder and president of Australian fashion supplier Jupi Corp., which produces the Kardashian Kollection and Dr. Rey Shapewear, and is launching PM Collection with Peter Morrissey at the show. “Gone are the days where she can buy a $1,500 dress and think this is going to be a one-off purchase. Now, she likely spends that money [on] three or four different outfits.”

The three-day show runs Monday through Wednesday, with Sourcing at MAGIC opening a day earlier on Sunday. Events take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. For more information, see

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