Like a showgirl readying for her encore in front of a tough audience, the fashion and apparel trade shows in Las Vegas will undergo yet another makeover in February with the hope of winning over a new audience in a challenging economy.
This story first appeared in the December 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the midst of a protracted economic slowdown, which has severely curtailed the budgets for both retailers and consumers, the Glitter Gulch hopes to get a jolt of new energy with the debut of FN Platform — a new footwear show that is a joint venture between Advanstar Communications, MAGIC Marketplace’s parent company, and Fairchild Fashion Group, publisher of WWD and Footwear News. In addition, MAGIC and Project, two mainstays in the men’s wear market, will both migrate to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center from the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Expo & Convention Center, respectively. WWDMAGIC, in the meantime, will move to the LVCC’s Central Hall, which will afford space 50 percent larger than its previous location in the North Hall. The new home will allow WWDMAGIC to expand its assortment of bridge labels, accessories and juniors and young contemporary brands.
The Off-Price Specialist Show will kick off its four-day run at the Sands on Feb. 14. The next day, Curve NV and ASAP Global Sourcing Show will bow at the Venetian Hotel, while Women’s Wear In Nevada will launch its show at the Rio.
Feb. 16 will mark the opening day for the remaining shows: Project and MAGIC, which includes MAGIC Menswear, S.L.A.T.E., Premium and Street, at the Mandalay Bay, and WWDMAGIC, Pool Trade Show and Sourcing @ Magic at the LVCC. Capsule, AccessoriesTheShow, Moda Las Vegas and MRket LV will find a home at the Venetian. ENK Vegas will shuffle to the other side of the Las Vegas Strip, moving from the Wynn Hotel to the Bellagio Hotel.
“We’re bringing them to another five-star property on the Strip,” said Elyse Kroll, chairman of ENK International, which runs ENK Vegas. “We feel [the Bellagio’s] a treat and it’s a way to get people to move around.”
For its fourth edition in February, ENK Vegas expects between 170 and 200 brands, an increase from the 140 labels that exhibited in last August’s show. Among the first-time exhibitors are Resin, Literature Noir, Dylan George, Society for Rational Dress and M Collective’s portfolio of brands, which includes Morphine Generation.
Kroll said ENK Vegas moved to the Bellagio partly to be closer to the action at Mandalay Bay. She added ENK Vegas will provide a shuttle between the two locations and take the extra step of subsidizing $30 of the Bellagio’s standard room price so attendees pay $129 per night.
“We really want people to stay with us, and everybody has to take care of their pockets,” Kroll said.
Shifting from the LVCC’s Central Hall to the North Hall, where WWDMAGIC used to be, Pool Tradeshow will continue to take care of the emerging and independent designers at its semiannual show. Stephanie Seeley, Pool’s show director, said after reducing booth rates by 25 percent for last August’s show, Pool will maintain the lower rates throughout 2010. The show also allowed the estimated 200 exhibitors to make four payments, in lieu of two payments, to allow participating companies to better regulate their cash flow.
With the move of Project and MAGIC to Mandalay Bay, Pool will focus more on women’s brands in accessories and juniors and contemporary apparel. Several brands will also offer both men’s and women’s merchandise. Pool, however, will abstain from targeting shoe designers as it doesn’t want to poach from neighboring FN Platform in the North Hall. Pool’s sole exception for footwear will be Jeffrey Campbell, which will double the size of its booth and sponsor a nail salon.
“It’s about people being on the right show floor,” Seeley said. “It’s really about looking at our business with all the changes that are happening, and all the men’s shows going to Mandalay Bay. I want our men’s business to stay with us. But I don’t want someone to have a bad show because all the men’s shows moved.”
As it hits its one-year anniversary in Las Vegas in February, Capsule is another trade show striving to increase its number of women’s brands. Occupying 70,000 square feet, triple the size of its last venue, Capsule expects to grow the number of exhibiting brands to 250 from 100 — 70 percent were men’s in August. It also aims to boost the number of attendees to more than 6,000 from 5,000.
“We’re doing a very targeted outreach to women’s brands,” said Edina Sultanik, owner of New York-based fashion branding consultancy BPMW, which operates Capsule. “We have a strong list of women’s retailers that we’d like to reach out to. We’re calling them, e-mailing them and sending them things.”
For AccessoriesTheShow and Moda Las Vegas, the women’s-centric shows owned by Norwalk, Conn.-based Business Journals Inc., the challenge is to accommodate all the exhibitors who want to participate in the sold-out shows next February. While ATS expects more than 400 accessories lines to exhibit, Moda anticipates more than 300 apparel brands. That compares with a total of more than 500 labels that exhibited at the two shows last August. Some of the brands that will make their debut at Moda in February are Bod & Christensen, Bruno Duluc, Komarov/Kisca and Saint James USA, whereas ATS will feature Roni Blanshay, Otazu for Additionals, Hilts Willard, Elements by Nature and Cinzia Designs for the first time.
Considering that business continues to be challenging in an economic slowdown as manufacturers waive minimum amounts for orders and retailers buy closer to season, Britton Jones, president and ceo of Business Journals, said his company exists to serve the needs of the fashion industry.
“If the industry changes, we want to be part of the change,” he said. “Retailers coming to the show are looking for product that will differentiate their stores and excite their customers. We’re trying to facilitate that process.”