The Vegas trade shows seem to be playing musical venues over the past few seasons. During the August 12 to 14 run of events, Liberty Fairs and Agenda returned from downtown Las Vegas to the Sands Expo while Project and MAGIC Mens joined the all new One MAGIC line-up at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). For the first time ever, Project, Project Womens, MAGIC Mens, The Tents, WWDMAGIC, FN Platform, Pooltradeshow, CURVE Las Vegas, Stitch @ Project Womens, Children’s Club and Sourcing at MAGIC were held under one roof. Over 700 men’s brands, including 150 new exhibitors, presented their s/s 2020 collections across the marketplace. But before exhibitors and retailers get too comfortable at the LVCC, all of the shows under the One MAGIC umbrella will move to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the Feb. 5 to 7, 2020 event due to construction at the LVCC. Only MAGIC will then move back to the LVCC in August 2020 where it will make its permanent home and return to traditional market dates.
Despite the initial challenges and frustrations of attendees to find parking and navigate the many large halls at the LVCC, most seemed pleased with the move. According to Lizette Chin, President of Men’s, the move to the LVCC this season was fairly seamless and well-received by retailers. “I think one of the overriding comments that I’ve heard across the board especially from the retailers is ‘happy to be all under one roof’ which was really the goal - to bring the community together,” said Chin. Exhibitors seemed mostly happy with the move. “It’s been interesting,” said Heath Mawson, Brand Director for The People Vs. “I liked it when they had Project mens and womens together, but it’s been good. If anything, what’s been good for us is the N:OW section because they have great brands that we want to sit alongside and it’s cultivating a community. The more elevated buyers are walking through and the relationships we’ve been able to make, not just at the show but hanging out at night, is cultivating a streetwear community,” he added.
To help attendees navigate the new location, the MAGIC Mobile App was introduced this season. Entrance to the show required attendees to download and install the App in order to receive a wristband. According to Chin, the App was successful although there was some pushback because attendees didn’t receive actual name badges. Chin said they plan to revisit that moving forward.“When it’s a new home it takes a minute for everyone to get their bearings,” said Chin. “That’s why we launched the App so that we can help people find their way through the space.”
In addition to the move to the LVCC, there was plenty of new activations at the men’s shows. The N:OW section, which debuted two seasons ago, was thriving while The Tents was noticeably smaller. New initiatives introduced this season included an ongoing partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). CFDA X PROJECT hosted a hand-selected group of menswear designers in a newly created section called N:OW LAB. Designers and brands included Kenneth Nicholson, NIHL, Sánchez-Kane, Victor Li, and Willy Chavarria. Additionally, a new brand showcase from sister show Project Tokyo featured influential Japanese designers, Bonum, Flutten, Graphzero, Onemade and Surreal MFG, many offering progressive denim/workwear. An exchange program is also planned for American brands to be featured at Project Tokyo.
Liberty Fairs and Agenda were business as usual back at the Sands Expo. “We’re super excited to be here,” said Liberty Fairs Co-founder Sharifa Murdock. “We tried something new last season because of the date switch and it worked. But we thought it would be really great to come back to the Sands because of all the amenities.” The show featured a mix of brands across contemporary, heritage, denim and apothecary categories including Nana Judy, John Varvatos, Stone Island, CP Company, Flower Mountain, Scotch & Soda and Vince as well as denim brands including Levi’s, Neuw, Denham, BLDWN, AG, Lee, Wrangler, Hudson and G-Star RAW. There was a Indigo lounge sponsored by Jack & Jones, a barber shop and wellness space.
While retailer and exhibitor attendance was steady, Murdock noted that retail is suffering and cited Barney’s New York as an example. She said it is a “nerve wracking” time, but it’s an opportunity for brands and retailers to refocus and change strategies. “I think retail needs to really figure out who their consumer is and who they’re trying to target,” said Murdock. “You have to understand your consumer.”
Murdock also stressed that collaboration for trade shows is key for success going forward. “I think for now with the changes in the industry, especially the men’s industry, for Liberty, were trying to do more collaborative things. It’s not about competing,” Murdock said. “It’s about the brands and the retailers and making it as convenient as possible so when they come to our spaces they’re able to do their work and do what they need to do,” she said adding that simple things like shuttle services and getting on the same calendar should be easier and more collaborative. Next season, Murdock noted that attendees should see some changes at Liberty. “We have a lot of planning ahead,” said Murdock. “With the change in venue for Project and the change of dates it’s definitely enticing and exciting to bring things to the table that we haven’t done in the past. So you’ll see some things changing for the Feb. shows.”