The summer months traditionally are among the weakest for Southern Nevada’s convention and trade show industry.
But every year in August, something MAGICal happens.
The fashion industry arrives in force to provide a springboard to the the city’s fall convention season.
This week, delegates and exhibitors for MAGIC — that’s the Men’s Apparel Guild in California — have returned to the city for the second of their twice-a-year trade shows.
More than 70,000 people are jamming 1 million square feet of exhibits at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for three days through Wednesday to see every kind of clothing and shoe line imaginable for buyers to stock retail shelves next year.
For show organizers, it’s the 52nd time they’ve set up here, producing one of the most loyal-to-Las Vegas events on the city’s convention calendar.
“We have offices in Los Angeles and New York,” said Christopher Griffin, president of WWDMAGIC and SOURCING at MAGIC, producers of the show.
“But after we outgrew the Los Angeles Convention Center, we came to Las Vegas in 1989 and have been here every year since.”
AS GOOD AS MAGIC
And Griffin doesn’t see a scenario for MAGIC ever to leave. Las Vegas is as good for MAGIC as MAGIC is for Las Vegas.
Griffin said Las Vegas is one of the few cities in the country that can accommodate MAGIC’s enormity, both in number of hotel rooms for show delegates and square footage for exhibitors.
Griffin’s 70,000 attendance projection is conservative; the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimates that 80,000 are here for the show, a figure that would produce an estimated $101.5 million in nongaming economic impact.
Griffin cited several reasons MAGIC is enamored with Las Vegas. He said attendees appreciate the affordability of the city, especially in the summer, and the ease of getting from the airport to the hotels and the convention venues.
“You can get something really affordable at somewhere as nice as Bellagio,” Griffin said. “In New York, you can’t get in anyplace for under $300 a night.”
Fashion industry professionals have a reputation for playing as hard as they work so the city’s variety of entertainment and food options plays right into the show’s demographic.
Griffin even likes the weather.
“It’s hot everywhere in August,” said Griffin. “But I think there are some people, particularly our international delegates, that are fascinated by the heat. They want to see what it’s like when it’s 115. And then, of course, for our spring show, the weather is beautiful here in February. There are lots of people from cold-weather climates that love to come here for that show.”
But Griffin said the best draw to Las Vegas is its hospitality.
“This is a great convention town,” he said. “They know the drill. And you know, it’s always nice to be appreciated and Las Vegas makes us feel appreciated.”
A FAVORITE AMONG TAXI DRIVERS
Most in Southern Nevada’s service industry have nice things to say about MAGIC. Taxi drivers, for example, consider MAGIC delegates to be among the best conventioneers for using cab service. That doesn’t surprise Griffin.
“This industry uses cabs all over the world when they travel so it’s a natural that they would use them here,” he said. “When the Las Vegas taxi industry introduced payment by credit card for cab rides, it solidified it even more. It’s convenient and makes it easy to expense on a business trip.”
There’s a vast array of clothing lines on display at the show, most of which will find their way to stores by early next year. It used to be that the August show would offer spring clothing lines for next year and the February show would be for that year’s fall fashions. But the buying cycle has shortened so it isn’t unusual to see both swimwear and heavy sweaters on display in some booths.
The August show used to be the larger of the two MAGIC events, but now, the shows get about the same number of people at each.
Griffin said MAGIC has rebounded from the recession, now drawing as many people as it did prior to the economic downturn. He attributed an overall improved economy for uptick.
This show’s trendy product is denim — anything denim.
Levi Strauss &Co. introduced copper-riveted “waist overalls” selling for 22 cents in California in 1873. Today, companies are using lasers to alter colors and texture on jeans, meeting sustainability and production worker safety goals because water and sandblasters aren’t used to change the appearance of denim wear.
SUSTAINABILITY A KEY
Sustainability is one of the key issues in the fashion industry. Organizations like Toronto-based Source My Garment help fashion designers with information on sustainability and ethical off-shore manufacturing issues.
Nonprofit Cotton Inc. of Cary, N.C., supplies information about sustainability through water conservation and the use of chemicals in both the cotton growing and manufacturing side of production.
David Earley, senior director of global supply chain marketing for Cotton Inc., said U.S. and Australian cotton growers have teamed on Cotton LEADS, a program that educates the fashion industry about best practices and traceability in the supply chain, which in the United States is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to the more than 3,500 exhibitors at this summer’s event, show producers have scheduled 50 seminars with topics ranging from running a successful retail store to fabric and color trends for 2015 and 2016.
Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.