By Erika Pope Posted September 3, 2009, 3:18 PM EDT
LAS VEGAS Twice a year, Las Vegas effectively turns into one of the world’s lengthiest catwalks when fashion designers, manufacturers, and buyers converge on the city for Advanstar’s Magic Marketplace. The latest installment of Magic opened at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday and wrapped up yesterday.
Timed to provide a showcase for spring and summer 2010 men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, accessories, and footwear, this go-round attracted about 60,000 attendees (according to a projection by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority), who came from from as many as 80 countries around the globe.
The Magic Marketplace comprises several shows within showsin the convention center's Central and North Halls. For this incarnation of the show, the entire men’s area was redesigned with wider aisles and a layout that showcased similar brands side by side. Mini lounges were positioned to allow buyers to regroup; also on offer were a Wi-Fi lounge, a footwear trend showcase, and a free haircut booth sponsored by New York barber Frank’s Chop Shop.
Making the loudest statement—both literally and figuratively—in the men’s area was the Christian Audigier/Ed Hardy pavilion, which encompassed 32,000 square feet. The sprawling complex included a fashion runway flanked by low ottomans and a stage set against a black-drape backdrop emblazoned with a giant skull and crossbones (actually, crossed wrenches) all set aflame by way of a video screen. Models in Ed Hardy swimwear and accessories sashayed to energetic club music among the dozens of booths, which themselves were largely utilitarian in nature. The rows of colorful, tattoo-inspired T-shirts, shoes, bikinis—even Ed Hardy/Christian Audigier-painted motorcycles—served as the principal decorative elements in the sprawling complex.
“[Christian Audigier’s] booths are always very elaborate,” said Shay Sudry, C.E.O. of Sea and Sun, the licensing company for Ed Hardy Swimwear. “There’s always lots of action, lots of entertainment and celebrities. It’s very hospitality-oriented and lounge-y. It’s just part of the everyday thing with the Ed Hardy brand, especially. And even though it’s so big, it’s always, always busy.”
Also in the Central Hall was the separate but related Pooltradeshow, which focuses on contemporary apparel and accessories by emerging designers, who project a determinedly youth-oriented vibe.
Companion show Sourcing at Magic occupied the Las Vegas Hilton Convention Center, connected to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s second level by an elevated pedestrian walkway. At Sourcing, which actually began a day earlier, on August 30, designers hobnobbed with manufacturers, fabric and trim suppliers, print design studios, and other service providers to plan their fall and winter 2010 looks.
This installation of Magic featured an aggressive from-the-show-floor Twitter campaign. Tweets from the Sourcing floor might have read like a crystal-ball view of fashions for next year and beyond, with attendees enthusing about trends on the horizon.
Events and celebrity-hosted parties are de rigueur at Magic. Will.i.am hosted the menswear opening party at the Venetian’s Tao nightclub on Monday night, and Kenny Chesney performed at an invitation-only, poolside concert at the Hard Rock hotel.
Perhaps most notable at this iteration of Magic was the absence of the fashion-show-ready runway in the convention center's Grand Lobby. Instead, it served as the registration area and site for what was billed as a “Disney surprise event” on Monday—a Mad Hatter-style tea party attended by characters whose attire seemed inspired in equal parts by Cirque du Soleil and Alice in Wonderland. (Disney is scheduled to release Tim Burton's new version of the classic next year.)
Overall, exhibitors cited the event’s relatively brisk pace, despite the show’s obvious contraction in the last 18 months. Sea and Sun’s Sudry noted that there seemed to be a preponderance of “regulars” in attendance and not many new buyers. Past years, he said, drew about 80 percent established buyers and 20 percent new ones; this year it seemed to him only 5 percent of attendees fit the new-buyer category. Magic itself does not release official figures in that regard, but show publicist Kathleen Flaherty reported that its exhibitors and retailers were “up across the board," and that Sundry's estimate was off.