Apparel News Las Vegas Roundtable: What to Expect at the Upcoming Trade Shows

Posted by Paul Brindley
on February 12, 2015

Next week is the Fall 2015 round of Las Vegas fashion trade shows known ubiquitiously (and misleadingly) as MAGIC.

Following is a re-post of an article from the February 5 California Apparel News that contains insights and tips from industry veterans on what they expect from the shows and how they will be approaching their buying strategies for the week. They also talk about the current economic climate is affecting their businesses.

For my take on where we are and where we are heading for 2015, see my latest article that went out yesterday.

I will be in Vegas for the 3 days of shows and will be reporting on what I saw and heard at the end of next week.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults


SOUTH HALL: Last August, the Sourcing at MAGIC show was filled with hundreds of booths.

SOUTH HALL: Last August, the Sourcing at MAGIC show was filled with hundreds of booths.


Las Vegas Roundtable: What to Expect at the Upcoming Trade Shows

With more than 20 fashion trade shows showcasing a huge selection of products and styles, MAGIC and its satellite shows will give retailers an opportunity to view the latest collections from brands across the country and around the world.

From MAGIC—whichincludes Men’s, WWDMAGIC, Project, Pooltradeshow,FNPlatform, WSA@MAGIC, ENKVegas, the Tents at Project, and Sourcing at MAGIC—to MRket, Accessories The Show and Stitch, which are part of Modern Assembly—which also includes Liberty, Agenda and Capsule—to CurveNV,Women’s Wear in Nevada (WWIN), Kidshow and OffPrice, every show offers an eyeball-popping array of choices.

California Apparel News Retail Editor Andrew Asch asked fashion veterans with different perspectives on what they expect from the show and what they are seeing with the economy.

Those interviewed included Alfredo Izaguirre, buyer and general manager for LASC, a 4,000-square-foot men’s boutique that has been serving West Hollywood, Calif., for more than three decades; Barbara Fields, president of the 35-year-old Barbara Fields Buying Office, who shops MAGIC as part of her retail-consulting practice; Mas Hayakawa, president of No Rest for Bridget, a “fast-fashion” style chain, with four locations, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Jennifer Althouse, owner of the Althouse contemporary boutique in downtown Los Angeles.

What season are you buying? How many days are you spending at the show? How many shows are you going to?

ALFREDO IZAGUIRRE: We are buying pretty wide, but we are making our dollars available for Immediates. If we are working with a new line, we’re going to be working with them on consignment. [We tell sales reps,] “In this game, you have options: You can have your merchandise sitting in a warehouse, or you can have it in a store.” I’d prefer a store.

Also, when you go to a show, you cannot go with a narrow mission. You have to be open to possibilities. You have to be open to considering the most alternatives possible. You have to see if a look is the same one as was shown last year. You have to think, “What will make it different from last year?”

If you buy through Fall, it is through lines that have a long relationship with the company. For LASC, these are lines such as Scotch & Soda and G-Star.

We just went to New York. I went to Capsule, Project and Liberty Fairs. I did Agenda in Long Beach. In Vegas, we will definitely go back to Capsule, Liberty and Project. You cannot cover every show.

BARBARA FIELDS: We’ll be there for two days.We’re buying Immediates and Back-to-School. Our primary coverage is for the juniors market—WWDMAGIC for juniors. When we shop the manufacturers there, we find out what are key best sellers. We take pictures of key items and publish them in a book that we call the “Best of the MAGIC Show.” By the end of the trade show, we have a report ready that we publish in our offices. We send it out after the show.

MAS HAYAKAWA: Immediates through Fall. We usually go to MAGIC, Project and Platform.

JENNIFER ALTHOUSE: I’m buying for Fall 2015. I do not tend to place orders in Las Vegas. I go there to see what is going on—who is showing, what are the trends. I only go for 24 to 48 hours. I’ll go to Capsule. I’ll walk Liberty even though I do not buy men’s. (It is in my future.) I do walk ENKVegas. At bigger shows, you’ll always find that small brand hiding in the corner. For me, that is what is so exciting, to find that new designer, the designer who is just starting out. If I find that one brand in Las Vegas, I’m a happy buyer, and it has been worth it.

How is the economy? Are your customers spending more? Will you be spending more at the Las Vegas shows?

A.I.: To be honest, we’ll spend the same as we did in February 2014. The bottom line to the deal is that there are [fewer] customers. Shoppers are more price conscious than ever. You see them coming in and looking at price tags. I really depend on my associates to use every opportunity they have with the customer to see if the price is an issue or if a secondary lesser-price-point item can be found. I do believe every customer that leaves empty handed from the store is an opportunity lost. Some people are still buying the way they had always shopped with us. They’ll spend $1,500 to $2,000 or more when they shop, but they are such a small group of customers. Years ago, $300 for a pair of jeans was not unusual in this shop. Now, perhaps, there’s just one style of jeans in the store at this price range.

In conclusion, my job has two main focal points. I’ll engage the customer so they will spend more money for items that they might not have planned for. I’ll also help them find items that can satisfy their need for deals and popularly priced items. We want them to come back over and over again to shop at LASC.

B.F: Basically, [retailers] are buying for shorter delivery periods, so they can keep track of what is happening trend-wise. Retailers have been buying this way since the Great Recession, and until things open up, this will be the way that they will shop; buying close-in for shorter delivery periods instead of extending themselves for future. It’s so they can keep a leash on the trends. It is where we come in. We take the risk out of buying because of our global sourcing. We have the answers. They can buy with conviction. We project what not to buy, what they should buy and what has peaked, so they can avoid any markdowns.

MH: The economy in the last few years has been a little complicated. I hear from our suppliers that the majority of retailers are suffering. For us, 2014 was the year of re-discovering ourselves and making it clear who we are. We looked at what we are buying, how we merchandise and how we market. I feel great that we went through this exercise in a good economy.

Our customers are used to our fast-fashion pricing. As we add unique products to our merchandise mix, they do spend more. That is the whole idea of our new concept store,OPT by No Rest For Bridget. We are giving our customers more options in shopping, including home goods, beauty, activewear, etc.

JA: I won’t be spending more than I have spent in the past. I have to be careful and make sure that buys are extremely tight. I will focus on the top five brands that sold the best at my boutique and buy deeper in those brands. For the next five brands, I’ll cherry pick items. January is a slow month in general. Even though you have sales, many people don’t want to spend because they spent their money in December. But people love that extra bargain. My expectations for January were low, but I reached beyond what I had thought I would sell. I had a great January.

Will there be an “it” item this season? Are there any fashion trends that will be peaking during the show?

AI: To me this season will be about “short boxers.” They are boxers, but they have loose fabric, and they look like little shorts. There’s a newness.

Also, for the past few years, we have been revolving around four main looks [for men]. There is the fitness/modern look mixed with sportswear that has prints all over. With this look, guys will pay $200 for drop-crotch sweat pants with great cuts. Examples of these brands are Drifter, Matiere and Eleven Paris.

There is the sophisticated dress for a special occasion or business-function look, super tailored European modern cool yet casual with great sneakers or cool modern dress shoes with rubber soles. Think of brands such as Tiger of Sweden, Puma Black Station,Descendant of Thieves and Tom Ford Sunglasses.

There is the Americana look. It’s been called the “Lumbersexual.” It circulates around wearing plaid shirts, slim cargo chinos, tailored jeans that are clean or distressed and boots that look like you can climb up a mountain and chop down a tree. “Lumbersexual” brings the Americana look up-to-date with a very tailored touch. I believe clear examples of this are Woolrich, Hickey Freeman, Burkman Bros, 3X1 and Shwood Eyewear.

There’s a fourth look. It’s the Australian influence in fashion—khaki pants, cargo shorts, drop crotches with chino materials that are gathered at the ankle plus cool surfer–inspired printed shirts, tees and tanks. Examples are Globe International, Ksubi and Insight.

B.F.: We’ll know after the show. But there are some things that have not sold. We’re going to be cautious with projections with denim joggers. They did not do well. Regular joggers did well, but denim joggers peaked.

MH: With the lack of newness in fashion in the last few seasons, we are focusing on our “Bridget style,” which is elegant and wearable for work/play. Our buying is also based on “what not to buy” based on our sales analytics. This year that includes boho, crops, Californian fashion and too many prints.

JA: I’m not sure about fashion trends. Trends are just starting to come in. I have always been a big believer in customers buying a carry-over item. An item that you can dress up and dress down, a staple piece, perhaps an oversize black blazer or a pair of black slacks, items of great quality that they can bring to work or in the evening.