LAS VEGAS—In fashion, the one constant is change—an adage that applies to apparel trade shows, as well.
The recent run of Las Vegas trade shows featured new players in the mix, new locations and new configurations, giving buyers plenty of shopping options—provided they could get to them all.
"This is the best show I've been to in years," said Cheryl Cohen, founder and president of California boutique chain Wasteland. "There are so many options for women in fashion. Every year [labels] follow the same trends, but this year was completely different. They're giving you a lot more selection."
Debuting this season in Las Vegas was Liberty, the new show by Sam Ben-Avraham, founder of Project and owner of Atrium stores, and Agenda, the 10-year-old streetwear show with editions in Long Beach and New York.
Liberty and Agenda were part of a consortium of shows called Modern Assembly, held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and adjacent ballrooms at The Venetian. Modern Assembly's other member shows included contemporary show Capsule, upscale menswear show MRket, Accessories the Show, and womenswear show Stitch, which was previously called ModaLV. The six shows under the Modern Assembly umbrella shared some marketing outreach but operated separate entities.
Liberty drew praise from exhibitors for its modern décor and tightly focused menswear offerings.
"It's no question—it's a beautiful room, good brands. It looks fresh," said Jeff Shafer, owner of Agave denim.
Jim Kremer, sales rep for new denim brand Shade 55, exhibiting across the aisle from Shafer, agreed. "This reminds me of when Project launched," he said.
Retailer Diane Merrick, owner of the Diane Merrick boutique, was also enthusiastic about the Liberty debut.
"Liberty was unbelievable," she said. "It was where Project was when it first started. Booths were beautiful. People were selling. It was high energy."
In addition to Liberty, Merrick shopped Stitch, Project, ENKVegas and the OffPrice show. Wasteland's Cohen also shopped ENKVegas, as well as WWDMAGIC and Pooltradeshow.
There were changes for the giant MAGIC, as well. WWDMAGIC, the women's apparel show organized by MAGIC parent Advanstar, split its exhibitors into two halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Juniors, young contemporary, premium and ISAM swim resources showed in the Central Hall, and contemporary, activewear and special-occasion lines showed on the second floor of the South Hall, along with the Emerging Designer Showcase, the updated and upscale resources of White, and international collections in the Heart of Pret. Both halls housed accessories collections.
FN Platform, Advanstar's shoe show, remained on the ground floor of the South Hall. And WSA, the shoe show acquired by Advanstar in its acquisition last year of ENK International, was held in the Hilton Convention Center, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Sourcing at MAGIC, also owned by Advanstar, moved to the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The changes did not sit well with YMI Jeanswear President David Vered, who said the changes could confuse some buyers.
"You want the shows to be focused—not so spread out," he said. 'That's key for a show for people to know where they're going. At least with the juniors [section of the show] there's some consistency."
Vered said his team met with YMI's big accounts— including department and specialty stores—at WWDMAGIC, but on the second day of the show, he said, attendance, overall, seemed down.
"It's not the traffic we normally get," he said.
Tents vs. convention center at Mandalay Bay
There were more changes at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, where Advanstar hosts its Project, Pooltradeshow and MAGIC Mens shows.
ENKVegas, also acquired in last year's purchase by Advanstar, moved from a tented venue next to the Mandalay Bay to a new space inside the convention center between the Pooltradeshow and Project.
The Tents, Project's venue for upscale men's lines, returned for a second season, still in its tented location next to the Mandalay Bay.
Project MVMNT, Advanstar's streetwear show, returned for a second season on the second floor of the Mandalay Bay next to MAGIC Men's.
In its new location, ENKVegas resembled Project's women's offerings in years past, but most exhibitors said they were happy with this season's new venue.
"It's better than the tents, for sure," said Hayley Shannon of Terry Sahagen Sales (TSS), which was showing several brands at ENK, including San Francisco–based Weston.
"This morning, we had really nice traffic," Shannon said on the second day of the show. "We're [showing] pre-Spring, but they're leaving orders."
Irvine, Calif.–based Z Supply was at the show with two new lines, Black Swan and White Crow, both designed by Z Supply's Rachel Anne Rainwater.
The designer described Black Swan as "more-refined feminine punk" while "denim-driven" White Crow has a more youthful vibe.
This season Z Supply took a larger space to allow the two collections to spread out across an aisle from each other.
"It's fun when there's a lot of people in the booth but not if you can't get sales done," Rainwater said. "So we added more space."
ENK also had a separate area, called Oasis,for new and emerging brands, including Calvin Rucker, the high-end "denim couture" collection designed by Joie Rucker and Caroline Calvin.
Rucker described the turnout at ENK as "amazing."
"The right stores have been coming in, so we opened new accounts," she said.
And still more
For lingerie and swimwear buyers, CurveNV returned to a series of ballrooms on the third floor of The Venetian after one season in a central space on the ground level of the Sands. Exhibitors were pleased with the return to the more-intimate venue.
The OffPrice show also returned to its original location on the ground floor of the Sands after a season on the second story. The show, which was buzzing with activity on its second day, drew favorable reviews from exhibitors.
"I'll tell you, I'm thrilled," said Mark Hollinger, president of Normar Sales. Hollinger said he met with several new accounts, including stores from Jordan, Spain and Puerto Rico.
This season, the PGA Expo golf show returned for its annual run on the second floor of The Venetian, as well. And WWIN (Women's Wear in Nevada) returned to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with a sold-out show, and its childrenswear show, Kidshow, was held again at Paris Las Vegas. l
Additional reporting by Andrew Asch
Extended coverage of the Las Vegas trade shows will appear next week at ApparelNews.net.