Roughly 115,000 people – twice the population of North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck – book their flights, hotel rooms and transportation months ahead of February 13, the start date of MAGIC, the fashion industry’s trade show that acts as a brew-ha-ha for fashion innovation, style and standard.
For 70 years, Las Vegas, home to the MAGIC trade show, has played host to retailers and exhibitors throughout America, Europe and nearly every place imaginable, because what happens in Vegas from February 13 through 16 does not stay in Vegas. In fact, it is MAGIC’s purpose to meticulously serve as the glue that holds the delicate fashion industry’s best interest, permanently pressing its bottom line and expounding a static free future for fashion.
Consumers that shop at Turntable Lab and Commonwealth may have little clue, or none at all, as to what MAGIC’s role in street-wear has been, is and will be for years to come. Street-wear soldiers like UNDR-CRWN, Crooks & Castles and The Hundreds participate in MAGIC, paving, building and sculpting a future for street-wear. Vice president and general manager of MAGIC, Chris McCabe, explains street-wear’s role at MAGIC.
Format: Please explain the street-wear industry’s association with MAGIC.
MAGIC: MAGIC was the first fashion trade show to create a home for street-wear. Trade show’s hadn’t really identified or seen the significance of the street-wear trend and MAGIC did and ran with it. Today, we’re the undisputed king of street-wear for trade shows.
Format: What year was street-wear introduced to MAGIC?
MAGIC: I think it was approximately 10 years ago, so we’re thinking of an anniversary theme next year.
“Having the opportunity to shell out a relatively little amount of money to put yourself before the industries’ leading buyers from specialty shops and department stores, that in itself has a lot of value.”
Format: Although MAGIC has been in operation for approximately 70 years, the average street-wear consumer does not know what MAGIC is. Please explain what MAGIC is.
MAGIC: MAGIC evolved, and if you’re curious about the acronym, it once stood for Men’s Apparel Guild In California, that is not what it stands for now; MAGIC is just MAGIC. But like you said, it’s been around for decades and it has grown into the leading trade show for the fashion industry in the United States. Held twice a year, we cover everything from men’s, women’s street-wear, to sourcing, which is the supply chain area of what it takes to run a fashion company.
Format: What is the difference between MAGIC and New York Fashion Week?
MAGIC: They’re similar in a way. Street-wear and MAGIC is similar to what couture is to the New York Fashion Week. Street-wear continually reinvents itself and what you see at MAGIC within street-wear is what the consumers will eventually be buying. Fashion Week is for a very high-end fashion sensibility that really isn’t widely worn, it inspires, but it’s not worn.
Format: Please explain the preparation that MAGIC has to make to be successful.
MAGIC: There is a lot of prep work. In some ways I’m already working on a show five years from now, because you have to get dates for the venues so far in advance. But with regards to street-wear it’s kind of unique – it’s exciting which makes it special. Within street-wear there really seems to be a community that helps propel it. So MAGIC, my team, we’re very professional, very dedicated to putting on a fantastic event for both the retailers and the exhibitors. The participants within street-wear have, in many ways, adopted street-wear as their own and they act as our ambassadors. We have established brands like Rocawear, Akademiks, Phat Farm, people like that, who act as apostles, as well as the up and coming loyal brands like The Hundreds, Obey, Crooks & Castles, guys like that, and they know that we work real hard for them–it works for them–so it’s in their best interest to be ambassadors for us. As new and emerging brands come in this community, while I’m sure there is an element of competitiveness amongst them, they’re also fraternal and they look out for each other, and they recommend where they should go to help their business. We’re very fortunate to have the companies I mentioned, do that for us. It’s really a nice partnership which makes it special.
Format: Please explain the layout for the street-wear exhibits.
MAGIC: It runs the gamut; we have big traditional booths particularly for companies that are established, like I mentioned earlier, Phat Farm, Akademiks, And1, guys like that, then we have environments within the show where they are more creative turnkey opportunities to display your product where you don’t have to shell out that much money, but you still have a nice presence. We have two themed environments, one is called the Campground for new and emerging brands and then we have Street Culture which is really the art, music influenced group of apparel fashion companies.
“The MAGIC Marketplace includes all of MAGIC, plus we also now own events called Pool and Project and they take place along side MAGIC in Vegas. All tolled, we’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 115,000 industry personal.”
Format: Please explain the difference between MAGIC and other industries’ trade shows.
MAGIC: There’s no doubt that MAGIC, in general, is just exciting. There are so many people from the industry there that it just leads itself to creating a buzz. But it’s really the whole gamut of the fashion world from men’s, women’s, street-wear and they all feed off each other, and MAGIC is merchandised for the retailers. While we certainly appreciated our exhibiting friends, we designed the show floor strictly for the retailers to make their shopping experience as powerful as possible.
What that does, is it allows them to focus in on those categories that make the most sense for their stores, but it gives them the opportunity to walk through other categories that they might not think are applicable to them, but they get ideas from it and they can apply it to their business. So as someone may come strictly for street-wear, they might pick up some ideas walking through our North Hall which has our WWD MAGIC, our women’s side of things and they get ideas. It’s really a great opportunity in four relatively short days, see the whole market, network with people who are likeminded, as well as people who you may not think you have anything in common with and you come up with creative ideas to move forward with your business.
Format: Why is MAGIC in Las Vegas?
MAGIC: You can name any number of reasons; it’s an easy town to work in, as far as we’re concerned, putting on shows, they’re very accommodating, they have infrastructure to house such a large event. No doubt it’s fun, exciting things to do at night, restaurants and it’s easily accessible. Whether you’re coming from L.A., New York or even Europe it’s relatively easy to get to, it’s easy to get around. It’s a traffic location with a traffic venue to put on a show of this magnitude.
Format: Roughly how many people attend MAGIC?
MAGIC: The MAGIC Marketplace includes all of MAGIC, plus we also now own events called Pool and Project and they take place along side MAGIC in Vegas. All tolled, we’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 115,000 industry personal.
Format: Street-wear is a relatively young industry. How does MAGIC assist in educating the street-wear industry in the business of fashion?
MAGIC: Having the opportunity to shell out a relatively little amount of money to put yourself before the industries’ leading buyers from specialty shops and department stores, that in itself has a lot of value. There are some other intangibles like networking with peers and so fourth, they learn from each other, but also MAGIC has a fairly robust conference program that touches on subjects like how to run a better retail business, how to grow your business marketing initiatives, like a lot of how to’s to improve your business. The other thing is our sourcing area. Sourcing makes sense to a lot of our exhibitors that might want to get better at the sourcing aspect of their apparel lines or when crating private labels – it’s right there for them. So instead of having to travel some place like South America, Vietnam or China you can come there. We have roughly 30 countries represented there providing all the services, whether it’s contract manufacturing, fabric and trends it’s all right there for them. That’s another benefit they have, they can meet people that will supply their goods more efficiently.
“As new and emerging brands come in this community, while I’m sure there is an element of competitiveness amongst them, they’re also fraternal and they look out for each other, and they recommend where they should go to help their business.”
Format: Is MAGIC concerned about street-wear clashing with other fashions that may not be likeminded?
MAGIC: I found our street-wear customers to be full of energy, very positive, very enthusiastic so there hasn’t really been much clashing. I actually find customers from our other segments they get energized walking through there, because it’s very youthful and it’s hard not to get pumped up when you’re surrounded by young, exuberant people looking to make their mark. But it’s interesting, too, there are companies that kind of graduate from street-wear, I think a great example of that is Sean Jean. They got their start in street-wear and they’re now in what we consider our designer area in the men’s section in a different hall at MAGIC. It’s all an evolution and it all works.