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Chris Jones

MAGIC Draws Complaints

31 August 2004

So far, so so.

Such was the response from attendees at this year's autumn Men's Apparel Guild in California trade show, which for the first time in six years is taking place entirely under one Las Vegas roof.

Citing requests from frequent attendees who were tired of traveling between the Las Vegas Convention Center and The Venetian's Sands Expo and Convention Center, the producers of the biannual MAGIC Marketplace fashion extravaganza this spring decided to consolidate future shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Those who attended Monday's opening offered mixed reviews on MAGIC's new staging.

"It was much easier for us when this was at the Sands (Expo)," said John Glasscow while touring the Women's Wear Daily, or WWDMAGIC, women's apparel show that until this week had been held at the Sands Expo twice yearly since 1998.

Glasscow's wife, Nancy, said the pair came to the show specifically to scout women's apparel to someday sell from their tanning salon in Chandler, Ariz. They unhappily mixed with crowds that came to examine menswear, children's clothing and other diverse elements of the expected 90,000-attendee MAGIC trade show.

"The parking was inconvenient, there's nowhere to sit down and there weren't enough people to help us check in," said Nancy Glasscow, who has sporadically attended the event over the past 14 years.

Similar complaints were heard from those at a lengthy concession line inside the convention center's North Hall.

Fashion show planner Christine Ritchie enjoyed the change, however, saying the all-in-one format was more like the retail stores where MAGIC's products will eventually be sold to consumers.

"This lets you see how the products will be merchandised" by retailers," Ritchie said. "It's fabulous because you can pick easily where it is you want to go."

Exhibitor Nisa Zap was also among the converts to the combined show format. She said the change has created a cohesive event that makes it easier for buyers to check out products they may have missed in years past.

"Someone who used to come to the men's pavilion didn't always have time to see womenswear at the Sands. Now we've got a much better opportunity to get their attention," said Zap, a sales manager for the Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturers Voom and Mica.

Ernae Mothershed, spokeswoman for Woodland Hills, Calif.-based MAGIC International, said more than 60 percent of MAGIC attendees purchase products from more than one pavilion. As a result, she said most feedback related to moving WWDMAGIC has been positive.

"We had about 3,000 exhibitors in February. This week we have 3,300," Mothershed said, including 1,200 first-timers.

Those new attendees, as well as increased booth sizes by many returning exhibitors, pushed the show's floors pace to 930,000 square feet vs. 865,000 square feet at February's event.

"Informally we've heard talk that (relocating WWDMAGIC) was one of the reasons for the growth," said Mothershed, who also cited a rebounding retail industry and a rush of new talent in the fashion realm.

MAGIC International and its parent, Advanstar Communications, have yet to resolve a 5-month-old legal battle stemming from its move from Sands Expo, where the group was contracted to hold three shows between now and late summer 2005.

However, U.S. District Court documents filed Thursday in Las Vegas showed the parties this month began settlement discussions that have "been fruitful to date," which could suggest an accord will come soon.

Mothershed said MAGIC International subleased space at Sands Expo this week for an off-price clothing show, though she declined further comment on legal issues. A spokesman for The Venetian and its parent, Las Vegas Sands Inc., also declined comment.