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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta

Changes Afoot as MAGIC Show Begins

30 August 2004

LAS VEGAS -- When the apparel industry rings in the new year in 2005, a new era of competition begins.

Jan. 1 is the date when a World Trade Organization quota system for apparel and textiles is eliminated by 146 member nations, changing several competitive aspects of clothing distribution.

The elimination of the quota system will be a hot topic this week when the four-day, twice-a-year MAGIC Marketplace apparel trade show -- Las Vegas' largest summer convention -- opens its doors today at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

About 3,300 exhibitors -- 1,200 of them showing goods for the first time -- are participating in the trade show on a 930,000-square-foot show floor. About 90,000 people are expected to attend.

The winter MAGIC show in February had attendance of 85,000 and a trade show floor of 865,000 square feet.

"This is the last major fashion trade event before the quota system ends," said Ernae Mothershed, a spokeswoman for MAGIC International, a subsidiary of show producer Advanstar Communications.

Mothershed said analysts are attempting to determine what the bottom-line impact will be on clothing line producers and retailers. Some say the elimination of quotas will flood the market with apparel and costs will fall. Others say the vast resources and inexpensive labor costs in nations such as China will result in economic chaos in several international markets.

Several viewpoints will be presented in seminars at the show, which is closed to the public.

MAGIC -- an acronym for Men's Apparel Guild in California -- has grown to include a broad array of clothing lines and is now four events in one. The four divisions are MAGIC, Men's Apparel and Accessories; WWDMAGIC, Women's Apparel and Accessories; MAGIC kids, Children's Apparel and Accessories; and the edge, Alternative Trends and Lifestyles.

This week's show will be the first MAGIC event conducted in one convention center. In previous shows, some events have been at the Las Vegas Convention Center and some at the Sands Expo Center at The Venetian.

WWDMAGIC -- for Women's Wear Daily -- had been at the Sands since August 1998.

Mothershed said MAGIC International decided to move the show because of problems exhibitors and attendees had shuttling between the women's show and the events at the Convention Center.

Advanstar filed a lawsuit March 19 against the parent company of the Sands Expo Center, Interface Group-Nevada Inc., to get out of a contract to hold the show at the Sands beginning Aug. 30, in February 2005 and in August 2005. In response, Interface filed its own lawsuit on March 24 to either prevent the show from being moved or allow the Sands out of the contract with Advanstar.

U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan on May 11 denied Sands' motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the show from being moved. On June 15 Mahan denied both parties' motions to dismiss the other's cases. The cases have since been combined and are pending.

Richard Heller, president of Sands Expo Center, had no comment on the lawsuits. In court filings, the Sands argued that Advanstar wanted to continue to hold the space at the Sands by paying the contract's minimum fee of $612,000 -- without being forced to hold the show there. The Sands argued that it was being held captive in the contract, didn't have the ability to book other conventions in the space and that it was losing money it expected to make from attendees who were expected to stay at The Venetian.

The Venetian is one of 20 hotels to which MAGIC Marketplace is offering attendees free shuttle service.