Back for another dose of Trudy, are you? The first one wasn’t enough for you? Ah well, in part two, inimitable Trudy describes the plethora of “contraceptive wearables” she found (guaranteed to leave you unsullied), courtesy of the ‘stupid product magnet’ she claims must be embedded in her forehead.
The biggie! I arrived bright and early at the North Hall entrance to find a heaving mass of people, most of them trying to register. Crowds to the left of me, jokers to the right indeed…It really was rammed, but in fairness the show staff were helpful if a bit stressed out. I’d pre-registered (yeah, just call me Mrs. Smuggy McSmuggins from Smugtown) so I just had to scan in my bar-coded letter from them at a special bank of computers and –voila!- I’d get my badge. Except…it didn’t quite work like that. One big bank of computers had a techno-meltdown of epic proportions, so there was an increasingly hysterical mob (really-rag trade people can be such drama queens) trying and failing to get their badges. I managed to find another totally deserted bank of computers a short walk away so got my badge (and of course, crowned myself Queen of Smugdom, because I was feeling pretty darn smug) and I was in.
I started at the right hand side of the North Hall, checking out the children’s wear booths… incidentally, if you are walking the shows, I found that the best thing to do was
a) go in via the quietest door and
b) just amble up and down the aisles…
I had to stop myself from doing my usual 90-miles-an-hour trot and just slow waaaaaay down so I could actually see what was going on.
The children’s wear booths had a good mix of clothing, shoes and accessories, and seemed to be a little more ‘business-like’ …more DEs than Kid’s Show and more well-established companies too. Also, of course, more ‘Hello Kitty’-type mass-produced junk too, but you can’t have everything. Talking to some booth owners, I got the impression that they were using the children’s show more as a I’m-here-to-be-seen type validation (so they’d follow up on sales contacts made there) than as a purely sales-driven exercise, but really that’s as valid a reason as any to show…
Strolling merrily along I saw out of the corner of my eye something so hideous, so vile, so very wrong on so many levels that I actually had to turn on my heel and go back to make sure that yes, I had indeed seen what I thought I’d seen. High heels. FOR BABIES. I’m not kidding. Some genius had come up with the idea of making some simple ballet-pump type shoes and then sticking a soft, fabric covered high heel onto them. Now these were only available in sizes 0 to about 6 or 9 months (sorry, I was so stunned I can’t remember exactly), so they were definitely for babies. Sweet, snuggly, innocent little babies. What next, diapers with a thong printed on them, or push-up bra Onesies? To add insult to injury (oh yeah, it gets worse) these …creations… were rendered in the nastiest, tackiest patent PVC you can imagine…available in black (!) fuchsia(!!) and leopard print (noooooo!!!!!). And just to add that certain business gravitas, this fabulous product (called “Heel-arious…her first high heels!”) also had a PATENT PENDING. Much as I was itching to tell the vendors that no, they really didn’t need to sweat it, NO-ONE in their right minds was EVER going to knock this one off, I’m afraid I was laughing too much to make any sense, so I went outside to calm down and have a coffee and cigarette.
However, I obviously have a ‘stupid product’ magnet on my head because on my way to get coffee I passed a booth showing …wait for it… footed Onesies. You know, those all-in-one sleep suits with feet. That you put your darling babies in, to sleep snugly all night long (well, they’re exhausted from trying to deal with their “first high heels”), with their little feet tucked cozily away. But hang on a minute, these were for adults. Grown-Ups. People who should know better. Think of a baggy all-in-one pajama, in fleece, with feet, and you’ve got it! I’ve never seen such a blatant attempt at a wearable contraceptive -I guarantee that turning up in the boudoir wearing one of these will leave you unsullied and sadly, unloved. Your pets will have a good laugh though. I’m afraid I can’t remember what the actual name of this fabulous and obviously well-researched (ha!) product was, my brain went into self-preservation mode and it has blocked out all but the basic details. The ‘designers’ (and I use the word loosely here) were sporting their product on their booth, and they appeared to have a model wearing one too…ah, the heady glamour of fashion!…but strangely enough, I didn’t see any buyers visit their stand, not on the first day (when Magic was rammed) nor the next day (when it was somewhat quieter) nor even, surprise surprise, on the Thursday.
After calming down from near-hysterics, I went back in and ambled up and down the aisles. Working from right to left (see, against the flow!) the stands were loosely sectioned off in this order: children’s wear; juniors; young contemporary; contemporary; sportswear and dresses; casual lifestyle; swimwear; occasion and outerwear. The rows were mainly clothing for about 2/3 of the way towards the rear of the hall, then the final 1/3 was shoes, bags and accessories. Along the back wall were various garment and accessory companies, this seemed to be the heavy-on-the-glitz imported goods section.
Smack bang in the middle of the hall was the ‘white’ section…this was the ‘designer’ section, all the walls and carpets were white (yeah, good luck with that for a 4-day show!). This area was kinda carved out of the contemporary and sportswear/dresses sections, and it looked really interesting-a nice mix of bigger, more established companies and smaller DE booths…but here’s the weird thing. The white area was pretty dead for most of the first day (and deader than a dead thing on the two subsequent days I re-visited Magic) but the rows immediately adjoining the white area seemed to be buzzing. It was almost as if the groovy white chic-ness attracted loads of buyers, who were then hesitant to actually step in and dirty-up the white area (oooh! Color psychology at work!) So the surrounding booths really seemed to pick up the white areas’ business… worth bearing in mind if you’re considering showing there next time.
Generally speaking, I’d say this was a good show -if I had been sourcing for a small boutique I’d have found plenty of really great ranges to put in there, but just like WWIN, not so many ‘real clothes’ shown… my pattern cutter’s eye really didn’t find a whole lot to interest me. Some ‘celeb lines’ like Paris Hilton for Dollhouse, Jessica Simpson, some biggies like Tommy Bahama and Esprit and although there were a few interesting DE ranges, they didn’t seem to be getting too much business. This show seemed to be targeted towards more established garment companies, and I really feel that the smaller DE companies were almost used as ‘fillers’…a kinda way for the show to market itself as having a much wider range of vendors.
Magic was very, very busy on the first day, a while lot quieter on the following two days that I visited. And just FYI, the floors at Magic are horrible… really hard on your feet, legs and hips, and I can promise you that after a full four day show there you’d be very head-achey from the slight fumes from the expo-strength carpets. Yeah, I know I sound like a sad old crock (which I am, really) but you need to imagine what your buyers will want…do they want to be pounding the aisles for days on end if that’s going to be physically painful? No, what will happen is that they’ll do the first day, then unless they absolutely have to go back again, they’ll either shimmy off to Project, or take a day off, or go home early.
The plus side was that Magic did offer a $5 lunch option, which was enthusiastically received by both buyers and vendors -again, best keep those buyers on site! -and I attended a truly fantastic and free trends seminar late on the Tuesday afternoon. In all honesty, if I had just attended this seminar it would have paid my trip costs for me. As and when you go to Magic (or any other trade shows) I’d strongly urge you to attend whatever seminars you can manage -obviously go to the ones that really interest you, otherwise you’ll just be stuck doing seminars and not seeing the shows, but really, they can be invaluable.
One of the things that really irked me about Magic was the sheer number of junky giveaways that were literally thrust into your hands as you went up and down the aisles. It was actually easier to take the darn things than try to negotiate your way along empty handed, but I ended up with 12 (12!) big tote bags, sundry pens, t-shirts, a pink thong (!!!!) and various trade show effluvia that I mostly junked or took home for my 5 year old to play with.
I also skipped into the Lingerie show (at the adjoining Hilton) and skipped out again about 3 minutes later…not too much to see, and what there was, pretty dullsville.
Loads of foreign buyers at Magic, and I’d say about 20% of the buyers attending were Japanese… I’m thinking that the weak dollar vis-à-vis high cost of living in Japan makes buying at US shows a particularly good deal for Japanese buyers. Also I suspect that they were giving Aristo-Brats most of their orders …biggest size juniors in the US = smaller sizes for adults in Japan so I think that blinged out slut-wear ‘look’ in those sizes would appeal to those craaaaazy Japanese street-style kids.
Also had a quick look at the Streetwear section, over in the Central and South Halls, on the basis that, well, I was there, seemed silly not to. The Streetwear section was a blast in a kinda ‘good grief it’s a nightclub in here!’ way-they had an on-site barber doing groovy cuts and a lot of different music from various sound systems. Sounded like the Notting Hill Carnival Sound Clash to me, so good luck writing any orders in that din, but what the heck, I wasn’t showing there. Outside with a coffee and cigarette I spied (big-time superstar rapper) Fifty Cent and his enormous… posse… pouring out of their limo and going into the Streetwear section. Sadly I was too exhausted and far too old and un-hip to bother getting a pic with him, or blagging my way into his party that night, but there were plenty of gorgeous young models who would be turning up late for the show the next morning…
Tuesday night was The Big FI Meet-Up (capitals, because it was soooo very important!). FINALLY got to meet the lovely Kathleen, AKA She Who Must Be Obeyed, as well as loads of fun FI people. And the gossip! God I love industry chat…Bethany’s rep-from-hell saga, [censored] (from [censored]) who had brought her sister to ‘Vegas because said sister wanted to get a boob job done, Lamika The Height Goddess’s design and boy dilemmas, sundry tales of contractors gone bad and seasons done well…war stories from the rag-trade battleground!
Another early night for me (I’m such a lightweight) but a really interesting day. Tomorrow? Project!