I’m publishing this PSA because five weeks from now, I’m going to hear a lot of complaints from people who went to Magic to source fabric. It is the same every year. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I say this, do not go to Magic for the purpose of buying fabric.
Don’t get me wrong, Magic is a great show. I think everyone should go to Mecca at least once in their lives but you don’t go to Magic to buy fabric. The primary intent of Magic and its satellite shows is for retail buyers. Designers and manufacturers lease space there to have the opportunity to sell wholesale clothes, accessories etc to stores. Any designer who thinks that Magic is like a Super-Store that should serve their needs from soup to nuts is missing the point. Yes, Magic is a soup to nuts solution but it is soup to nuts for wholesale buyers of clothes not wholesale sellers of clothes.
I’m not saying you cannot buy fabric or maybe even find contractors there but if sourcing is your primary motivation for going, very few of you will have your expectations met. You have to consider why the sourcing section even started. It was started so that buyers (stores) -not sellers like you- could arrange for the possibility of private labeling to fill out their merchandising mix. In other words, Magic is still the (store) buyer’s market. Now, because the sourcing segment was developed to serve as a one stop shop for store buyers to fill out their merchandising mix, there isn’t going to be much variety in the way of fabrics or even product types. Store buyers are looking to fill broad requirements like low cost white tees, black ladies dress slacks or value priced children’s hosiery. Whatever will fill in the gaps between the inventory they buy from you and other manufacturers. Stores that use the sourcing section at Magic will not be providing patterns and designs to any contractors there. At best they will select from samples provided in the booths and have it made up in basic colorways available to them. That’s it. Now if that’s what you also want to do then go for it. However, if you want design flexibility or low minimums, the vendors at the show won’t be very helpful because their target customer (store buyers) are not interested in that to the extent you are.
As designers, you should attend a wholesale market show like Magic well before you ever lease a booth (anything else is insanity). You go to get the lay of the land, see how people in your niche display, sell and promote their products et cetera. Attending Magic and its satellite shows is a very worthwhile expenditure of your time and money as long as you don’t have the expectation that you will be able to meet all of your purchasing needs too. At least that’s how it is now. I am certain that the tradeshow management would love to provide more solutions for people like you too but they aren’t there yet.
Lastly, if you plan to attend a trade show for whatever reason, you should read all the trade show reviews of it you can. I don’t know of another site that publishes as many reviews as we do on F-I but there has got to be at least 30 separate reviews of Magic and all its satellite tradeshows on this site.
Sorry to be such a nag but now I have a post I can send people links to…and if you’re interested in meeting people from Fashion-Incubator at February’s Magic show, be sure to let everyone know you’re coming.