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MAGIC Las Vegas: a trade show survival guide

Las Vegas is famous for being larger than life so it's no surprise that one of the biggest fashion trade shows in the world is held there bi-annually. Taking place between 12-14 August this year, MAGIC brings together some of the most influential fashion retail decision makers and the world’s top fashion brands.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the vast number of activities and exhibitors? Fret not- we’ve got MAGIC’s measurements. Whether this is your first time attending or you’re a seasoned vendor, we’ve put together a list of links and information for you to get the most out of the show.

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Before you visit MAGIC, or any other trade show it is valuable to align your business expectations with the program of the show. First up;

What is your main goal in attending MAGIC this year?

Vendors, is your primary objective to increase your customer base by selling on new marketplaces or looking to build relationships with manufacturers? Buyers, is your team searching for the next big trend (take a sneak peek into this year’s Brand Books) or are you looking for new suppliers to diversify your product catalog?

Perhaps you are attending to better understand the show, in hopes of exhibiting next year. Whatever the case, scoping out business objectives will help you and your team remain focused and narrow down the list of activities to attend.

Who’s in town?

From the height of advanced contemporary luxury brands, to the latest trends in fast fashion, MAGIC fuels the business of fashion. MAGIC attracts more than 70,000 industry insiders to Las Vegas twice a year in February and August, including over 4,000 exhibitors, from 120 countries. The show aims to make it easier for businesses large and small to collaborate with like-minded visionaries in menswear, womenswear, footwear, children’s and sourcing. 

Seminars and events this year focus not just on the upcoming trends that are set to disrupt the apparel industry but also on the rise of ethical fashion and sustainable commerce.

For Buyers: what you need to know about MAGIC

Preparing for your trip

For verified retailers, registration is free to attend all shows taking place at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). For non-retailing business categories, a fee of $500 - $2,500 may apply. Register online.

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Check out MAGIC’s show information. The site contains show hours, recommendations around accommodation and dining, a floor plan and more.

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If you are unsure of what to bring to the show, the event website has a comprehensive checklist of tips and guidelines to help you prepare for the show.

The checklist lists helpful items to pack such as:

  • Re-sale certificate and tax id number
  • Projections, otb and calendar appointments
  • Business cards: keep them with you even during social events
  • Notebook, pens and calculators
  • Order sheets
  • Phone book: you never know who you might have to call when you are far from home
  • Mini stapler to staple cards to order sheets or cards into your notebook
  • Large tote bag for all the line sheets
  • Register online for market info
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop for checking e-mails and working orders at night. Most hotels have a business center that you can check e-mail as well

If you are travelling to the United States for this event, MAGIC has also pooled together guidelines to make your visa application process as painless as possible. 

Another tip to get the most out of your time at the tradeshow is to schedule meetings with your most important vendors ahead of time. With everything that’s going on at MAGIC, scheduled appointments guarantee you won't miss anyone you need to see.

Download the MAGIC app to help you navigate the whole show. It includes Floor Plans, an Exhibitor Database, Seminar and Event Listings, general Show Info, and offline access. It will be your north star during the event!

You’ve made it to Vegas, now what?

After you’ve set business objectives for the show, scheduled vendor appointments and narrowed down the list of vendors to visit, it’s time to explore MAGIC. Check out MAGIC’s show planner.

The MAGIC Show Planner is designed to plan, maximize your time and make the most of your on site experience.  

With countless features, up to date floor plans , seminar and event listings and a mobile responsive design, everything you need is at your fingertips. Add events to your own personalized calendar, have a look at detailed maps and save key vendors and exhibitors that you want to visit, and print your agenda from there.

Aside from checking out your favorite vendors, MAGIC has a series of events and seminars planned throughout the trade show on topics from sourcing, upcoming trends and growing your business to customer service, accessory trends and how to get more customers. Check out the Events and Seminars schedule to plan which ones you’ll attend.

Now it's about navigating your expectations and the trade show itself:

Dos and Don’ts of MAGIC:

Do negotiate!

Vendors are open to negotiating, as long as you make a well-researched reasonable offer. Think of it as an opportunity to build a long term relationship with your business partners and establish a deal that is mutually beneficial. Make sure you know exactly what you want and what your own terms are before entering into negotiations with buyers. Keep in mind that you may be more successful with larger quantities. Speak with lots of vendors before making your decision. Here are a few more tips for negotiating on the tradeshow floor.

Do go if you’re looking for Spring and Summer fashion

It's been a scorching summer and the fashion lines at MAGIC this August are all about the warmer temps too. Most vendors at MAGIC will be showing their spring and summer collections. Catch the February shows if you’re looking for fall and winter fashions.

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Do your research before you go

Especially if this is your first time, prepare well in advance of attending the show so that you don’t waste time. The convention center spans over 1.9 million square feet with exhibitors in men’s, women’s, children’s, junior’s, footwear and accessories - making it virtually impossible to wander around without a plan and hope to be productive. Plan your time there by factoring in your requirements and preferences: local vs. international production, price vs. quality, etc. Set your standards and open-to-buys before you attend the show to make sure you know what you want while attending.

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Do be ready to network!

A huge advantage of a trade show is the face to face interaction with everyone you want to do business with. Be ready with ready with your business cards, introduce yourself, talk about your own business and expand your network within the industry.

Do follow up!

Don't let what happens in Vegas, stay in Vegas. After MAGIC, follow up with all the contacts you made and deals you’ve worked out. It’s a huge show, with lots of interactions, a little contact when it’s all over can make the difference. 

One of the struggles many attendees face is keeping track of all the business relationships they establish over the course of the show. For vendors, the challenge is twofold as many retailers may express an interest in place orders from their catalog. Consider investing in a simple mobile inventory and relationship management app that you can access from your mobile phone, both on and offline.

Don’t hesitate to question the people you’re doing business with.

Here is a great list of questions to ask when starting to work with new vendors. They include establishing good relationships, demanding quality, asking about seasonal product availability and knowing brands before you invest. Also, they advise making sure that there are no hidden costs in the price, such as import/export taxes and to not feel pressured by minimum orders - there are always options such as broken packs or lower prices for minimum orders.

Don’t go to Sourcing at MAGIC if you’re a small business.

Magic Sourcing is a great resource for large/ established brands that make orders in large quantities. For small businesses and start-ups, Sourcing can be a great source of inspiration and education on what drives the fashion industry. 

However in terms of purchasing, many small business owners tend to feel pressured and coerced into considering the other products that a vendor has to offer each time they walk into a booth. So skip sourcing if you are a start-up and focus on the rest of the show.

Don’t forget to download your MAGIC app.

This MAGIC App will make navigation a breeze. Download it.

Don’t forget your comfortable shoes!

Seriously, if the fashion world tells you to bring comfortable shoes, you bring comfortable shoes.

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For vendors exhibiting at MAGIC

Most of our tips so far have been on the buyer’s side - what if you’re an exhibitor? MAGIC has a complete section of online resources for you too. Check out the Exhibitor Kit for each of the 12 unique communities showcasing the latest in apparel, footwear, accessories, and manufacturing. 

Each Exhibitor Service Manual lists show information, allows vendors to view what is included in their booth, has resources to help you ship items to the show and covers a list of important dates and dates lines you need to be aware of.

There are some questions you, as a supplier, can expect to hear at a trade show. They include questions like “What is your minimum order quantity?” and “Where is this made?”, or "how do you assure quality in your products?". Before the tradeshow, think of what the buyer will want to know from their perspective, and be ready for their questions before they even ask. 

Make it happen at MAGIC

You’re now ready to take on MAGIC August 2019! Go for it, download the MAGIC app on your phone, grab your order sheets and keep your goals in mind. Good luck in Vegas!

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See Also:

How to rock a trade show

Tips for successful supplier relationship management

Insider tips from a China-based sourcing agent

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