At the recently concluded Magic Show at Las Vegas, it was obvious that the downturn which had kept the retailers indoors for the past two seasons was on the decline as over 90,000 attendees from every state in the US and over 80 countries were present this year representing over 3,500 companies and 4,800 brands. In fact, attendees at MAGIC represented over $ 195 billion in US consumer apparel sales and private label marketers with $ 35 billion in purchasing power. Overall, Advanstar Fashion Group, which produces MAGIC, said it added 1,00,000 net square feet of floor space this season, a 16% increase over last year. The company also said there were more than 3,200 exhibitors, 1,300 of which were new.
The Indian contingent of 22 exporters led by the AEPC showcasing at the Sourcing Zone was generally happy with the footfall. “We were participating for the first time, but we met a lot of buyers from all over the world,” says Vikas Ghai, Impex V, New Delhi. The buyers according to him were more interested in women’s wear – woven tops and dresses. Skirts, he pointed out, did not have many takers. “The Indian contingent would have made a better impact if it had been bigger like the Chinese, Korean and Egypt contingent, because the range of offerings would have been more comprehensive,” adds J. L. Sehgal, Kiran Associates, Gurgaon.
The unanimous opinion of all the participants is that the visitors were mostly small buyers looking for small quantities. “Most of the buyers that we met were looking at products with FOBs around $ 2 and that too in small quantities… it was not viable,” bemoans Pradeep Kumar, Milestone Overseas, Tirupur. The same was echoed by Sehgal, “We are doing more value-added products and the prices being offered did not match with our profile.”
However, exporters who had exclusive products felt the fair had much to offer. “We are a designer label and as a first timer enquiries we received were good. Booking quantities varied from 100 to 500 pieces,” informed Jai Singh, Blue Coral. He further added that it would have been more fruitful if he had participated in the WWD women’s wear section as his products were more in line with products showcased there. The company was showcasing Kaftans, Tunics in bright colours with beach look.
That prints are a craze was evident to all the participants. Tops and dresses that had innovative prints in different techniques caught the attention of visitors. Embroidery was low key and preferred in delicate application. Shades of green, brown and rust were the preferred colours though the classic white also had many takers.
“Most of the buyers that came to sourcing zone were looking at products with FOBs around $ 2 and that too in small quantities…”
Buyers at Magic
According to the participants buyers are still wry of placing big orders. “We noticed that there was an air of caution and only buyers who had more than 100 stores talked of more than 5,000 pieces,” says Vikas. Buyers too did not shy away from admitting that they were taking it slowly. “From the retailers’ side, it is still about price, but quality is also important. So now it’s also about delivering better quality at better prices, but not necessarily lower prices,” said Dan Weaver, Vice-President for design at Tandy Brands Accessories Inc. Scott Collins, Vice-President and GMM of the Baltimore-based urban chain, DTLR, said, “he was being ‘aggressive’ in his open-to-buy for fall since inventories are so lean, it’s ridiculous. We have a great feeling about 2010. We expect there will be some more contraction in the marketplace and the better retailers will flourish.”
At the women’s show, a continuing trend was placing orders much closer to the selling season, with some smaller retailers sticking with goods for immediate sale. The biggest thing that was noticed about buying habits is that while earlier there used to be a spring and fall buying season where you’d see a large spike and then it would taper off. Now, although there are initial orders at MAGIC for spring and fall, there’s less ordering up front – but then subsequent orders for restocks are higher than in the past.