Interview with Ms. Laura McConnell

Face2Face
Ms. Laura McConnell
Ms. Laura McConnell
Vice President & General Manager
Magic -Advanstar
Magic -Advanstar

MAGIC international attracting over 100,000 attendees from around the world the Buyers and the Sellers of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories to converge twice a year in Las Vegas for one of the most influential business events in the fashion industry is wholly owned subsidiary of Advanstar Communications. Laura McConnell has served as Vice President & General Manager of Advanstar’s Fashion group since 2002. Ms. McConnell has led the aggressive growth strategy for MAGIC Marketplace including the 2003 launch of the Sourcing Zone at MAGIC, the expansion of trend areas in adjacent market segments, the strategic alliances with JCK and ISAM and the revitalization of audience development and special events. As General Manager of the Women’s events, WWDMAGIC from 2000 to 2002, Ms. McConnell successfully resumed the event’s growth trajectory increasing both revenue and square footage. Ms. McConnell joined MAGIC in 1997 and served in a variety of roles before being promoted to Vice President of Marketing & Attendee Development in 1999. Prior to joining Advanstar Communications, Ms. McConnell held a variety of key sales and marketing positions in the fashion industry with companies like Guess Inc. and Calvin Klein. Her extensive experience and knowledge in the apparel industry has been instrumental in shaping MAGIC’s growth strategy and serving the different needs of each customer segment. www.fibre2fashion.com in Face2Face channel presents with pleasure more about her insight and views on the important industry issues this week.

Can we begin with the origins of your company?

"Formerly known as the Men’s Apparel Guild in California, MAGIC was founded in 1933 as an association of Los Angeles area menswear manufacturers. In 1942, the association, known then as the Men’s Wear Manufacturers of Los Angeles, produced its first show, the Roundup, in Palm Springs. In that same year, the association also began producing market weeks in Los Angeles. Boyswear was officially added to the shows in 1946. In 1948, the association incorporated and officially became the Men’s Apparel Guild in California. In 1970, the fall/winter markets were moved to San Diego while the spring/summer markets remained in Palm Springs. Beginning in 1975, both markets were held in San Diego. MAGIC moved to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1979. The growth of MAGIC mirrored that of the California apparel market and in that same year, MAGIC opened its doors to manufacturers worldwide, eliminating a membership requirement. Due to enormous growth, the show relocated from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 1989. MAGIC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Advanstar Communications, Inc."

Being that in the fashion business tastes change and they are never permanent. Could you tell us what is permanent in your show biz?

What is permanent about our industry is change. That is why there is a need for a trade event, like ours, in this industry. Just as the end consumers, buyers want to touch, see and feel the fabrics and fashions that they are buying. Additionally, the need for new product is a constant in our industry. Because tastes and trends change, there will always be a need for new merchandise. Customers expect this and buyers cannot merely depend on regional shows and sales rep visits to keep their shelves stocked with the best offerings from designers. Buyers need a convenient location where they can get an overview of the entire market in just a few days, and find new product. The MAGIC Marketplace provides gives them more than 4,000 exhibitors twice each year.

Can you explain how different are the individual shows: MAGIC, WWDMAGIC, MAGIC kids and Sourcing at MAGIC?

"Each of these shows serves a different market. As a whole, the MAGIC Marketplace delivers retail buyers from around the world, representing the largest gathering of buying power in the U.S. MAGIC is the largest, most comprehensive men’s apparel and accessory trade event in the U.S. MAGIC exhibitors represent every major category in the men’s apparel industry—designer, premium contemporary, casual, street-wear, active sporting wear, accessories, and young men’s— offering MAGIC buyers an all-encompassing shopping experience. Over the years, MAGIC has evolved into the dominant buying event in the men’s apparel industry. WWDMAGIC is the largest, most comprehensive women’s apparel and accessory trade event in the U.S. The show is produced in conjunction with Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion authority for the women’s industry. WWDMAGIC serves the following markets: Contemporary, Young Contemporary, Junior, Junior Accessories, Casual Lifestyle, Women's Sportswear & Dresses, Swim, and Accessories. MAGIC kids and children’s offerings throughout the MAGIC Marketplace represent the largest and most diverse selection of apparel, accessories, footwear and gifts for the children-wear industry. Our audience of mass, chain, department and specialty retailers, are the buyers and key decision-makers representing the largest buying power in the children's industry. Sourcing at MAGIC provides a complete sourcing and supply-chain venue for the international apparel industry to locate resources and gain valuable insight in the latest industry news. Offering more than 700 companies from 30 countries, Sourcing at MAGIC is the largest apparel sourcing & fabric show in North America connecting branded apparel and fabric wholesalers, designers and product development teams to the largest selection of global contract manufacturers, original design manufacturers, fabric and trim suppliers and service companies. Sourcing at MAGIC also offers comprehensive educational seminars and workshops presented by the world’s most influential industry leaders, as well as offer a match making service which connects buyers and sellers makes finding the right resources faster and easier.Each show is merchandised into lifestyle categories to help buyers locate the product they desire and assist them in discovering new product. Still, the strength of this event is in the whole of the marketplace."

How do you innovate all time when you come up with a new show or what goes in to making a show of MAGIC, a success?

"It’s imperative that trade shows remain relevant to their market. If your customers change the way they do business your show needs to reflect that. Customer focus and communication is imperative. We talk to our customers, stay current in the market, and understand their business. We create and cater the show to serve the buyers. We are a retail show."

Las Vegas seems to be your favorite venue for staging most of your shows? Any particular event as industry shifts down South East?

"Both of our MAGIC Marketplace events take place in Las Vegas. Our event currently attracts more than 112,000 people from 80 countries. Our marketplace is global. Additionally, our attendees like Las Vegas. This city is the only city that can accommodate 112,000 people in the most efficient manner – close proximity of hotel rooms to convention center. Still, we are always open to new opportunities."

How are the logistics of the show managed?

MAGIC employs an experienced team of operations, sales, marketing, and sponsorship staff that works diligently year round to produce the show. We also partner with a team of vendors including official service contractors, a registration team, and travel agents that help us produce the MAGIC Marketplace.

What according to you is the most striking feature or features of your shows that draws crowds, year after year?

"The most striking feature of our show is the comprehensive nature of the show floor. No other show gives attendees an overview of the entire market in just four days. It’s because of this that our attendees represent the largest buying power anywhere. With more than 4,000 exhibitors, buyers can truly get an overview of the market – not what’s on the runway, but what real people will be wearing and buying next season. Additionally, our fashion shows attract crowds throughout the day. These professionally produced runway shows give buyers a great overview of the trends. These catwalk shows produced for the men’s, women’s and children’s markets are always standing room only events. Additionally, MAGIC produces a great seminar series for general attendees and a special series for our sourcing attendees. These seminars feature the industry’s top experts and are often packed. Previous topics have included: Retail 101: How to Open and Run a Retail Store; Global Youth Culture Street Trends; Licensing Trends; and Sourcing 101 – How and Where do you Begin to Find Reliable Offshore Sources? MAGIC is where large licensing deals are made, networking is done, and where brands are advanstar-magic-onlineed. Of course, our events in the evening are quite popular as well. Our opening night event regularly draws 2,000 guests and feature great headline acts like Seal, Duran Duran, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Maroon 5. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s charities over the last several years."

Do you see any trends emerging in the show industry?

specialization is something that we’ve noticed. The fashion tradeshow industry has seen a number of advanstar-magic-onlinees in recent history. These shows, unable to compete against a comprehensive marketplace like MAGIC have chosen to focus on a single market. These shows, besides creating an even busier schedule for the time-challenged buyer, don’t serve all of their needs. MAGIC has addressed buyers’ requests for increased resources in certain markets by introducing special environments on the show floor. These environments attract some of the best collections in these areas and improve the overall offerings of the MAGIC Marketplace.
Published on: 07/08/2006

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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