LAS VEGAS -- An emerald-green, sleeveless knee-length dress hangs from a dress form inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. Next to it, a royal blue number hangs, beckoning passers-by to look.
Melanie Hunley and Jackie King founded Liberate Apparel two years ago. The line is composed of jewelry made in Haiti from recycled materials, and clothing made in the U.S. A portion of the proceeds from clothing sales go to help women in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
"We are inspired by a vintage and classy yet comfortable look," King said. "We wanted something that would look good to wear, but that would also be comfortable running around in our day-to-day lives."
Liberate is targeted to women in their late 20s and early 30s.
The fashion line is one of hundreds of exhibitors at the WWDMAGIC show in Las Vegas through today, bringing about 80,000 people to the valley. The show, commonly called MAGIC, has an estimated nongaming economic impact of $101.8 million, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The show attracts fashion designers, retail buyers, trend spotters, sourcing companies and media.
"We appreciate MAGIC's long-standing commitment to Las Vegas, which dates back to 1989," said Chris Meyer, vice president of sales for the convention authority. "As one of our largest shows, MAGIC has generated nearly $5 billion for the local economy over the years, and each show supports close to a thousand jobs. MAGIC has committed to holding their two annual shows in Las Vegas until 2015, which means hundreds of millions of dollars more for our community in the coming years, so we're clearly excited every February and August to welcome them back."
Average sales on the show floor for each day of MAGIC total $200 million.
Three-year-old Union of Angels is a women's clothing line designed by Cindy Bapst that has a little Western flair.
"It's been really busy. We are the busiest at MAGIC," said Stefanie Ball, co-owner of Union of Angels. "Coming to trade shows really helps."
Since Tuesday, the brand has secured 20 new accounts at MAGIC. And in the past year, the company has seen sales increase 4 percent. Ball said the line appeals to customers primarily in the South and Southwest. Recently, Union of Angels dressed Kristin Chenoweth for the October issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine.
Even though business at the show is steady, Ball said buyers seem to be less willing to shop this year.
"They're purchasing, but they're purchasing in less quantities," she said.
And instead of primarily purchasing for fall as is the norm, Ball said many buyers are purchasing spring immediates, which can be sold in a quick turnaround.
MAGIC, open to industry only, comes to Las Vegas twice a year, along with a handful of other fashion shows. In November 2012, Advanstar Global LLC, which owns MAGIC, acquired ENK International LLC. The latter produced the 5-year-old ENKVegas show, which is now under Advanstar's banner for the first time this week.
Tiffany Breckenridge is a fashion industry veteran who formerly worked for Levi's and Old Navy. After having a baby, she created YogaGlyphs, a lifestyle brand designed for women to wear in the yoga studio and after their workouts.
"We felt that there was a need in the marketplace to provide women with fashionable tops that were fun and comfortable," Breckenridge said.
Her year-old line includes long-sleeved, striped shirts with printed graphics, and short-sleeved sweatshirts that can be worn in spring or fall.
Beside the expansive show floor, which features thousands of women's wear, menswear, accessories and footwear designers, MAGIC features seminars and sourcing resources. Inside Sourcing at MAGIC, 40 countries are showing more than 1,100 apparel, accessories and footwear resources. Participating countries include Ethiopia, Fiji, Haiti, North Korea, Mauritius, Nepal and Sweden.
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