Music-inspired brand T.U.K. always features the latest in punk, rockabilly, rock, goth footwear in Street section of MAGIC. This is from their Starlet series.

Photos by Tom Wallace

Coming to the end of fashion trade show season is the big kahuna, MAGIC, and its corresponding S.L.A.T.E. and Street sections that feature a wide range of action sports-inspired brands, urban, sportswear, street contemporary, and straight-up Edge (a.k.a. punk-Goth inspired). In its new location at the Mandalay Bay, February 16-18, and on the same schedule and same location right upstairs from Project and Workroom, it was a convenient change from the Las Vegas Convention Center and staggered dates, which still housed the WWD show, and the new FN platform for footwear, and Pool.

Like many other trade shows in 2010 that have changed dramatically, MAGIC and its subcultures had to do the same. Smaller, tighter, but more convenient, and possibly more business-oriented, it all seemed to work, at least from the point of view of most exhibitors (the ones that remained) and buyers that we talked to. As the fashion industry continues to move in niche directions trending-wise, so too have trade shows, spiraling off little sub-units such as Workroom next to Project (but still owned by Advanstar) and as a way to deal with fierce competition such as Capsule at the Venetian which too, offers a place for streetwear and street contemporary or designerwear and footwear, which successfully snagged former S.L.A.T.E. and street brands such as Mishka, The Hundreds, Freshjive, and Creative Recreation (story posting soon). There’s also the competition of several shows preceding MAGIC including ASR/Class/Crossroads in San Diego, Agenda in Huntington Beach, ENK International in New York, and Bread & Butter Berlin. Add in the cramped fashion week calendar and shorter selling season, scheduling a show within a timeframe and location that capitalized on convenience for the retailers, took precedence.

This look is a good indication of the move upscale for streetwear brands today–many of which no longer want to be called “streetwear”.

The Mandalay Bay also hosted the “Premium” men’s show of MAGIC as well, but with our focus on progressive, upper street, and youth cultures, our main tendencies run towards covering S.L.A.T.E. with brands like 10 Deep, Married to the Mob (MOB), Obey, Cardboard Robot, Akademiks, Akomplice, Crooks and Castles, Hot Air; and Street featuring Lip Service, T.U.K., Tripp NYC, Dickies, and an odd and growing assortment of mixed martial arts (MMA) brands such as Affliction and TapOut, and urban brands such as Artful Dodger and Rocawear.

S.L.A.T.E. is also always a hotspot for the people it attracts who tend to live a metropolitan lifestyle, but come from a broad range of diverse cities. For example, it’s one of the few places where you’ll see fixies with their cycle-inspired gear and messenger bags from San Francisco; downtown LA emo flapjacks with high-end skate kicks, skinny-leg emo denim, lumberyard flannel or big knits circa Pacific Northwest grunge; Brooklynites sporting expensive “heritage” boots, designer headphones, heritage/Americana/prep top and selvedged denim; NYC Goths and steampunk Sherlock Holmes, or retro-inspired hipsters with interesting hair and heavily riveted and destroyed denim; and Tokyo upper urbanites in the same styles as all of those previously mentioned, tastefully mixed together, and topped with some sort of trendsetting new accessory (often an electronic device) that will be hitting North America next year.

Doing business at S.L.A.T.E.

Similar to years in the past, S.L.A.T.E. featured 10 Deep, often considered the originator of streetwear, in a prime position up front, which saw heavy traffic every single day. But so too did smaller brands including some action sports inspired brands such as True Love False Idols, and a crossover brand such as Akomplice which demonstrated a unique way to showcase their collection to buyers. One of the greatest differences throughout most brands’ collections however was the shift in streetwear from street or urban to more contemporary, upscale, heritage mixed with prep. You could see this across the board. It’s no longer lumberjack flannel, but fitted flannel or mixed fabrics of plaids and striped button-downs.

Even in Street, where Goth, punk, and music-inspired brands reside, upscale Victorian steampunk (think Robert Downey, Jr. in “Sherlock Holmes”) was having a strong resurgence. Unlike the upscale plaids, tartans, and denim in S.L.A.T.E., in Street (or the Edge area of Street) you had a mix of Premium pin-stripes with a Goth twist, the usage of vests, military inspired sweeping overcoats, corsets, emo tight pants, pin-striped tutus, and yes, tartans but in a punk, Vivienne Westwood sense of the style. We always think it’s a little odd that such brands like Lip Service, Tripp NYC, and T.U.K., Punk Rose which, let’s face it, rock some of the most leading-edge styles, footwear, and accessories in fashion is even in a section called Street, which is probably why everyone still calls it the Edge (those of us who remember this name for such a genre) and why the trade show London Edge kept coming up as the “other” show most of these brands showcase in.

Lip Service is one of the larger brands in Street (a.k.a the Edge section), featuring the latest apparel and accessories that will be gobbled up by Hot Topic. Key themes were steampunk and an amazing “Alice” dress. This is Maria Santilena, the new VP of sales, and her colleague in front of their booth. Lip Service%uFFFDs 25th Anniversary is this year Stay tuned for a longer interview coming soon.

Other highlights of the shows included the Seventh Letter Presents “Freedom” installation featuring amazing artwork of renowned street artists, Frank’s Chop Shop (it’s almost a pre-requisite now to have an on-site barber shop or hair stylist), various DJ lounges, and a happening bar in the middle of the show floor.

Overall, while retailers are obviously cautious, which makes brands nervous, the smaller show in a new location worked well. It’s just that changes in street and fashion in general mean that trade shows will continue to have to be as flexible as possible to accommodate a new, different kind of mentality in fashion itself.

Artwork from the Seventh Letter installation at S.L.A.T.E. called “Freedom.”

Reception to the entrance of S.L.A.T.E. inside MAGIC.

Akomplice, a streetwear brand out of Carbondale, CO, comes with a snowboarding angle to their collection, including outerwear. They had an interesting new way to showcase their line to buyers.

Backside of the Obey booth featuring Shepard Fairey%uFFFDs artwork.

The DJ station at S.L.A.T.E. was packed all day everyday featuring top artists.

Designer headphones are a must accessory. There were more headphone brands this time at MAGIC than ever before. What may have started from Skullcandy (this is their lounge) and WESC, has now taken off in streetwear and upper urban.

True Love False Idols has a seriously cool logo, but in this T-shirt graphic, 70s ladies and deer are among new themes. Artwork is done by Alex 2Tone.

More from T.U.K., the London-vibe X California brand with featured artist shoes by Jeremiah Aker, and their HotRod Hellcat red boot which was a hot item at the show. (Interesting to note is that they were given the choice of continuing to exhibit in Street (Edge section) or the new FN Platform over in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and chose to stay in Street (near Tripp NYC, and others).

Lip Service%uFFFDs steampunk-esque collection for men was also popular at the show. This brand tends to attract many bands, including 30 Seconds to Mars. Their Kill City collection, including denim, a relatively new line, was at Project. Stay tuned for the Project review.