Transparency surrounding sustainability in the fashion industry continues to be a top priority and theme at the MAGIC Trade Show, which recently took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from August 8-10 and was put on by Informa Markets Fashion. The team behind the MAGIC Trade Show – including co-located events, PROJECT Las Vegas, and SOURCING at MAGIC – brought forth show executives, industry leaders, exhibitors, educators, and brands that are all walking the talk and practicing what they preach.
Vice President of the International and Men’s divisions at Informa Markets Fashion, Edwina Kulego shared, “We as a trade show have a responsibility. It’s all about transparency and highlighting the brands who are really doing the work. And we as a team need to do the work, too. We meet frequently, asking ourselves if we need to travel to every show even. We’re using more QR codes and digital throughout instead of paper. Truly in every aspect, we are being honest about where we are failing and being transparent as possible to encourage and inspire our community so we can all do better.”
With the show itself looking for the clearest way to understand which of its exhibitors are truly sustainable, the team partnered with Dr. Cindy Lin, CEO and Co-Founder of Hey Social Good, who explained, “We’re a social impact analytics company. We assess, guide, and verify businesses on their sustainability journey through data, really focusing on the impact footprint.” She added, “A lot of people say they are sustainable – sustainability really should be a holistic approach, and that’s why we look at everything, by looking at the accumulation of good practices and creating a structure to empower businesses to do more or better.”
The year’s PROJECT hall featured the beautiful introduction of the very first Ad Infinitum. This intentionally-curated, circular fashion showcase featured fashion-forward brands doing incredible work, including Vegan Tiger, Veganologie, Jack & Jones, Marita Moreno, Sylven New York, YY Nation, Nous Etudions, Sentient, Sneaker Labs, and SO.TY.
Kulego shared that the intention of this area is to remain small and sustainable at every Las Vegas show from here on out, highlighting a different group of brands each time. She continued, “As a community, we’re all constantly learning from each other and having a dialogue, working together for our common goals. Sustainability is not a trend—it’s ever-evolving and ever-growing. This is the first year this area has launched, and it’s been received so well by everyone asking how they can get involved.”
Casey Dworkin with Sylven New York, a featured brand in the Ad Infinitum, said, “It’s my first time doing PROJECT with my own brand, and it’s incredible. I have been running a sustainable shoe brand for five years and to finally see a company with the impact that PROJECT has to be shining a spotlight on sustainability – and to have a collective of brands that are all working towards a common goal really be featured in this – is such a step forward for sustainability and brands everywhere.” Dworkin noted, “We have a massive focus on material innovation—we started originally working with vegetable tanned leathers and transitioned our company to be fully vegan and plant-based as these new materials came out, so we were one of the first shoe brands in the whole US to be working with a material called apple leather. And it’s still one of our “hero materials.” We are looking to reinvent how luxury footwear gets made from the inside out.”
Emmanuelle Rienda, Founder of Vegan Fashion Week – which started in 2018 in Los Angeles – shared how much she loves Kulego’s work and wanted to partner together to create this innovative platform to really showcase the variety of plant-based materials and products that encompass critical values: the animals, the workers in the industry, and the environment. Rienda said, “Plant-based materials are both something designers and retailers are trying to push – innovators are coming up with better and better alternatives like cactus leather, plant leather, mulberry leaves, and grape leather.”
Over in the SOURCING hall at MAGIC, attendees were able to view the sustainability gallery, featuring exhibitors who have all passed the Hey Good Social verification processl, not only for how they operate their business, but also for how they produce their products. Vice President of SOURCING at MAGIC, Andreu David, shared “It gives a lot of the buyers peace of mind knowing the brands have been vetted in this way.” David also noted that the show had 26 countries participating and exhibiting on the floor, with a highlighted “Made in the USA” gallery section as well. “What’s exciting for me to see is there’s a lot of movement in technology when it comes to development in sustainable ways: 3D renderings to reduce your sampling, traceability platforms so you know where the fibers come from, all the way to the end product and also, as well, reducing waste. Just being digital reduces waste. All our goals should be to reduce the amount of waste produced and consumed that ends up in a landfill.”
A major feature at SOURCING is the HYBRID section, with these exhibitors participating in the show without physically being present on the floor, including apparel, accessories, and footwear brands from all over the world. “The samples are here, but the teams are not physically present,” said David, who also emphasized how the last two years proved to us all that we don’t need to be in person to do business. “This section allows for buyers to connect with the brands online via digital profiles. They get to learn about the brands, message them or connect to schedule virtual meetings, ask about sampling, and overall reduce the carbon footprint without travel.” While this is a newer concept introduced fall 2021, the show went from 12 to almost 60 exhibitors in less than one year.