Las Vegas has a more robust market for fashion models than most people realize. Between the daily shows at the Fashion Show Mall, regularly-occurring trunk shows in the major retail outlets and frequent independent shows by designers, charity organizations and the Fashion Design Council there is a great deal of fashion activity in the city. The trunk shows and Fashion Show Mall shows provide paid jobs for models, but many of the rest are unpaid. It is for that reason that few (no more than about four, if even that) agencies in Las Vegas have a substantial number of “fashion models” on their rosters.
There has long been a peak in demand for fashion models around the time that the MAGIC fashion tradeshow comes to town, twice a year. Although not all the models hired for that show are traditional “fashion model” types, many are. Still, the demand for fashion-qualified models to support MAGIC has never seriously strained the Las Vegas supply. It is a welcome addition to the modeling marketplace in Las Vegas, but that’s all it is.
Where MAGIC becomes the elephant in the room is in something different. Thousands of fashion buyers from around the world attend MAGIC. It is, by far, the largest opportunity to market clothes that the city ever sees. So it’s not surprising that fashion-related organizations and designers have attempted to take advantage of the promise all those thousands of buyers offer. Fashion Week Las Vegas has for years deliberately scheduled its fashion shows to coincide with MAGIC, promising access to those buyers. MAGIC is scheduled for February 16-18, 2016. Fashion Week Las Vegas Season 8 is scheduled for February 15-19, 2016.
A new organization, Vegas Cut and Sew, is planning “fashion events” for selected designers on February 18-21, 2016. Although their announced purpose is largely built around educational and mentoring opportunities for emerging designers, several of the designers they have selected for their events are past the point of sitting in on educational seminars to tell them how to do what they are already successful at doing. Although Vegas Cut and Sew has not explicitly used the words “fashion shows” in their announcements, clearly that is exactly what they plan, at least in substantial part.
There have also been preliminary indications, if not yet an announcement, that another Las Vegas-based organization is planning on holding fashion shows, intending to attract MAGIC buyers, February 18th and 19th.
There has always been a certain quality of wishful thinking about all those thousands of clothing buyers that MAGIC brings to Las Vegas twice a year. Much, even most, of the clothing presented at the trade show is not “fashion” in the sense that runway fashion shows are typically designed for (or that the designers who appear at Fashion Week Las Vegas or Vegas Cut and Sew produce). That means that most of the buyers are not in a market for such “fashion” clothing. And there is no known history of a significant percentage of those buyers actually showing up at fashion shows in the evenings that MAGIC was in session.
Still, those twice-annual weeks that MAGIC comes to town are no worse, and probably are better, than any other time to try to have outside events to market “fashion”, so we see that choice consistently made.
Now, what does that mean to fashion models in Las Vegas?
Fashion Week Las Vegas has never paid its models, relying on volunteers and the promise that some of the models would be offered contracts with Envy Model Management based on their performance in the shows. Vegas Cut and Sew has announced an unspecified partnership with a Las Vegas modeling agency (to be announced), but it’s not clear what the role of that agency would be. What is known of the Vegas Cut and Sew business model suggests they aren’t going to be paying their models either. That suggests that they likely will have to also rely on ”volunteers”, not agency-supplied fashion models.
The other organization is rumored to be considering paying models for their shows in February, but it remains to be seen if that will turn out to be possible.
What all of this seems to mean is that either (a) the demand for qualified fashion models willing to work for free in Las Vegas will considerably exceed supply during the third week in February, 2016, or (b) that many of the models in the shows that week will be something other than “fashion standard” models. Or both.
Show producers, models and designers should plan accordingly.