Monday, December 31, 2012

How internet shopping killed the trend | The Australian

I agree with this article in The Australian.  We are post-everthing else, so why not post-trend in fashion?

How internet shopping killed the trend | The Australian.

I was at a Fall/Winter 13-14 and Spring/Summer 14 trend seminar a few months back.  The seminar reflected exactly what is said in the article.  I kept hearing that the trend will be “this” as well as “that” which seem across the spectrum.  Summer fabrics in winter, winter colors in summer, tailored pieces here, clunky oversize sweaters there – it was all over the place.  We have seen this freedom for a while with accessories like shoes and jewelry.

I love it.  The sensibility reminds me of the punk and post-punk fashions of the late 70′s and early 80′s when anything went.  People were freed of what was “the fashion”.  We made our own until they became “the fashion” and the whole thing was assimilated.

Maybe the independent universal connectivity of the internet and social media will keep freshening the new ideas to stay ahead of the Fashion Borgs.  I hope so.

What do you think?

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com

Friday, November 16, 2012

Abbot Kinney Attracts National Brands – Fashion Retailing News | California Apparel News | LA Fashion

I completely agree with this article from Apparel News regarding the changing vibe on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA.  It fact, I was going to write a blog this weekend about the same subject.

Abbot Kinney Attracts National Brands – Fashion Retailing News | California Apparel News | LA Fashion.

I was on the street just Wednesday with my bestie and fab fashionista, Tracy Engelien of Boxie.  We were doing our seasonal scouting of stores in the hip fashion areas of Los Angeles.  Each season, we cruise through Venice, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood and the east Sunset Blvd areas to check out what boutiques and specialty stores are stocking.

In the article, they quote Barbara Phillips of Minnie T’s (Barbara was a customer of mine when I sold Wildlife Works) as saying, “It has totally turned into a baby Third Street Promenade.”  Tracy said almost the same thing word for word on Wednesday!

I started visiting Minnie T’s about 11 years ago.  The changes to the street are marked.  However, I think Abbot Kinney will retain a good amount of it’s character simply because of it’s history, locale, architecture and proximity to the pricey hipster residential area.  Let’s hope so.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week Spring 2013, October 15-18, 2012 – A Few Surprises

Hopefully you read my blog on the first day of Los Angeles Fashion Market Week for Spring 2013 last Monday.  If so, you'll know that my skepticism on what is supposed to be an improving fashion retail sector was relieved slightly by the strong foot traffic, brisk business and order writing that greeted me, especially at the Designers and Agents show.  I hoped that the activity and optimism would hold for the rest of the week.  It did.

The feedback from the many showrooms I visited last Tuesday and Wednesday was that most were very happy with the week's business.  I think the contemporary floors of the California Market Center were a little quiet but certainly there was plenty of activity in the New Mart and the Cooper building.

I dropped by the Sunrise Brands Showroom on the corner of Los Angeles and 9th that houses Dylan George and Superdry (you can't miss it - it's has the massive Superdry logos on the windows).  The SYDNY Showroom was using the space for market.  The Australian brand specialists were having a good show.

I was interested to follow up on the relatively new accessories, lifestyle and gift show Coeur, on the 11th floor of the Cooper Building.  This was only the third show for Coeur – their first was the Spring/Summer showcase at last October’s Market Week.  They do two LA shows a year – Spring/Summer in October and Fall/Winter in March.

In March, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Coeur, Henri Myers told me, “We are creating something different for the fashion retailer. We are looking to provide a diversity of options.”

The 11th floor of the Cooper is a large, bright, naturally lit white space – perfect for a trade show.  The show was smaller this time around.  I didn't get a chance to speak with any of the organizers to confirm if this was as expected or if there had been a drop off from this time last year.

I want make special mention of some socially conscious and sustainable collections that showed at Coeur that are benefiting important social programs around the world:
  • 31 Bits is a jewelry collection using fashion and design to empower Ugandan women to rise above poverty.  They buy jewelry handmade by the women using 100% recycled paper and other local materials.  They are committed to working with each woman until she has graduated from their program and attained a sustainable means of income within her own community.  They also work with the community on English lessons, support groups, finance and vocational training and HIV/AIDS and health education.  This is an awesome cause.  The product is excellent.  I urge you to check out the website - www.31bits.com.  For wholesale orders, contact Meredith Hazan at Maritime Showroom in LA or Jackie Gilles at the social and ecological brand-focused Forge Showroom in Austin, TX.

  • Forge was also showing FEED.  FEED designs and sells bags, tees and accessories to fund programs to provide school meals to children around the world. Some of the products are made and/or embellished by people in the local areas such as Guatemala and Kenya.  Since 2006, FEED has been able to raise enough money through the sale of products to provide over 60 million school meals to children around the world through hte World Food Program.  FEED has also partnered with the US Fund for UNICEF, raising much-needed funds for their Vitamin A and micronutrient supplements program and providing over 46,000 children with essential nutrients.

  • Forge also represents the socially responsible brand, Raven + Lily.  Raven + Lily is handmade eco-friendly jewelry and accessories by marginalized and HIV-positive women from North India and Ethiopia. The pieces are made from local up-cycled and recycled local materials such as handmade beads and charms from melted bullet casings and vintage silver coins, recycled cotton papers, woods and hand-milled natural soaps.
It is particularly gratifying for me to see the continued rise of socially responsible and sustainable brands in the market.  I started in the US apparel market in 2000 working for the grounding breaking environmental and wildlife conservation company, Wildlife Works.  We were well ahead of our time using organic fabrics and low impact processes.  As National Sales Manager, I was privileged to go to work every day knowing that every sale we made benefited people, animals and the environment in Kenya that needed help so desperately.

Consumer awareness is catching up to the dreams and aspirations of eco-entrepreneurs like Mike Korchinsky, the CEO & Founder of Wildlife Works and those true believers who created companies like 31 Bits, FEED and Raven + Lily.  Please support these companies whenever possible.  As Jackie Gilles of Forge Showroom just said to me, the product still has to be good.  I think you'll find that the style and quality of most of the socially conscious and sustainable products out there are at least as good as their less enlightened competitors.

The National Retail Federation has recently predicted a 4% increase in holiday sales for this year over last year, and reported a surge in consumer spending during September.  I want to believe that we are actually slowly pulling out of this never ending economic gloom.  I'm not sure how much the election result in 2 weeks has already been factored into the market.  I am going to have to stay with what I have felt for a while now; that despite bright spots like last week's market activity, I'll believe it when I see it and feel it.

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com

RELATED ARTICLES

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week Spring ’13, Designers and Agents Trade Show

It was fingers crossed as I headed to the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District for Day 1 of the all important Spring ’13 Market Week.  I haven’t been as convinced as others that the fashion retail sector is seeing better days.  The last thing the local industry needs right now is a soft Market Week.

What is Market Week? It is when the seasonal business of fashion happens in the wholesale showrooms and trade shows of the main wholesale centers: the California Market Center, the New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, and other venues in the Fashion District.

Five times a year, US and international wholesale buyers roam the showrooms and booth shows determined to stay within their budget as they buy what’s hot, pass on what’s not, and perhaps gamble on some possibilities.  Most buyers who want to stay in business know what works for their customer, and what to gamble on to freshen up their floors.

So it was fantastic to see the week get off to a flying start today with strong buyer traffic and a genuine buzz in the air.  A couple of industry veterans I spoke with said they hadn’t felt such a positive vibe in a long time.  I’ll be at market every day visiting all the showroom buildings and booth shows, and reporting back that that the optimism flowed through the week – hopefully.

Four times a year, on the usually vacant third floor of the New Mart, you’ll find the Designers and Agents showcase.

Known in shorthand as “d&a”, it describes itself as “an independent, international trade fair for collections and retailers who define the cutting edge in fashion and life style. Identifying emerging talent and creating an intimate, synergistic environment that fosters relationships between designers and buyers, each of D&A’s shows in Los Angeles and New York (which typically attract 3,000 retail and media visitors) are pre-edited, art-directed, and merchandised to create a sense of camaraderie and discovery.” All of which means, it sells itself as a hip and happening place to buy and sell … and I would have to agree.

This week the 3rd floor is full. There are over 100 booths and 130 brands with the usual eclectic mix of fashion forward men’s and women’s basics, separates and denim, shoes, hats, bags, jewelry and accessories.  Today, there was excellent energy and buyer traffic.  Buyers weren’t just looking.  There was plenty of paper being written.

I was very impressed by the clean, stylish new denim collection, Lorem.  Lorem is the inspiration of LA designer, Lukus Eichmann.  Black and white Japanese denim and US indigo denim is set off by Italian hardware, tape piping, and style innovations such as “shadow pockets” two-tone pockets inside pockets and 9″ zippers that allow you to adjust the leg from bootcut to straight leg. The denim jacket with leather half sleeve can also be seen in the photo on the right.

Other collections that caught my eye were:
The gypsy, hippie, bo-ho look is still going strong.  I liked what Star Mela is doing with their looks.

Beading is everywhere, particularly the use of micro beading on bracelets, earrings and belts.  Some of it is running at high price point, well above what the article appears to be worth.  I was assured that the price point is supported by the work involved.

All in all, it was a very positive start to the week.  Could we really actually be seeing some real actual improvement in the retail sector?  I think I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for now.

More tomorrow …

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Las Vegas Spring13 Fashion Trade Shows Day 4, August 23, 2012

Please check out my Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 blogs.

The rain petered out overnight and Day 4 of the trade shows was back to hot, sunny Vegas.  I needed to hit the road by 4pm at the latest to make sure I was in front of the massive convoy traffic heading back to LA once the shows finished at 5pm.

I spent the day at the Venetian Hotel covering the MRket menswear show and the CurveNV swim, lingerie and men’s underwear show.

MRket
MRket is a showcase of contemporary, traditional and better men’s ready-to-wear clothing, sportswear, footwear, accessories and outerwear from the US and overseas.  MRket is the property of Business Journals Inc. that also puts on the Moda and Accessories shows in the same massive space at the Sands Convention Center.

It is an extensive show that includes an emerging designer section branded Vanguards Gallery, and an Italian designer section.

There are a number of brands that I like to check out each time – New Zealand’s Rodd & Gunn and French Laundry among them.

Rod Williams, the EVP North America for New Zealand’s Rodd & Gunn told me that they had another great show.  Rodd & Gunn’s soft launch in the US for Spring12 opened 20 doors “without trying”, in Rod’s words.  The full launch for Fall12 yielded another 70-80 retailers including 3 in Japan and 6 in Canada.  They expect to add another 50-60 stores by the time Spring/Summer13 has finished selling.  Their knitwear has been their best seller.  Linens are doing well, along with tissue weights and seersucker.  I noticed R&G are doing contrast colors and prints on the inside cuffs and sleeves to give an interesting sleeve roll-up look.  This was popular with many brands.

English Laundry are rocking awesome jackets in the smaller 28″ shrunken look.  The shiny paisley jacket in viscose and rayon really stood out.  Solids were also popular.  The silhouette being the most important aspect.  They have also brought back the double breasted.

It seemed to me that the metrosexual look is filtering over into traditional men’s.  Lots of preppy and country stripes and checks in shirts and blazers, the fit is slimmer across the board, slim knee length shorts and capris, denim and chinos, with lots of color in soft brights and neutrals.

Things continue to look up and look good for menswear.

CurveNV
The CurveNV show continues to grow in size and reputation.

Attendance held about steady compared with last August with the good news being the show reported 30 percent new buyers from not only the United States, but Argentina, Australia, Canada, Caribbean nations and Japan.

CURVExpo runs the designer lingerie and swimwear shows in New York and Las Vegas. CurveNV includes swimwear, lingerie, underwear, sleepwear and activewear. Women’s and men’s brands are represented.

With the increasing interest that I have been getting from Australian swimwear collections wanting to launch in the US, I wanted to compare CurveNV with the ISAM swimwear show that is part of WWD MAGIC.

I bumped straight into the successful Australian swimwear brand, Seafolly.  Many other big names were there – DKNY, Michael Kors, Betsey Johnson, Juicy Couture – to name a few.

The buyer traffic was slow on the last day.

My time was up.  The tremendous energy and activity of the Vegas fashion trade shows quickly dissipates on the last afternoon.  However, all that energy and activity leaves the impression that the industry is in good shape and leaving the very difficult last 4 years behind.

As I said at the beginning my Day 2 blog, I wanted to come away from Vegas with the confidence that the industry is really, finally on a sustainable upward trajectory towards recovery.  It didn’t happen.  I had been upbeat about the industry’s prospects after the last 2 Vegas fashion weeks to no avail.  This time, I left certain that we won’t see any significant upturn at least until after the November elections.  The economy will continue to chug, and so will the wholesale and retail sections.

However, with the right (or left) result in November, things will be very different when we are back in Vegas in February.

I know what’s going to happen.  Do you?

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Las Vegas Spring13 Fashion Trade Shows Day 3, August 22, 2012

Please check out my Day 1 & Day 2 blogs.

Day 3
I woke to an unusual sound outside the hotel window.  It was raining.  No, not raining, pouring.  It was the first time I had been in Las Vegas when it had been raining anywhere near this hard.  It didn’t take long to realize that Vegas is not built for the wet.

The concrete walkways around and between the hotels are not level.  Water was pooling everywhere and making things dangerously slippery.  A forest of yellow caution signs had sprouted with the rain.  The entire city leaks.  There were buckets in some of the casinos collecting water dripping from the ceiling, all the escalators had been shut down (and that meant using slick stairs), and even the monorail cars leaked; as I found out when I looked up to see water escaping from a light fixture above my head.

To give you an idea of how much is was raining, here is a clip I took from the Harrah’s Casino monorail station – Harrah’s Casino Carpark River.  People were hanging over the railings amazed as this torrent rushed out of the carpark.  It would washed away anyone in it’s path.  No cars were hurt in the making of this video.

With umbrellas in the car, Tracy and I ended up soaked as we ran to the car to head off to the Women’s Wear in Nevada (WWIN) show at the Rio.

I didn’t even think that the rain would keep the buyers away from the trade shows.  Not unless they were looking for an excuse.

WWIN
WWIN caters to womenswear buyers looking for traditional, missy, petite, plus size and tall options for the 35+ demographic.  There are hundreds of accessory lines covering shoes to hats, purses, jewelry, belts and scarves.  I sourced an excellent accessories supplier for Z Fabrique that was doing the same contemporary woven bracelets that I saw at Project for a 10th of the price.

WWIN is huge and takes up most of the convention room space at the Rio.  I’m not sure how long it has been around but the last time I was there was 10+ years ago, and it had been going for a long time before that.  In fact, it hadn’t changed a bit.

Some familiar names like Mod-O-Doc and Fresh Produce were there.  Our main interest in going was to meet a highly regarded sales agent with a potential client in mind, and for future trade show referral purposes.

There was an incredible amount of product on show, and a steady flow of buyers.  If you have a collection to sell or you are a buyer in this segment of the market, I’d highly recommend you check out the show.

Tracy’s time was up.  She had to head back to LA to finalize the end of month shipment for Boxie.  Tracy dropped me off at the Venetian so I could dive into the shows at the Sands Convention Center.

The Sands houses MRket, Moda, AccessoriesTheShow, CurveNV, Capsule (which I forgot only ran Monday and Tuesday), and OffPrice (which I wasn’t interested in).  MRket, Moda and Accessories share a massive convention floor.  The rest have there own rooms.

After a delicious free lunch, I started in on Moda.

Moda
Moda is a contemporary and better women’s ready-to-wear show.  There was nothing here that stood out.  The showrooms that I spoke to were happy with the buyer traffic, and were writing orders.  Why do Moda instead of WWDMAGIC?  I don’t know.  The collections here are nowhere near as edgy as as Project or as hip as ENK.

AccessoriesTheShow
Some of the jewelry at Accessories was interesting but a lot was cheap looking bling.

There was a good selection of scarves available at affordable price points.

I didn’t think much of the hats on offer.  As with other accessories, right now you can pretty much go for it with whatever hat you want.  But nothing here caught my eye.

Before I could get to MRket, I got called over to Project then MAGIC to meet people and take care of clients which took care of the rest of the day.

It was the last day of Project.  I was keen to hear how the day had gone given the rain.  Apparently, it had kept some buyers away.  But most collections were happy with the activity.  Buyers had left paper, and a couple of showrooms reported solid international business.

Foot traffic at WWDMAGIC had also been affected by the rain.

Day 4, MRket and CurveNV.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Las Vegas Spring13 Fashion Trade Shows Day 2, August 21, 2012

I wanted to come away from the Spring13 round of Las Vegas fashion trade shows filled with the unshakeable optimism that the retail and wholesale industries had turned the magical corner and all would be well. I didn’t.

This time last year I thought we might start running downhill into a bumper Holiday season.  It didn’t happen.  The industry associations and think tanks told us sales were up.  But margins were down.  Which you would expect with retailers running sales from early in the season.

After last February’s Vegas week, the same happy-happy-joy-joy sentiments were being floated.  We’ve all seen how the past 4 months have gone.

That being said, we are in the run-up to a general election which always throws the uncertainty spanner into the economic works.  The economy continues to chug, and will continue to do so if you listen to certain people regardless of the extended silly season that accompanies the national plebiscite.  Which means consumers out of work, which means disposable income isn’t so disposable, which means discretionary items like fashion become even more discretionary.

Then again, Vegas was busy on the street and at the tables.  As busy as I have seen it at this time of year.  And as we all know, it isn’t anywhere near as cheap as it was.  Well, it is still tawdry cheap.  There were lots of those dreaded foreigners roaming around looking distinctly Euro.  My favs were the group of 30-something French folks all jumped up on “The Vegas, Baby” Vegas.  One of the guys had grown and dyed his hair and sideburns to a perfect Elvis – it was awesome.  I bumped into a very pleasant chap from Gladstone in Queensland, Australia who was keeping the beer companies flush.  It didn’t feel quite so cashed up at the shows.

Still the trade shows must go on!  And they did.  All 18 of them – if you count the different categories with MAGIC.  Don’t believe me?

At the Mandalay Bay: Slate, Street, Mens/Wear, Project, PoolTradeShow.
At the Las Vegas Convention Center: WWDMAGIC, Platform, Sourcing, ISAM.
At the Venetian: Moda, MRket, AccessoriesTheShow, CurveNV, Capsule, OffPrice, PGA Expo.
At the Wynn: ENK Vegas
At the Rio: WWIN

And I went to all of them except the PGA show and Capsule (which I forgot only runs for 2 days).  And here’s what I saw.

Check out my previous blog for a rundown on ENK Vegas at the Wynn, and the first morning at Project.

PROJECT
Project is where you’ll find the most influential and commercially successful contemporary brands in the marketplace. Anyone who is anyone in the industry will spend a good amount of time here – as I did.

With the trade shows being staggered this time. Project had a busy Monday but a slower Tuesday (the first day of WWDMAGIC).

I walked Project with my good friend and the fab fashionista, Tracy Engelien.  Tracy is a former independent sales agent who now has her own label of cool, colorful and effortlessly stylish basics, Boxie.  Tracy has an excellent eye for trend and direction.  T helps me buy for Z Fabrique‘s 2 stores in Long Beach and San Pedro.

We started in the Workroom section of Project.  Workroom is the most fashion forward section of all the shows. The clothing, accessories and shoe brands are carefully selected, juried, and are always well worth a close look.

I really liked the men’s collections in Workroom.

The Canadian collection, Le Monde Gris impressed with their deconstructed and distressed styles in a trans seasonal palette.

Odyn Vovk (“One Wolf” in Ukrainian) is the inspiration of Austin Sherbanenko.  Odyn Vovk is also on the trans seasonal neutral color palette trend with a sophisticated and edgy look.  Modemonline.com describes Sherbanenko’s creative process as, “The collection is designed without the structured direction that a hard lined story would offer. He has a much more spontaneous approach, that when ideas pop into his head, he follows the ones worth following.”

The colorful prints and fresh updated preppy look of Carlos Campos popped. The men’s and women’s styles have excellent hanger appeal. I’m a sucker for panels and color blocking. Carlos Campos has international distribution including in Zara Bryson in Subiaco, Western Australia – for my hometown readers.

In My Air really caught my eye.  The clean classic bodies in pop colors are given dimension with dip dye treatments, texture and shredding. I liked the drop waist dresses, the textured leather skirt and use of mesh in layering pieces.  The color palette is right on for Spring.

Australia was well represented as usual in Workroom with Elliatt, Lisa Maree, bless’ed are the meek, Flannel, Lilya, Samantha Wills, TIG – This is Genevieve, Wildfox and Ksubi flying the flag.

The hot swimwear collection Lisa Maree has been freshen up the US Spring13 offering from the collection that I saw at Mercedes Fashion Week in Sydney in May. The designer, Lisa Boersma has added more bodies, more treatments such as tassels and the dip dyed crochet looks fantastic.

Other Aussie collections of note were Ladakh with it’s contemporary range of separates in prints and plum, copper, mint and a peachy orange in the palette; LA’s Place Showroom with it’s stable of Down Under brands including Style Stalker, Cameo, Finders Keepers, Insight and Somedays Lovin’; and One Teaspoon.

I always like to check in on what Lauren Moshi is up to.   As Linda Giorganni, the owner of it’s all about the girls showroom, who represents Lauren Moshi, said, “it’s all about the graphics with Lauren”.  Every graphic is hand drawn by Lauren.  I really liked the color palette, especially the awesome bubblegum pink.

So what did I see as trending in Project?
  • belted floral dresses, knee length and above
  • collarless blouses
  • slash neck and wide neck tees
  • denim, denim, denim just goes on and on and on – bright colored denim, distressed denim, printed denim
  • lots of deconstruction and treatments – shredding, washes, dip dying, meshing
  • The 80′s! – black & white checks, stripes, patterns and prints, neons, bleached denim, high tops
  • lots of primary color but softer than in recent seasons mixed with more neutral sophisticated shades in nude, champagne and earth tones of burnt orange, brown, grey and olive. I particularly liked the mint that many designers are highlighting.
  • For men, the color palettes are similar. The updated preppy look with smaller jackets seemed popular. At the same time, the hipster distressed look continues.
  • As for shoes, the “anything goes” look has carried over.
  • When it comes to jewelry, just go for it. Big watches, bracelets up the wrist, necklaces and rings. Adornment is in. But bling is not really the thing – mix shiny with leather and synthetics.

POOLTRADESHOW
Tracy and I took a quick spin around Pool.  Pool was fun as usual.  Lots of emerging contemporary designers showing the full range of clothing, shoes, bags, hats, jewelry, accessories of all kinds.  There is also a cash and carry section.

The eco friendly watches of Sprout were doing good business.  These style sport watches are made with materials that are easy on the Earth but last as long as their more polluting competitors.

Of similar ethos, Thigh High Jeans recycle jeans into fashionable styles off-the-rack or made to order and use the funds to support local, national and global good causes.

The whole section is bright and colorful.  They have drink, food and candy giveaways each day.

Pool is well worth a look.  You’ll find labels that will eventually transition on to the main floor at Project.  The Australian sunglasses line, None The Wiser eyewear is a good example.

WWDMAGIC
We jumped a free limo from the Mandalay Bay to the enormous fashion cornucopia that is WWDMAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The shoe show, Platform and the sourcing show unsurprisingly named Sourcing at MAGIC are located in the South Hall.  They are huge and mesmerizing, and due to time constraints I dodged them this time.

We went straight to the North Hall that houses new designers in their own section, contemporary and more missy lines, and an activewear, yoga, lifestyle section.

We visited a client of mine; the brand new organic fabric yoga and lifestyle collection, Satva.  Satva which is based in New Jersey and produced in India under certified fair trade standards debuted at MAGIC.

The co-founder, Puja Barar, is a yogi herself who has designed this stylish collection at an affordable price point to promote a pure lifestyle for the conscious consumer.  The Spring 13 collection is eye catching with it’s use of soft fabrics, excellent drape, cool prints, and fashion silhouettes.  Puja has added a range of print tees for toddlers.

The North Hall is a tricky space.  It looks good but I always come away thinking that the buyer traffic is thin.  I know some people who have had good shows in there but just as many who haven’t.

Satva had a good show with excellent feedback, orders written, and first rate prospects to follow up.

The main floor of MAGIC is the Central Hall.  Here is where you’ll find the quality contemporary collections located in the Premium and Young Contemporary sections.  The swimwear showcase, ISAM is also here.

I am never quite sure just how buyer-busy the show is. There are so many people in the space, from sales reps to booth staff to vendors to industry folks to media, and, yes, to buyers, that is it hard to work out who’s who.

The feedback from the showrooms was good.  Experienced women’s contemporary Los Angeles rep, Bernadette Mopera was there with all her lines and was having a great first day, “buyers were writing business”.

Other MAGIC stalwarts like PJ Salvage, BB Dakota, Anama, Free People and Betsey Johnson were all busy. 

I did some buying in the accessories section for Z Fabrique, and found an excellent resource for Indian and Nepalese jewelry, textiles and sacred items.

From the Convention Center, time running out, we tried to push on to the WWIN show at the Rio. Taxis were full so we hopped one of the free buses provided by MAGIC to the hotel nearest to the Rio with the bright idea of a short taxi ride from there.  The bus driver took us on a bizarre trip down wrong way alleys, getting us stuck on a turn in a lobby driveway which needed a 25-point turn to get us going the right way, then backwards and into oncoming cars on the lobby driveway until finally pulling up at the wrong hotel (the Cosmopolitan).  We fled the bus incredulous as everyone else and settled in at the bar at the gastropub in the Cosmopolitan to soothe sore feet and jangled nerves.

Later that evening we went to the incredible CurveNV Swim Fashion Show at the Crazy Horse at the MGM Grand.  Fashions by the sponsoring designers are worn by the professional dancers from the Crazy Horse performing fully choreographed routines.  It is always an awesome event.  If you ever get a chance to go, don’t miss it.

My Day 3 & 4 wrap will be out by the end of this week.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Las Vegas Spring13 Fashion Trade Shows Day 1, August 20, 2012

It was an almost balmy 98F today in Las Vegas for the beginning of an extended fashion trade show week. It was 110F here last week.

Spring ’13 collections are breaking this week. Spring and Summer are the most important for most designers. The usual excitement is the in air.

Project, PoolTradeShow and Workroom at the Mandalay Bay were busy this morning and early afternoon. The amount of buyer foot traffic was very encouraging. I spoke to a couple of the agents and showrooms that I know well. They said the foot traffic hadn’t really translated into orders. Apparently, this is the usual order of things. There is a lot to take in on the first morning. The three combined sections are massive. The agents were expecting the paper to flow in the afternoon and tomorrow.

The SYDNY Showroom was doing good business with their Australian collections – Samantha Wills, Aje, bless’ed are the week and Flannel.

The German accessories line, George Gina & Lucy had a booth full of buyers.

Australian swimwear collection, Lisa Maree, had lots going on.

I spent the last part of the day at ENK Vegas at the Wynn. It’s one of my favorite shows of the week.

ENK always put on classy, professional and well-appointed trade shows. Some veterans of Intermezzos and Coteries in New York that I know think that this is their best show. ENK do that bit extra – from the setting and layout, to the food at the buffet, right down to the delicious margaritas they served at the end of the day.

Contemporary and better contemporary men’s and women’s sportswear collections, denim, dresses, accessories and footwear brands are spread over two adjacent function rooms. There were more men’s than women’s collections. There was an excellent vibe there today. Lots of buyers writing orders and leaving paper.


The Charlotte Tarantola booth was so busy that I hardly had a chance to speak with an old friend, Dana Pederson, the National Sales Manager. Dana had enough time to tell me that they have had “an awesome day”. She also told me to grab one of the yummy margaritas that were being served. I took her advice.

Michael Cohen of Michael Cohen Showroom was very happy with the day. Michael is one of the giants of the LA contemporary world. I personally have always appreciated the time he has taken to talk business and give advice to me over the past 12 years. Michael was at ENK with the luxury men’s and women’s basics collection, Cotton Citizen. They had worked Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Japanese buyers.

Chanita Harris with Will Leather Goods was having a busy day. I’ve always liked their high quality men’s and women’s leather accessories.

I really liked the color palettes that I saw at ENK. Fluxus is a good example. Lots of soft color – yellows, oranges, reds and an beautiful light soft green.

More tomorrow.

I’m off now to the ENK party at the Wynn sponsored by Belvedere Vodka. I promise to be good.

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com

Thursday, June 7, 2012

MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK AUSTRALIA, SPRING/SUMMER, 2012-13 – DAYS 2 & 3

I’m back in Los Angeles from Sydney after three very busy weeks attending Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA), doing follow up meetings with designers, manufacturers, industry people, and sales and PR agents, while catching up with important friends and contacts in the Australian fashion world.

My plan this year was to blog everyday of the show rather than put out a long post-show review. I did get a Day 1 recap done. But despite best intentions, I was just way too busy. So settle in for a bit of a read.

Between attending runway shows, meeting with designers and manufacturers, and their sales and PR agents in the suites of the nearby Shangr-La Hotel, and participating in the business matching program coordinated by the New South Wales State Government, Department of Trade & Investment (NSW T&I) in conjunction with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA), and finding time to network and make connections in the VIP hospitality area, I rarely stopped to eat let alone blog. Even my tweets and FB posts dried up.

I was also supposed to meet a delegation of Hong Kong designers promoted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council but just didn’t have the time.

It was an exhilarating and enlightening week. I don’t agree with those who thought the majority of the collections were pedestrian. Sure, it would be great if all the designers involved were in the position to send out forward or avant garde collections to excite and provoke. We are in times when people need wearable clothes at reachable price points. I’m not sure what some of the critics don’t understand about the designation, Ready To Wear.

I thought the layout and organization of the show was better than last year:
  • The addition of the enormous tent in the parking lot of the main venue (The Tent), the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at Circular Quay took the pressure of the upstairs space where one of the runway venues (The Box) is located. The larger shows were done in The Tent which allowed The Box to be used for innovative installation type showcases such as Gail Sorronda, Flowers For A Vagabond and Akira.
  • The Tent also greatly reduced the foot traffic and bottle-necking of show attendees and delegates on the upstairs main floor which allowed for a large media center and a bigger cafe with a significantly expanded seating and meeting area.
  • There were less promotional booths in the upstairs area which again created more space. Last year, collections were showcasing out of booths configured across the floor.
  • This year the Showroom Suites were located in the Shangri-La Hotel, just a short walk up The Rocks from the OPT. Last year, they were a 20 minute uphill walk away at the Westin Hotel in the CBD.
  • Access to the VIP bar was monitored much more carefully. Last year, there were times when half of Sydney was trying to get a drink. It made it very difficult to get productive networking done. This year was much more comfortable.
I think the only aspect of the organization that was not as smooth as last year for me was the online “portal” system for gaining access and seating preferences for the runway shows. Last year, the international delegates were “parachuted” directly into great seating for requested runway shows by IMG staff. As a result, I got first and second row seats for just about every show I wanted to attend. This year the approval and seating of all attendees was done by the designers and their PR and/or sales agents. The lack of preferential treatment meant I didn’t get into some of the most sought-after shows, and my seating allocations were well back from last year. Fortunately, I am luck enough to know the person I call “The Guru of Fashion”, the brilliant bon vivant Nicholas Huxley of The Fashion Design Studio at the Sydney Institute TAFE. Nicholas made a call, and doors opened. Thank you again, Nicholas. More about “The Guru” later.

Day 2
The brilliant Toni Maticevski opened Day 2 of MBFWA in The Tent. This was one I couldn’t get into. I saw Maticevski at Carriageworks last year, and rated it one of the standout shows of the week.

My first runway was the always evocative Flowers For A Vagabond. Last week, Ragtrader magazine described the Spring/Summer collection thusly, “Flowers for a Vagabond has dubbed its spring/summer 2012/13 collection ‘Desirable Darkness’. The collection graduates from dark to bright with a signature tattoo style print presenting continuity throughout. Richly textured, it features contrasting silk chiffon with leather panels and piping and layering metallic tassels with tailored pieces.” Couldn’t put it better myself. I met with Toby Mclean, the designer and his PR firm, Click Communications after MBFWA. Hopefully, FFAV will be available in US stores in the near future.

The gorgeous flowing styles of Talulah were next. Talulah is now represented my Melt Management with showrooms in New York and Los Angeles.


Toi Et Moi Sydney opened their show with the owner, Gill Lawrence’s young daughter beautifully singing in French accompanied by her father on guitar. Gill also owns the collection, Mad Love.

I missed the Jayson Brunsdon show on Tuesday evening believing I had seen the collection at the Fashion Palette show the week before MBFWA. But when I met with Jayson and his sales manager after the show I found out that they had shown Fall/Winter at Fashion Palette for some reason. I am looking forward to seeing his SS 12/13 lookbook. Here is a shot of Jayson’s creations at Fashion Palette.

Instead of Jayson’s show, I made my way to the hip Victoria Room in Darlinghurst for the launch of the brilliant young couture designer Nomiki Glynatsis‘ Spring/Summer collection of couture jewelry and gowns entitled “Essence of An Enchantress”. Moet champagne, delicious hors d’oeuvre live piano accompaniment, interesting people, and gorgeous jewelry and gowns made for a fun, glamorous evening.



Day 3
The first half of Day 3 was crammed with meetings. Oroton was my first runway show of the day. The iconic Australian brand launched it’s first full ready to wear collection at MBFWA. The collection has a crisp, fresh, preppy look with separates in scarf prints, short dresses and jacket edging in Oroton’s classic shimmering metal mesh (the handbags, purses and wallets were synonymous with Australia in the ’70′s & ’80′s), and lots of color – blues, purple, orange, yellow, nudes and neutrals.


My next runway was one of the peoples’ favorites of the week, Watson X Watson. The sister team of Liberty and Somer Watson have created a sexy, uncomplicated, wearable collection that is creating buzz in Australia and internationally.
FabSugar put it best, ” … As their collection hit the runway you could almost hear the collective gasps from the crowd at what was a revelation of epic fashion proportions — these were clothes every woman craves to own, and wear, on a daily basis. For the working woman, soft tailoring and fuss-free silhouettes were on offer in crisp white and nude, while evening wear was presented with sequins, lace and plunging necklines in everything from dresses to jumpsuits. Weekend wear took a sporty turn thanks to utility-style jackets and relaxed florals, and the palest of pinks lent a feminine edge to slim-fit pants, relaxed tees and slouchy knits. Whether you like your silhouettes kept tight and sexy, or prefer something slightly more oversized and exaggerated, Watson X Watson delivers the goods, and then some.” The crowd went nuts after the show.
I am sure we’ll be seeing Watson X Watson retailing in the US very soon. A US distributor or showroom would be wise to snap up the collection ASAP.


As well as their women’s collection, Kooey Australia debuted their first full men’s collection along with Kooey by Sherri-Lee, a diffusion line designed by current Miss Universe Australia, Scherri-Lee Biggs. The color and prints of the women’s collection were highlighted by the Aboriginal-inspired dot prints in gorgeous blues that had you dreaming of a hot summer’s beach day.


Day 3 ended with The Men’s Show showing looks from designers ZsadarNathan Paul SwimwearInjuryFrom BrittenKalb & Etiw and Mils.

My favorites were Zsadar, Nathan Paul Swimwear and Kalb & Etiw.

Zsadar’s black on black and greyscale palette, asymmetric hems, drop crotch pants and button down shirts was fashion forward and wearable. Talented young Perth designer Shane Newton’s collection has huge potential, especially in the European market. I look forward to following his progress.


The Nathan Paul Swimwear got the crowd going with the models freelancing with poses and crotch grabbing at the end of the runway. Designer Nathan Lodge is thinking out of the box with his styles for men and women. The Dia de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead) prints will be a hit in Australia. His swim brief for men is one of the best I have seen. Polos, unisex shorts and a sweet jacket for women round out the sexy swim styles. Nathan has gone the extra mile by using Australia’s now famous androgynous model, Andrej Pejic. Andrej debuted on the international catwalk scene in theJean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2011 Men’s Show.

Keep an eye out for my Day 4 & 5 review over the coming days. If you see anything in this blog that you want to know more about, please contact me at: info@paulbrindleyconsults.com.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Monday, April 30, 2012

IT’S MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK AUSTRALIA!

I woke up to a beautiful Sydney Monday morning streaming through the window of my good friend’s Surry Hills apartment that I’ll be calling home for the next three weeks. I’ve been in town since very early Thursday morning. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) starts this morning. I’ll be there all week. The following two weeks are filled with client meetings and networking.

Despite a smooth, sleep-filled flight aboard a comfy Qantas A380 (they might have cracks in their wings but they top the dear old 747’s handily), I was completely zonked Thursday as I moved through a day of work and logistics trying desperately to stay awake and avoid extended jetlag. If you need stimulation while trudging along on hazy autopilot, there’s no more appealing and vibrant place than Sydney.

Thursday and Friday were spent at Fashion Palette, a high-end showcase of Australian designers held at the exceptional Carriageworks event space in Redfern … more about the show in a separate blog in the coming days.

MBFWA is Australia’s premier fashion week that provides a platform for designers to showcase their collections to the world’s most influential media and buyers. MBFWA claims the mantle of the Asia Pacific’s stop on the international fashion week circuit joining Paris, Milan, New York and London.

Spring/Summer 2012-13 will be breaking. It is an extremely important week for me. I get to watch the runway shows of the latest collections from some of Australia’s most established (such as Bec & Bridge, Oroton, Toni Maticevski, Ksubi, Kooey, Zimmermann) and emerging designers (Ode To No One, Toi Et Moi Sydney, Akira, Watson X Watson). I meet with designers and their sales and PR agents and view their collections in the suites of the nearby Shangri-La Hotel. And very importantly, I meet and network with the movers and shakers of the Australian fashion industry.

At paul brindley consults, we work with international and US domestic fashion designers and manufacturers wanting to launch in the US:
  • We conduct market research and advise on the US apparel market.
  • We source the most appropriate US sales channels (independent showrooms, corporate sales, distribution or licensing).
  • We provide referrals to key contacts in PR, logistics, etc.
  • We make sure our clients are export ready – pbc Fashion Services.
I’ll be taking part in the excellent business matching program being coordinated by the New South Wales State Government, Department of Trade & Investment in conjunction with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA). I’ll also be meeting a delegation of Hong Kong designers promoted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

I’ll be attending some off-site showcases of designers who aren’t on the official schedule but are taking advantage of the buyer activity and general buzz generated by MBFWA to launch their Spring/Summer collections and announce themselves to the world.

The official five-day schedule is centered at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at Sydney’s fabulous Circular Quay. If you have never been to Circular Quay, it is one of the most spectacular big city vistas anywhere in the world.

With the CBD at your back, Sydney Harbor Bridge on your left, the Sydney Opera House on your right, and the unparalleled Sydney Harbor lapping at the quay, you are in the heart of the historic Sydney Cove. The OPT is appropriately on your left as you head toward “The Coathanger”.

It’s going to be a very busy and exciting week. I’ll be blogging and tweeting constantly so stay tuned.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK AUSTRALIA, SPRING/SUMMER 2012-13, DAY 1

It turned out a cloudy day at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay in downtown Sydney for Day 1 of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA).

The first runway of the day for me was Lisa Maree. The collection is a sexy mix of swim and ready-to-wear. I loved the colors, prints, use of crochet, hints of leather and how the collection flowed together.

Melt Management represents the collection in the US. Melissa Trovato, the Principal of Melt, is a good friend of Lisa Maree’s and introduced us by email. I made sure to meet the tall, gorgeous designer and her equally gorgeous young daughter after the show.

From the bright Lisa Maree, I went into the dark of art installation showcase by fashion forward designer, Gail Sorronda. No runway here. Models slowly moved conveyor-like from one podium to the next as they made their way around the vee of the installation in front of screened imagery. Oh My Goth was the theme. Still there was plenty of bright and fluoro colors in the collection. The models’ make-up and hair was brilliant.

Gail Sorronda

















The Miss Unkon show revealed a softer, more feminine collection compared to last year’s tribal motif.
Miss Unkon











Aurelio Costarella blew the room away with his classic collection of beaded, embroidered eveningwear in a subdued palette. The crowd certainly wasn’t subdued as Aurelio received a rousing ovation as he walked between his creations.











In between runways, I filled the day with client meetings at The Hub and collection viewings at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel. I reconnected with many of the industry folks I met last year.

All in all, an exhilarating and exciting day was had by all. The rest of the week promises much, much more.

I hope you enjoyed my tweets throughout the day – @pbconsults

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Thursday, April 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL TEXTILE SHOW, SPRING/SUMMER 2013 – MARCH 26-28, 2012

The Spring/Summer 2013 Los Angeles International Textile Show (a.k.a. LA Textile) had the California Market Center (CalMart) in the downtown Fashion District jumpin’ last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. LA Textile is the largest textile, trim, design and production resource trade show in the United States in both size and variety of resources. The Spring/Summer show is held in March. The Fall/Winter show is in October.

My bestie and pbc colleague, Tracy Engelien (owner of the brilliant Boxie) and I had planned one of regular LA store scouting excursions for the Monday. We spent the first half of the day on the Westside in Venice and Santa Monica before heading downtown to walk the show and take advantage of the excellent seminar program that is presented by the show participants and the leading trade associations. This was my first time attending.

Tracy was particularly interested in the “Creative Vision: Spring/Summer 13 Trend Seminar” by highly regarded UK trend forecaster, Mudpie. Unfortunately, it was canceled. We are supposed be getting the presentation emailed to us.

I had signed up for Fashion Business Incorporated‘s (FBI) “LA State of the Apparel Industry Report” seminar. The research report which was sponsored by Los Angeles Department of Water & Power was presented by the supervising researcher, Peter Kilduff, Professor and Chair of the Apparel Merchandising and Management Program at Cal Poly Pomona. It sounded like a fascinating seminar, and it didn’t disappoint. The room was full, and the Q&A could have gone on all night. Sorry for the tease but I’m working on an extensive blog on the report and the seminar. I’ll try and get it out before I leave for the Mercedes Benz Australia Fashion Week in Sydney at the end of the month.

I like FBI. FBI is a non-profit organization that been around since ’99. It provides an excellent range of services to the fashion industry including entrepreneurial development, resources and training. Their seminars and panel discussions are well worthwhile – knowledgeable and insightful speakers, relevant and practical topics and the programs move along at a good pace.

Other seminars included topics like trends and directions for Spring/Summer 13 and Fall/Winter 13/14, purchasing, design, brand building, fabric development and innovation, and legal issues presented by partner organizations such as California Fashion Association, trend forecaster WGSN, fashion law specialists Fox Rothschild, LLP, and fabric innovator Lenzing.

Why attend LA Textile? As I said above, it is the largest, most diverse textile trade show in the US. It attracts more than 200 exhibitors from around the world showcasing fabric, textile, accessories and trim products, design and decoration resources, production tools, technology and sourcing, and the very important fabric, color and style trend forecasting resources. If you are a manufacturer, fashion or textile designer, interior decorator, architect, material supplier, trim or home textile retailer, distributor, fashion trend follower or a fashion student, LA Textile is for you.

The aforementioned seminars are a great value-add to the show. There are invaluable networking drinks at the end of each day. I never miss these because I always make new contacts, such as Jim Wallis, President of Montgomery Fashion Group from Australia. Jim was quoted in the official press release as saying, “We have seen many apparel makers and brands from the Western United States, Texas, and Florida. We’ve had great exposure at this Show and are very happy with the turn out.”

Registration is on the ground floor atrium, as was the Korea Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall. The rest of the show is held in the 13th floor Penthouse. The seminars are also held on the 13th floor. FBI held seminars in their 7th floor offices.

There was plenty of foot traffic, lots to see, the seminars were full, and best of all, it was a real learning experience. I would recommend checking out the next LA Textile show in October.

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

LA FASHION MARKET WEEK – MARCH 2012 – REVIEW

To paraphrase Will Ferrell’s character, Mugatu in the fashion industry parody, Zoolander, “LA is really not hot right now”. That seemed to be the sentiment for many at this week’s Los Angeles Fashion Market Week.

In my blog from Day 1 of Market Week, I asked the question, “Where was everyone?”. The optimism generated at the Las Vegas trade shows and then in New York had us hoping for a bumper LA Market Week. It didn’t quite turn out that way. Foot traffic was choppy, feedback from showrooms was mixed, but buyers remain upbeat and optimistic. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure that a sustained recovery in the badly hit fashion industry is underway. I just wonder if LA will be up there leading the way.

The fashion industry is inherently cyclical – and not just in trends. The hotspots for fashion move with the trends. Los Angeles has had an extended period in the sun mainly due to the “dress down to dress up” trend that has become the signature LA chic. With more prevalent structure and tailoring now in the market, New York and Paris are eclipsing LA. Let me be clear, LA has never come close to those two cities in the fashion stakes but it has held it’s own over the past 10 years.

I think LA also suffers from buyer trade show fatigue. LA Market Week comes almost two months after Fall and Spring break each February and August in Las Vegas, and a month after the trade show roadshows move through New York. By the time, buyers roll up here they have seen most of what’s on offer twice at least. I had the owner of one very successful LA showroom half-jokingly tell me, “if this is what LA market is like, maybe we should stop having them. This should be a busy market for LA.” He agreed that there are too many trade shows back-to-back. As such, LA is becoming a big regional fashion week rather than a trendsetter.

All that said, there is definitely a need for LA Market, and if you are a designer or manufacturer, you definitely need sales representation on the west coast. There was plenty of business written during the week. I just think a lot more people expected to share in the love.

Designers & Agents
The d&a show on the 3rd floor of the New Mart had good energy and plenty of foot traffic. There were well over 100 booths with 150-175 brands on show. The show was freshened up by a sprinkling of new exhibitors.

Some Fall12 collections that caught my eye were:
  • Christy’s London – National Sales Manager, Ben De Luca told me that wide brim floppy hats for women will continue to trend into Fall – the 60′s and 70′s looks aren’t going away soon. Men are going for a wider brim in fedoras after the short brim Mad Men-style craze. They were the styles that buyers were trying on as we were talking.
  • IRO – this hip Parisian collection is rocking red and silver sequin bomber jackets with black leather epaulettes, shearling bomber jackets, and very cool shredded and distressed wool tees.
  • Nigel Preston & Knight – an English collection that has been around forever is known internationally for it’s leather, suede and sheepskin collections. It makes you want to move to a cold climate just to wear their the raw leather and fur coats.
  • Pip-Squeak Chapeau – this Indochine flavored collection of sheers, burlaps, and raw finishes is the epitome of intentional “high-casual” fashion. Chic, sophisticated tops, sweaters, jackets, pants, dresses, and skirts handmade in Brooklyn from 100% natural yarns and fabrics all have wonderful texture and purpose. I overheard one buyer describe the line as “well thought out” which is an intelligent departure from some of the adjectives used by buyers to describe collections.
  • En Shallah – from Morocco, En Shallah is a unique accessories collection focusing on striking shoes and bags. En Shallah employs local women artisans to produce their one-of-a- kind pieces using recycled and reclaimed fabrics and materials, and natural vegetable dying and tanning processes. Their leather boots with vintage tapestry paneling and their distressed frilled bags using the same materials really stood out.
  • Ticci Tonetto – this sexy and sophisticated collection was in the same booth as En Shallah (Nyali Showroom in the Cooper Building). The collection is named for the designer. Ticci has had great success for many years with her signature looks that have evolved over time. For Fall, Ticci is showing beautiful dresses in black and inky blue with corseting and boning as well as sexy camisoles and tops in lace and leopard print.
The d&a house DJ, Emma Ford was in great form over the 3 days. Emma spins for d&a in Paris, New York and LA, as well as at clubs around the world.

All in all, I think d&a was a success this time. Foot traffic in general in the New Mart building seemed a bit off this market but d&a still pulled plenty of interest. The now traditional Mexican fiesta at the end of the last day is always fun – margaritas, Mexican beer and food sent everyone off on a high with Emma’s beats jamming in their heads.


The Cooper Design Space
AKA “The Cooper Building”, The Cooper Design Space has taken over as the premier contemporary showroom building in the LA Fashion District. The New Mart had held this distinction for many years. However, the Cooper has become the home for the hottest, most fashion forward designers for men’s and women’s. With multi-line independent showrooms like Brand Equity, Namaste, Proper Fools, Community Service and Bond, and brands like Ted Baker, AG, Australia’s Ladakh, Wildfox, Trina Turk and the amazing Robert Rodriguez space, the Cooper has an aesthetic that the New Mart just can’t match.

I walked all the floors with good friend, Tracy Engelien of Boxie. There was a marked increase in foot traffic and energy over the New Mart. I will write more about the Cooper in a coming blog.

But I do want to mention a collection in one of the guest showrooms on the 3rd floor. Fiftytwo Showroom from New York was showing the truly inspired Jonathan Simkhai. I first saw the collection at Workroom in Vegas last August. It is one of my favorite of all the collections I have seen in the past year. Sexy and feminine with a classic styling, he mixes in accents of bright color against a dark palette with mesh cutouts and a wonderful sense of geometry.


The Lady Liberty Building
Elizabeth Hehir of SYDNY Showroom in the Lady Liberty Building was very happy with the week. SYDNY is an Australian designer specialist. They carry two collections that showed at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week last year – bless'ed are the meek and Flannel. blessed will be there again in May along with Aje – although now it is the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia. I’ll be blogging from there starting April 30.

Elizabeth is having great success with Lilya. After doing very well at Workroom in Vegas, Elizabeth tells me, “its doing amazing business, and is really one to watch.”

“bless'ed is creating a lot of buzz. Sell through is strong. Stores are reordering within a week. Miley Cyrus bought 3 pieces of bless'ed at Westerly in Corona Del Mar.”

Samantha Wills is doing phenomenal business in the first season with us. The presentation and packaging are special. There is so much bang for your buck.” I have met Samantha a couple of times through my involvement with the Australian community in Southern California. Samantha is an inspired designer and savvy businessperson, and very friendly and approachable. It is great to see the success her collection is having.

Well, that’s it for LA Market Week for March 2012. We didn’t get the business that everyone hoped for but the feedback was positive in general. The economy is definitely improving, albeit slowly. The fashion industry is cautiously improving along with it. A slow, steady, real economic recovery is what we need – no more of these bubble and burst nightmares. We’ll know a lot more by the next LA Market Week in June when retailers have had a full season to see how their Spring and Summer deliveries have sold.

As the Balinese saying goes, ‘slowly, slowly, catch the monkey”.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Related Blogs
LA FASHION MARKET WEEK – DAY 1 – WHERE WAS EVERYONE?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

LA FASHION MARKET WEEK – DAY 1 – WHERE WAS EVERYONE?

It's Fall12 Market Week in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District. I got downtown around lunch yesterday for Day 1. The carparks were full. After the success of the Las Vegas trade shows and the good feedback from the recent New York shows, it looked like we were in for a big day.

I headed for the New Mart building to drop by bag in Michelle Roy Designs Showroom on the 8th floor. Michelle very kindly allows me to work out of her showroom during market. My good friend Tracy Engelien shows her brilliant new basics collection, Boxie, there. We all have a good laugh between buyer meetings and my recon missions around the fashion district. The elevators at the New Mart are usually a good indication of how busy market is. There are only two lifts servicing the 12 floors of showrooms. They are either so full you have to wait for the next one or you wait forever as they stop at every floor - sometimes they inexplicably skip the floor you are waiting on.

So I was expecting a long wait. But, nup - I got the first elevator that came and it wasn't even half full. I asked myself, "Where is everyone?" It's a question I heard all day.

My first mission of the day was to check out the relatively new accessories, lifestyle and gift show Coeur, on the 11th floor of the Cooper Building. This was only the second show for Coeur - their first was the Spring/Summer showcase at last October's Market Week. They do two LA shows a year - Spring/Summer in October and Fall/Winter in March.

The 11th floor of the Cooper is a large, bright, naturally lit white space - perfect for a trade show. 70 brands are showing - mainly women's with some unisex. The majority are US brands (mostly made in the US) with some French and German designers mixed in.

The Co-Founder and Creative Director of Coeur, Henri Myers told me, "We are creating something different for the fashion retailer. We are looking to provide a diversity of options."

As you would imagine at an accessories show, it is heavy on shoes, bags and jewelry. There are also some scents (Six Scents), leggings, scarves, and one knitwear and sweater line - Carolina K.

The trending native American motif is strong among the jewelry designers with lots of beading and turquoise. As is the use of brass.

Tote bags continue to be popular. Color blocking is all the rage. The raw unfinished leather look in bags is impressive.

Shoes are definitely the thing at present. Boots everywhere - ankle and calf lengths reign. I really like the embellished heels trend - lots of color, studs, jewels. You can just go for it right now with your shoes.

Some of the collections that caught my eye were:
  • Gilda Grey with art deco undertones in Czech glass, Swarovski crystals, coral on sterling and liquid silver. I loved their novelty reflecting bowties in bright colors. They are doing the Native American thing in classic styling.

  • Many Will See's inspired one-of-a-kind creations are new every month. Handmade in LA for natural materials, they also produce a reorder collection. For readers in Australia, you will soon be able to buy Many Will See at The Happiness Place that opens in Brisbane this month.

  • Symmetry scarves are made in Los Angeles. The transforming pieces with a hardware and grommet attaching system use a mix of fabrics and prints make them a soft edgy feel. The scarf in the photo below is a good example. The tartan with the hardware reminds me of the punk skirts from back in the 70's mixed with a classic grey wool.

  • Graf & Lantz bags are also made in LA. Their color blocked felt and leather totes are their best sellers. I loved their range of felt and leather wine bottle carriers.



  • Jo Handbags are deconstructed classics made in New York and Mexico. Shoulder bags, totes, clutches with removable chains and straps blend boot leather, woven vinyl, burlap, waxed canvas, copper, silver and brass. The raw, unfinished feel gives the collection substance and quality.  They are available in 150 doors in the US and internationally. For those in Australia, you can find them at Burnt Orange in Mosman in Sydney.

The foot traffic at Coeur was quite good. I liked the sake tasting table. I think the show has a lot of potential.  I look forward to seeing how it grows from here.

On the way down in the elevator, I was surprised to bump into the owners of a busy, highly regarded showroom in the New Mart. They are usually so busy at market, I had to ask what they were up to. Like a lot of people, they were trying to find out where everyone was. I'll see if I can clear up that mystery today. But I suspect, we are experiencing buyer fatigue from the rolling trade show circuit that begins the year.

The cars were there but where were the people?

Paul Brindley
paulbrindleyconsults.com