It looked relatively quiet to me in LA's downtown Fashion District last week with buyers in town for the first Market Week of the year. What is Market Week?
With Fall 2012 breaking at the February round of Las Vegas fashion trade shows, retailers coming of a dubious holiday season, and a very soft January around town (see my last blog), I wasn't expecting much in the way of buyer action. I didn't think there was but the showrooms I spoke with seemed reasonably happy with the foot traffic.
As is usual for this market, the d&a show on the 3rd floor of the New Mart was small - only 27 collections. Most seemed to be writing immediate goods.
A familiar face was Ben De Luca of the hat manufacturer, Christy's London. Ben tells me that wide brim floppy hats for women will continue to be the trend into Spring and Summer. Men are going for a wider brim in fedoras after the short brim Mad Men-style craze. An interesting note from Ben was that Christy's are doing more domestic production, out of Rhode Island. This is a trend that I think we will start seeing more of - I'll be blogging on this soon.
The popular Fluxus looked to be doing good business with it's best of Spring immediates.
Local LA designer Lotta Stensson, who I mentioned in my last blog on the LA fashion retail scene, was there, and was happy with the way the week had gone.
The showrooms in the New Mart and Cooper buildings were the busiest as usual. The men's and women's contemporary showrooms on the 4th and 5th floors of the Cal Mart building seemed to be doing OK. The Lady Liberty, Academy Awards and 824 buildings on Los Angeles were quiet.
As is my want during market, I spent considerable time cruising the showrooms of the apparel buildings. It's always fascinating to take in the general vibe, hear what buyers and reps are saying to each other (and see how many air kisses they can get off), pick up scuttlebutt in the elevators (like a buying consultant telling a group that the Cooper Building has taken over from the New Mart as the happening place to be), see what everyone is wearing (usually more interesting than what's on the racks), and drop by the showrooms that I know.
For instance, I called in to speak with Franco Nakagawa of Magnet Showroom in the Academy Awards Building on Los Angeles Street. Franco is interested in a couple of Australian collections that I have referred so I wanted to see how things were progressing. Franco specializes in edgy, fashion forward clothes and accessories that he sells to his worldwide customer base. He carries two collections that really caught my eye.
Gasoline Glamour is an feast for the senses. Jewelry, accessories, shoes and clothing of amazing color, studded, spiked and covered in Swarovski rhinestones and crystals. You want edgy, well you got it. You have to know who you are (or at least think you do) to wear this stuff with confidence. Gasoline Glamour is not for the faint hearted.
The new Italian collection, Ventidue ("22" in Italian, just in case) is another standout. This handmade collection of bags and accessories is manufactured in California with using Italian skins and hardware. The colors, textures and styles have a one-of-a-kind appeal. Check out the large leather Raffaella flap shoulder bags, and the small colorful, crystal and metal spiked Giulietta.
If the showrooms were telling the truth, the week was better than I thought it was - that's good news given the continuing retail conditions.
It is going to be very interesting to see what happens in Vegas next month. There was some optimism in August that things were finally turning around for the last quarter of 2011. That didn't happen. Once again, it's fingers crossed all around.