Friday, February 24, 2012


Last week, I started writing this review of my final day at the February 2012 Las Vegas fashion trade shows with an old business axiom in mind – “it’s all about location, location, location” Why? Because for reasons that are privy to the high minds that produced the Project trade show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the booths on the floor had been completely reconfigured from the layout that people were accustomed to (I think buyers like the familiarity, I know I do – it saves lots of valuable time not having to reinvent the wheel every show).  This had caused some choppy sales results for brands that usually do well at Project. I thought that was a interesting takeaway from the week, and a good way to theme this blog.

Lo and behold, I open my daily email update from Apparel News the next day, and the second article on the email is their review of the Vegas trade shows with the same quote in the first line! Except they called a maxim, instead of an axiom. Great minds think alike? I hope the folks at Apparel News think so.

The Mandalay Bay hosts 5 of the week’s showcases – Project and PoolTradeShow on the first floor, and Mens/Wear, s.l.a.t.e and Street on the second floor. I concentrated on Project and Pool.

Project is where you’ll find the most influential and commercially successful contemporary brands in the marketplace.

I dropped by to check out the traffic on Tuesday morning on my way to MAGIC – it was busy, busy. On Wednesday, it had dropped off considerably.

Welcome to Project

It seemed massive this time; with a higher proportion of men’s to women’s collections than usual. (The Spring show in August is usually bigger for women’s due mainly to the compression of the other trade shows around the country at this time of the year). For us trained seals, it took some getting used to. As I mentioned above, the producers reconfigured the floor set-up; they flipped the men’s booths with the women’s so that the main entrance lead into the men’s section, and they moved Workroom from it’s own nook and had it floating in the sea of booths. The feedback on foot traffic and sales from the collections was mixed but largely positive.

The main trends were consistent with the other shows in town:
  • men’s workwear is big – check shirts, lots of dark denim, and work boots everywhere.
  • bright pop (blue, green, red, yellow, orange) and burnt subtlety (orange and rust) continue into Fall.
  • inky blues and greens (I particularly liked the green that Fluxus is rocking) are mixing in with the usual black and greys.
  • the 60′s and 70′s motif is still strong across the board.
  • printed denim was everywhere.
  • the western motif is strong – the cowboy and Native American look, lots of fringing.
  • knits and layering are dominant – ‘comfort’ with style and construction is the motto here.
  • brown leathers with accents in boots for women seem the go - pointed and round toe.
  • wide brim hats for women with the men are going for a wider brim in fedoras after the short brim Mad Men-style craze.

The Australian Connection

It was like Australia Week at Project. Lots of Australian collections were showing with quite a few featured in the Workroom section. I didn’t like the fact that Workroom had been moved from it’s previous location. It is only three shows ago that Workroom was walled off from the rest of Project and you had to specially register to attend. The space had the look and feel of a working collective. Since then, it has been steadily integrated into Project proper.

Workroom is the most fashion forward section of the entire MAGIC Marketplace. The clothing, accessories and shoe brands are carefully selected, juried, and well worth a close look.

A number of US-based showrooms specializing in Australian contemporary women’s collections were there; most notably, LA’s The SYDNY Showroom (Workroom) and the bi-coastal Melt Management (Project). The showrooms do both the sales and PR for their clients, as well as consulting on brand strategy, product placement, and market planning. I know that SYDNY also does the product distribution for their clients. The biggest barrier to success for an international brand is creating the right partnerships in the market. The holistic approaches of these two firms ensures probability of success is maximized and risk is minimized.

Elizabeth Lewis, one of the partners in The SYDNY, was very happy with week. The SYDNY were showing Samantha Wills jewelry, Lilya and bless'ed are the meek. All the collections did well. Elizabeth was especially happy with Lilya which is selling well everywhere in the US. It is a medium price point range with soft knits and pastels in a 60′s and 70′s feel which are great for layering – as Elizabeth expertly pointed out, “…. it’s something Anita Pallenberg would wear back in the day …”

Elizabeth working the SYDNY booth at Workroom

Other notable Australian collections in Workroom were the well established trend-setter Ksubi, the fashion forward and sophisticated Shakuhachi and an exciting newcomer to the US, Elliat.

It was great to see a couple of collections that I saw and spoke with at the Rosemount (now Mercedes) Fashion Week in Sydney last year at Project – Friend of Mine (repped by Melt) and Talulah (by New York based Bui-Lavry PR).

Back in the USA
Alfred Davis, one of the partners of the highly regarded LA showroom, T & A Showroom had a bumper show with all his lines, in particular the new Simon Hart by Dorsia and the on-trend Publish men’s collections.

The fabulous Chelsea with German bag collection, George Gina & Lucy told me all their 16 lines everything were selling well. Lots of bright colors and color blocking are big for them into Fall. Plus I got to pick up their always fun giveaways. This time they were thick rubber bracelets with affirmations and purple and orange cut-out cardboard ears as GGL Bullshit Protectors guaranteed as “essential protection against any gossip, shit talk & fashion chit-chat”. Love it!

Monica Gordon, owner of Chantal Accessories Showroom in the New Mart in Los Angeles, reported that she "had a good show" and opened new domestic accounts with the stylishly edgy bag collection, christopher.kon.

I missed one of my favorite people this time, Ginny Wong. She was at a meeting when I dropped by. Her peeps told me that they were definitely feeling the effects of the booth reconfiguring. While the show had been OK, they hadn’t seen as many of the buyers they usually do. Ginny has had the same cluster of booths for a while. I always knew where to go to find her.

From what I saw and from what I heard, Project was a busy show. Buyers were writing orders and leaving paper, and most showrooms and salespeople were very happy with the week. We have seen these mirages over the past couple of years. Let’s hope that this time the improvement is real and lasting.

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

Pool gets busy

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

Again, the color palette in Pool was mostly brights, brights, brights. As usual, lots of junior and young contemporary fashions mixed in with accessories and shoes.

I really liked the wearable art accessories of Studio Manhattan Art + Design, and the eco-friendly watches of Sprout.

The Rockabilly/Punkabilly styles of Queen of Heartz and Rock Rebel Shop, and the ‘Scare Wear’ of Kreepsville 666 spiced up the aisles.

Well, that’s it for the Las Vegas round of fashion trade shows for February ’12. Make sure you check out my series of blogs covering the week. I would love your feedback. If you have any questions about anything in the blogs or about paul brindley consults, please contact me at

Cheers, Paul
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Make sure you check out my Day 1 blogs.

I spent today at the MAGIC trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center. On the way there, I dropped by Project and PoolTradeShow shows at the Mandalay Bay to check out the foot traffic – it was huge. The energy at the shows was electric. More about those tomorrow.

At the Las Vegas Convention Center, I walked:
There is more than product on display. There are fashion shows, buying workshops, roundtable discussions, market forecasting, industry service providers and seminars highlighting e-tailing, emerging technologies, social media, and more. It’s all here.

The largest of the week’s showcases, WWDMAGIC takes up the Central and North Halls of the Convention Center. As the name suggests, the show is presented in collaboration with the industry’s leading newspaper masthead, Women’s Wear Daily.

The main floor at Central Hall

WWDMAGIC likes to brand itself as Fashion’s most comprehensive collection of women’s apparel, accessories and footwear … across every pricepoint and trend. It’s certainly comprehensive; there are more than 2000 labels on show. There is so much here that you need to know what you are looking for or it starts to feel like you are standing still and the booths are moving past you. There are quality contemporary collections located in the Premium and Young Contemporary sections in the Central Hall, and some in the North Hall.

The great news is that the activity on the floor was markedly better than in August.

Industry veteran Leila Ross of Leila Ross Showroom in Los Angeles (working the Anama booth) told me that they had “been slammed”. Leila thinks, ” .. maybe things are finally turning around”. I would take this to the bank because Leila told me 2 years ago that the market was worst she had seen it and it would get worse – she was right. Let’s hope she is right again.

I then bumped into Rose Cato who used to work for Leila and is now with Live Free Fashions. Rose was very happy with the show. Rose introduced me to Stephen and Jen Kelly of Bird & Vine. Bird & Vine is another of a growing trend – it is made in the US. As their Facebook page says, it embodies the free spirit of chic California style. It is all about comfortable, feminine clothing with a hint of edginess. Jen was very happy with the foot traffic, and buyers have been leaving orders.

The fabulous Aimee Mercer, the new Sales Manager, Major/Discount Channels for BB Dakota said they had a huge show with their BB Dakota and Jack Fall collections. I dropped by the booth a number of times to try and catch up but they were jamming constantly. They were showing jackets and coats in a range of silhouettes from London Rocker and LA Gal in buttery leather, suede's and shearling to Jackie O styles in wools, plush and tweeds.

Aimee said they also booked tons of sweaters, which hit that "sweet spot" price point. We are using luxe yarns to create solid knits, Navajo prints and cables.

Another good friend, Bernadette of Bernadette Mopera & Co., took a different view, “MAGIC was a little strange .. too many vendors and little customers or too much ground they are covering … ” However, Bern went on to say that she did very well especially with Knitted Dove sweaters (recently worn by Zooey Deschanel on her hit series, New Girl) … “Fall is her season.”
Zooey Deschanel in Knitted Dove on "New Girl"

Betsy Johnson get mobbed at MAGIC

Check out this shot of the scrum that was pressing in on the Betsy Johnson booth for Betsy’s personal appearance. She is a legend of the industry.

Rande Cohen was busy as usual at the PJ Salvage booth.

ISAM Swim was smaller than August but that is due to selling seasons.

Platform is enormous. There are over 1500 brands. When you see how big it is, it is amazing to think they sell it out!

The trend for Fall is boots, boots, boots of all lengths – ankle and calf length were most popular.

The innovative new Mojito

The standout collection for me was the English brand, Hakes. Julian Hakes is an architect who has designed an innovative new style called the Mojito. The Mojito does not have a foot plate. It has a piece that wraps around the foot to support the ball and heel, and to take the flex of the shoe. They look really stiff and hard, and I wondered how comfortable they are. The fabulous Michelle Roy of Michelle Roy Designs, who took me to the booth, tried them on. She said they are very comfortable. They are made of carbon fibre and laminated with rubber on the side. The inside lining is leather. You are definitely going to hear more about Hakes.

more Mojitos

Sourcing at MAGIC
Sourcing is another enormous trade show. There are more than 800 apparel, accessories and footwear resources, merchandised by country and category: contract and original design manufacturers; fabric, trim and component suppliers; and service and technology providers.
Market leaders like Pantone are there.

Tomorrow is Project and Pool …

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


It’s late here in Las Vegas on Day 1 of Fashion Week. I’m just back from the ENK party at Encore .. but more about that later.

Take a look at my blog on this morning’s festivities. This afternoon I walked the rest of the shows at the Venetian then did the brilliant ENK show at the Wynn.

CURVENV is a white and pink showcase of designer lingerie, men’s and women’s swimwear, underwear, shapewear, loungewear, sleepwear and foundation. The show seemed bigger this time. It was a little quiet when I was there.

The increasing popularity of and progression in the styling of shapewear was evident.

Fine Lines Australia seemed to be doing good business.

The floor at (capsule)
The floor at (capsule)

The (capsule) website says it best, “(capsule) is the fashion and lifestyle trade event that fuses the best high-end contemporary brands, directional independent designers and super premium street wear labels. Presenting a highly-edited assemblage of collections from around the world, (capsule) reflects the look of the new consumer and presents a fresh approach to the fashion tradeshow.

The show has the bare feeling of the original PoolTradeShow set-up when it was still by the pool at an off strip hotel. Homogenous metal racks and wooden furniture keep the focus on the product. Hip street and progressive contemporary labels created a cool vibe with plenty of foot traffic.

The workwear look was strong – check shirts, lots of dark denim, and work boots everywhere.

The OFFPRICE show is massive. I don’t know much about this world but there seemed to be something for everyone at 20 to 70% off wholesale clothing, accessories and footwear. I’m just not sure I saw much worth buying.

The floor at ENKVegas
The floor at ENKVegas

ENKVegas at the Wynn is one of my 2 favorite shows of the week – I’ll talk about the other in tomorrow’s blog.

ENK always put on classy, professional and well-appointed trade shows. Some veterans of many Intermezzos and Coteries in New York that I spoke to yesterday 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 glasses they serve the champagne in at the end of the day.

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 plenty of foot traffic.

Some of the highlights for me where:
  • Blondes Make Better T-shirtsand their use of sustainable fabrics and silk screening processes.
    Charlotte Tarantola Faux Fur Capelet
  • the Australian collection, Wish. Sales Manager, Emma Davis is happy with the buyer response. Their rabbit and faux fur trimmed pieces are doing well – people are shifting more to the faux. Printed denim, oversized and aztec theme knits, and 60′s/70′s influenced items are also drawing interest.
  • the fabulous Charlotte Tarantola. Dana Pederson is the National Sales Manager and a longtime friend of mine in the industry. Dana thinks ENK is a great show and loves the intimate feel – most importantly, so do her buyers. Charlotte’s animal prints continue to do great business. I really like the faux fur capelet with reversible jersey on the inside.
  • the women’s cashmeres and wools looked great.
  • For Fall, boots are big – lace-up and slip-on, pointed and round toe – see
  • the dark, dark green that Fluxus is rocking.
  • the Sterlingwear of Boston Pea Coat with leather lapels.

I finished the day at the ENK party at the Encore. Let’s just say they put on a great party too!

Stay tuned for my Day 2 wrap-up tomorrow.

Paul Brindley

Monday, February 13, 2012


Here we are again for the bi-annual fashion extravaganza that is the Las Vegas fashion trade show week.

Fall12 is breaking here this week. I’ll be covering most of the trade shows that spread out across the city.

I got into town at 5pm last night and headed straight over to the Venetian Hotel (where I am writing at the moment) to check in to the trade shows here. The Sands Expo and Convention Center hosts:
  • CurveNV – designer lingerie and swimwear
  • (capsule) – contemporary, independent fashion and lifestyle brands
  • Moda Las Vegas and AccessoriesTheShow – contemporary and better women’s ready-to-wear and accessories
  • MRKET – better menswear
  • OFFPRICE – discount and close-out clothing, accessories and footwear
I just finished walking MRKET, Moda and the Accessories shows.

This is the biggest MRKET yet, with over 550 booths of contemporary and better men’s ready-to-wear. The show tends to more of a traditional men’s customer with some contemporary labels mixed in.

The highlights for me were:
Giles at Robert Graham told me that the company is expanding into tailored clothing with suits, sports coats, dress shirts, ties, and accessories including Italian leather shoulder bags, belts and wallets, and cufflinks. RG is focusing on fun and lots of color for Fall.

Rod Williams, the EVP North America for New Zealand’s Rodd & Gunn told me that they are having a great show. Rodd & Gunn’s soft launch in the US for Spring opened 20 doors “without trying”, in Rod’s words. The full launch for Fall12 looks like yielding another 70-80 retailers including 3 in Japan and 6 in Canada. Their knitwear has been their best seller. Rod thinks US buyers perceive knits as a strength for a New Zealand manufacturer so they start there. He also believes that because Rodd & Gunn have a full collection and are retailers themselves (with 80 stores in Australia and New Zealand) that buyers are more comfortable that they know what they are doing now and moving forward.

Ken Haruta, independent sales representative and owner of the West Coast Trend Show, had three collections at MRKET - 34 Heritage, Report Collection and SAXX Underwear. Ken has been in the business for 30 years and is always extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  Ken was very happy with the week and said, "it turned out to be a very successful show ... stores were leaving paper (more than the past two shows) and seemed upbeat about things ...". Amen to that. Ken also had Leather Island Belts by Bill Lavin at Project which he thought "was the best show in years".

English Laundry (one of my personal favs) looked great – clean lined, street elegant and colorful.

Color is big for Fall at MRKET – brights and burnts. Plaid and check are also popular.

Moda is largely a missy and better women’s ready-to-wear show with some contemporary incorporated.

Tami Smith from T. Smith & Co. showroom in LA is doing very well with the line, Analili.

Karen Anderson of KLA Showroom is also busy with Before & Again, Bibelot, and Cullen. (After show follow up: Karen thought that the foot traffic was a bit off from August. She is confident she will pick some new accounts from the show. Karen did not like the reconfiguration of the booths that made buyers walk through the men's show before getting to Moda. Karen, who had just got back from vacation in Australia, mentioned that she worked 3 Australians accounts.)

Cashmere is doing well. Bright and burnt colors continue to be popular. There seems to be a lot of dark blue mixed in with the usual blacks and greys for Fall.

I’m heading off to Curve and capsule next.

The Curve lingerie show last night at the MGM was absolutely brilliant. Instead of just models walking around in skimpies, they had a fully choreographed show complete with chorus numbers and a superb solo piece. The opening had 12 topless dancers in Grenadier bearskin hats doing an amazing wind-up doll routine, the superb solo routine was done behind and using rubber prison cell bars, and the finale had the dancers coming out again in the featured lingerie. Between the set pieces, the featured lingerie was showcased in routines to pumping dance music. It was one of best and most innovative fashion shows that I have seen. Curve will be putting it on again in August. Don’t miss it!

Foot traffic here has been steady. It is a bit early to say whether it has been better than last show. I’ll keep you posted.

Now time for some lunch …

Paul Brindley
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