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 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.

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 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 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.

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 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. 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.

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.

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