Monday, February 4, 2013

US West Coast Fashion Trade Show Wrap, January 2013

With a busy trade show January already behind us and Fall/Winter13 collections debuting in Las Vegas in February in front of us, let’s take a look at the trade season so far.

Agenda is a streetwear, surf, skate and fashion show mostly for men that was held on Friday and Saturday, January 4–5 at my adopted hometown Long Beach Convention Center in lovely downtown Long Beach, California.  All is revealed in my post, 2013 off to a cautious start for US Fashion Industry.

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week
January 14-17 saw an expected quiet market week in the downtown fashion district.  Collections were showing new Summer styles and writing immediates goods for fill-in.  There were bursts of buyer traffic in the different buildings.

Designers and Agents
The D&A trade show on the 3rd floor of The New Mart was steady on Monday.  As usual the show was small compared with the peak times of the year with only 33 booths showing 35 brands.

D&A vet, Ben De Luca of Christys’ London hats had already worked Fred Segal, LA Style and when I caught up with him on Monday afternoon.

Gabriela Shultz of Adornthyself Showroom was showing Fluxus and American Colors by Alex Lehr.  Gabriela was very happy with Monday.  She had met her expected order totals in one day having worked retailers, Girl Boy Girl, Laguna Supply, Jill Roberts and Cupcake Clothing.

Whitney Gardner of Nyali Showroom in the Cooper Building was showing 4 of her lines.  Whitney said they were having a great market, writing lots of immediates.  For the first time, they were doing some cash and carry, moving some past season inventory of En Shalla.

The New Mart
The New Mart building in general had some steady traffic in spurts on Monday and Tuesday.  The upper floors were busier on Monday afternoon and lower floors seemed to have more activity on Tuesday.

Tami Smith of T. Smith & Co on the 10th floor was busy on Monday but things had quietened down by the time I was in the showroom on Tuesday afternoon.

The 4th, 5th & 6th floors had plenty of foot traffic on Tuesday.  Showrooms like La Rue, Charlotte Tarantola Leila Ross and Joken Style were doing good business.  Eme Mizioch at Joken Style had buyers in from, and

The Cooper Building
Like the New Mart, the Cooper Building had it’s moments of activity.

While generally experiencing slow traffic, Brad Jaco, owner of the highly regarded Namaste Showroom had seen buyers from along the west coast, such as Wrights, American Rag, Shop Adorn and Tumbleweed.  Brad is excited by Wood Underwear, a hip, new line of men’s trunks and boxer briefs that I had referred to him.  Wood is creating some serious buzz.  Buyers were also drawn to Tulisan, a collection of handmade, limited-edition illustrated prints that are applied to bags, totes and household accessories out of Indonesia.

Ellen Cope of Lefties Showroom thought the week progressed well for them.  "Buyers were filling in for Summer", commented Ellen, "We built momentum during the week".  Lefties had seen buyers from Ron Herman, Revolve, Fine & Funky and Nasty Gal.

The California Market Center
The contemporary floors of the CMC were very quiet when I was there.  Paige at Showroom Five21 told me that Tuesday had been OK.  The showrooms on the 4th floor were deserted.

Swim Collective
Unfortunately, I was too sick to attend Swim Collective.  Apparel News described the show as solid:
“The mood was upbeat and productive at Swim Collective, held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach, Calif., Jan. 23–24.  On the first day, most returning brands had appointments booked back-to-back to take early reorders for Spring and unveil new Summer deliveries.  Key specialty swim stores in attendance
included Diane’s Beachwear, Molly Brown’s, Jack’s Surfboards, Tilly’s and HSS Huntington Surf and Sport.”

West Coast Trend Show
I paid my first visit to the West Coast Trend Show which is a hotel suite based trade show held at the Embassy Suites LAX North in January and August.  The ran from Saturday, January 26 to Monday, January 28 – Saturday is appointment only attendance.

The show is owned and operated by independent men’s sales representative, Ken Haruta.  Ken started West Coast Trend as a better men’s contemporary showcase four years ago.  The show is getting bigger each time, and definitely trending more contemporary.  Ken has been fantastic to me over the past couple of years by providing referrals to his vendors for my clients who are looking for sale representation.

The show takes over floors 4 to 6 of the atrium style Embassy Suites. Ken arranges for all the rooms to be used by collections or buyers creating an exclusive environment. The 7th floor is for buyer accomodation.
Wood Underwear
Brad Jaco from Namaste Showroom had 4 lines in his suite.  The above mentioned Wood Underwear was showing new leg lengths in boxer briefs and new cotton viscose tees in 8 colors. Wood had attracted attention from Stitched Lifestyle in the The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, and Boca Man in Pacific Palisades.

Brad shared the room with Sid Stumacher who was showing the brilliant sunglasses collection, Randolph Engineering.  Like Rayban, Randolph were originally made for the US Air Force.  The sleek styling and quality construction are evident as soon as you try them on.  At retail price points from $130 – $200, they are incredible value for money.  If I didin’t already have 8 pairs of sunglasses, I’d buy a pair today.

It was good to catch up with the NZ collection, Rodd & Gunn.  I always catch up with them in Vegas during the trade show weeks.  The collection continues it’s contemporary evolution.

I was very impressed by the vibe and activity of the show.  The vendors that I spoke with were impressed by the quality of the buyers.

The next West Coast Trend Show will be August 3-5.

It is only 2 weeks until the Fall Winter 13 edition of the Las Vegas fashion trade shows.  I’ll be there as usual.  It is going to be very interesting to see how busy it is.  Will we finally see the industry pull out of this 5 year funk?  Or will the falling debt ceiling crush any optimism?

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults