Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week Fall II/Holiday, 9-13 June 2013 - Who Knew?

You would have been hard pressed to find anyone that was banking on strong business prior to last week's Fall II/Holiday Los Angeles Market Week.  As well as being one of the slowest market weeks of the year, things haven't been exactly booming this year in fashion retail.  Then again, there hasn't been a hint of a boom around these parts since 2007.  Many people were expecting more out of 2013.  Unfortunately, it became obvious early on that we were in for another flat year.

But talk about a pleasant surprise when agents and showrooms reported better than expected buying activity, particularly on Monday and Tuesday.

The California Market Center was quiet as usual.  I'm not sure why brands choose to do the SELECT apparel show or transit shoe show that are held in the building.  I must just be there at the wrong time market after market after market.  The 4th and 5th floor contemporary showrooms were not busy.  Not helping things, in past few months, the 5th floor has lost anchor contemporary showrooms, Rande Cohen Showroom and Liza Stewart Inc. to the The New Mart.

D&A Show at The New Mart - paul brindley consultsThe New Mart showed signs of buyer life. Though the notoriously difficult to get elevators during market week were coming quickly, there were buyers in most showrooms.

Designers & Agents booth show on the 3rd floor of The New Mart reported a very busy Monday with activity tapering off on Tuesday and Wednesday.  There were 48 booths exhibiting this June which was up slightly from last year.

The Cooper Design Space had a good buzz going.  The Cooper building is the 11-floor center of contemporary fashion showrooms in Los Angeles so it is expected that it would attract the most buying activity.

The new improved Brand Assembly show debuted on the 11th floor event space of the Cooper building. About 30 brands were featured in open space booths in the naturally lit, bright, white space.  Previously, the show was held in two spaces on the Mezzanine floor of the building.

Brand Assembly at Cooper Building - paul brindley consults
Apparel News quoted Hillary France, co-founder of Brand Assembly on the need for an additional showcase during Market Week, “There’s a need for people who don’t have a permanent showroom or corporate office.  It’s a fresh perspective.  It has more of a shopping environment; it’s more inviting for buyers.”

Brand Assembly has recently launched an edition in Paris in March.

Again from Apparel News, “We’ll be going again [to Paris] in late September/early October,” France said. “We had 13 [exhibitors] and maxed out the space. [In LA] we had 27 brands, and we hope to expand to 40 for October.”

They plan to have 11-12 exhibitors in Paris.  The show will be held at a space in the Marais at the Preview Agency, a fashion and lifestyle agency.

Hillary told me on Tuesday afternoon that by then, they had had a busy 125 buyers through the show on Monday and 100 on Tuesday. The impressive list of key retailers attending included:
  • Nordstrom
  • Stacey Todd
  • Elyse Walker
  • Forward by Elyse Walker
  • Satine
  • NastyGal
  • Need Supply
  • Aris Laguna Beach
  • Heist Venice Beach
Elizabeth Lewis, owner of The SYDNY showroom had been previously doing Brand Assembly's Mezzanine show. When I spoke to Elizabeth on Tuesday, she was very happy with the quality of buyers that she had worked. The SYDNY represent the Australian brands, blessed are the meekand she wasTigerlilySamantha Wills.

The takeaway from the week was that although store owners and buyers are still keeping a tight rein on their buying budgets, many believed this Holiday market was year over year improvement from last year.  It is still all about price point.

With the fashion industry wandering through a new brand world of consumer expectation after 5 years of economic difficulty and the changes being forced upon the industry by ever-evolving technologies, it is difficult to predict what a healthy industry will look like.  Any incremental improvements like last week have to be considered good news.

It is going to be very interesting to see if the cautious optimism of last week translates to the Spring/Summer 13-14 trade shows that start in Las Vegas in August.

Paul Brindley

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome home: ‘Made in USA’ on the rise – NBC

Here is more "good news" on the "Made in USA" front.  I have predicted the return of apparel manufacturing to the US as one of the consequences of the now 5 years of economic downtown in the US as outlined in the article.

More and more designers are doing their best to keep their manufacture on-shore.  Apart from the convenience of working in the roughly the same timezones, in the same language, and under the same rules of law, quality control is more assured and turnarounds are quicker which allow longer selling cycles.

And in spite of the federal government's and industry groups' reluctance to go on an all-out "Buy USA" program as they have in other countries, local consumers want US-made for economic, social and patriotic reasons.

International buyers love "Made in USA" labels in their apparel.  They always have  and still do.

So to all budding and established designers out there, if you can fit "Made in USA" into your price points, do it!  Eat that extra bit of margin as advertising, marketing, consumer goodwill or wherever it makes sense in your budget.

Paul Brindley