Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Las Vegas Fashion Trade Shows Spring/Summer 2014 Review – August 2013

I doubled back to the Sands Expo on Day 2 of the Vegas fashion trade shows to check the activity at the new Liberty show.

Liberty, the new project of Project founder, Sam Ben-Avraham is a contemporary men's and dual gender apparel, footwear and accessories showcase. There was plenty of activity on the floor.

I spoke with Shelby Lee Goldberg, an independent agent who sells Christy's Hats in the southeast.  Shelby thought the buyer traffic was spotty but they had worked good quality retailers.
Christy's Hats new Brooklyn Hat Co range
Christy's Hats new Brooklyn Hat Co range
That seemed to be the general feedback for the entire week.  Business was coming to the booths in bunches, then there were long lulls.

At Liberty, I scouted the very cool men's collection, Goodlife.  I am hoping to work with the owner/designer, Chris Molnar to introduce the collection into Australia.

The agents and brands that I spoke with were very happy with Liberty.  They loved the look and feel (mostly uniform corrugated brown cardboard booths, large central open space/cafe with 25 foot high ramps to view the entire floor and hip tunes), and the quality of the buyers in attendance.

Also at the Sands, Agenda was busy all week.  It's Vegas debut must be considered a great success.  I spoke with John Faul from Red Zone Agency who represents the high quality American Needle cap label who said that they had "done tremendous business" at Agenda.

Let's move over to the Advanstar shows located at Mandalay Bay Convention Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center.  You can find the list and links here.

ENK VEGAS Women'sENK VEGAS - paul brindley consults

I got a mixed reaction from the women's brands and agents at ENK VEGAS Women's.

ENK had a lot to make up for after the TENTS debacle in February.  ENK was back in the main convention hall with Project and PoolTradeTrade. 

I got answers of "it was alright" and "it was OK" from many brands and agents.  Some, though, were very happy with the week.

Leah Oseran of Place Showroom was very upbeat, saying that they had had "a great week".  Place represents the highly successful Australian labels: Cameo, findersKEEPERS, Keepsake, and STYLESTALKER. Their large, centrally located booth area was very busy each time I walked past.

Australian label specialists, The SYDNY Showroom were showing their labels: bless'ed are the meek (their #1 seller that is blowing out on Revolve), and she was, Tigerlily, and the newest addition to their stable, ebony eve.  When I spoke with owners, Elizabeth and Jay Lewis, they had already worked with buyers from Nasty Gal, Free People, and Planet Blue, Southern Hippy and Fine & Funky amongst other quality boutiques.
The SYDNY Sales Manager, Jenny Wessell in bless'ed are the meek (on left) and Kylie Nasif, Account Sales in Tigerlily at ENK VEGAS
The SYDNY Sales Manager, Jenny Wessell in bless'ed are the meek (on left) and Kylie Nasif, Account Sales in Tigerlily at ENK VEGAS
Their new brand, ebony eve is designed and handmade in Melbourne and Bali.  The simple but forward collection, that is a favorite of fashion bloggers, has beautiful digital prints in silks and rayons in great shapes.

The SDYNY was located in the new Oasis area of ENK. Oasis is intended to highlight influential labels in an intimate white sheer curtained area with tasteful potted plants and furniture.  While the space looked great and was located at the end of the booth rows near the entrance to the show, I think it would have more impact located more centrally.

It sounds like ENK successfully made up for having to move the women's out to The TENTS in February.


The men's and unisex Project was massive as usual.  There was so much there is always hard to know where to start.

I particularly liked the new men's looks being shown by Kennington.  Kennington has been known for it's Hawaiian shirts since the late 50's.  As their website describes, they have had success through the decades by staying on trend with"... Rat Pack stylings in the late 50s and early 60s; surf-influenced looks of the 60s and beyond; Funky & Groovy Threads, Western patchworks and quilts, terry and pieced knits in the 70s; disco polyesters of the 80s."

Kennington have been working with their sales representatives, Brand Equity Showroom in Los Angeles, to create younger, slimmer looks in bright prints and vintage over-dyes.  They have launched a range of tees and tanks in the same eye-catching prints.  I loved their new bucket hats in all over print. Kennington's Director of Apparel Operations, Alan Walters told me that GQ Magazine described the new bucket hat as "the hat of the show".
Kennington's new range. Check out the bucket hat in the peace sign & dove print
Kennington's new range. Check out the bucket hat in the peace sign & dove print

Check out the hip Wakami woven bracelets.  I saw them at the Agenda show in Long Beach last month.  I have been wearing a sample of one of their basic designs for men, and it feels and looks great.  Wakami is a sustainable, socially responsible collaboration between designers and artist groups in Guatemala.  They were happy with their project debut.

THE TENTS @ Project

The large white tent is located on one of the parking lots of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
THE TENTS @ Project - paul brindley consults

The TENTS were home to a curated grouping of premier men’s and women’s advanced contemporary, premium denim and designer collections.  This is the participating brand list.  The inside looks like this:
The TENTS - paul brindley consults
The air-conditioned carpeted area has a very open feeling.  The white thick-walled booths are large.  All the brands in here are upscale.

I chatted with Nicole from Namaste Showroom who said they had been busy with all of their brands.  Chippewa, Rodd & Gunn, Vince and W.R.K had strong showings.


After the TENTS, I jumped one of the free shuttles that run from nearby over to the Las Vegas Convention Center for "MAGIC" - the ubiquitous moniker used by many for the week's events.

MAGIC didn't have the buzz of the February show.

I spoke with good friend and popular LA-based independent agent Bernadette Mopera.  Two of the collections that Bernadette represents were having particularly strong shows, Love Dove (formerly Knitted Dove) and the Spanish label, KLING.

KLING has branded stores in Spain.  Their collection is based around a full-store concept.  The fun printed and solid dresses, tops, skirts and sweaters are very well priced.  Check out the trenchcoat on the right in the shot below .... it wholesales for only $56!
A busy KLING booth at MAGIC
A busy KLING booth at MAGIC
Overall, Bernadette thought the buyer traffic was down from February but she was still very happy with the amount of business written.

Other MAGIC staples that had good shows were PJ Salvage and Anama.


I closed out Wednesday by taking a good look at Pool.  Pool had it's usual fun energy.  More than 100 emerging and independent contemporary brands showing the full range of clothing, shoes, bags, hats, jewelry, accessories of all kinds.  There was also an expanded cash and carry section of very interesting stuff.

A couple of new brands really stood out.

Ducks in a Row has a young vintage inspired look. I really liked their Spring prints.  Designed in San Francisco by Rebecca Leonard, the collection is still small but has garnered interest from Nasty Gal.  Kitson and Therapy are already carrying the collection.  They also produce a jewelry collection branded Hatchling's Jewelry.  Keep an eye out for the label.  I can see them in ENK very soon.
Ducks in a Row from San Francisco at Pool
Ducks in a Row from San Francisco at Pool

Gleeful Peacock from Tulsa, OK caught my eye.  The one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories are handmade in Tulsa.  It is a well worth a look.
Gleeful Peacock - paul brindley consults

One of my great Pool info sources Paula Rigoli, who has been doing the show for many years with Sprout watches, told me the buyer activity was well down from February. 


I thought the predominant looks of the week were:
  • tribal prints
  • tropical prints
  • the continuation of the 80's look
  • brights and neutrals
  • blue
  • very clean sharp styling in black and white
  • embellishment and hardware
  • geometrics
  • utility sportswear
I know some of these are contradictory but these are what came through to me.  Anything goes right now, and I like it.


My takeaway from the week is that buyers are still being cautious, probably more so than earlier this year.  This accounted for the choppy results for many brands last week.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the domestic and worldwide economies.

At home, when is the the Federal Reserve going to start tapering it's stimulus measures?  Can the economy stand on it's own? We have already seen some key economic indicators come in under expectations.  Things don't seem as robust as they did 3 months ago.

Abroad, continuing unrest in the Middle East is causing jitters among investors.  Syria is making people very nervous.  Many influential economies are not doing well.

I think all this uncertainty caused many buyers to postpone buying as deeply for Spring 14.  I think there was significant immediate goods buying.  The trend to short buying will continue.

So, I have to end this post on the same tone that I have for 4 years now.  We still don't know how the next 2 quarters will unfold.

I am taking an optimistic view.  Why? I'm not sure. Just a gut feeling.

Paul Brindley

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Las Vegas Fashion Trade Shows Spring/Summer 2014 Day 1 – August 19, 2013

It was a hot one in the desert for Day 1 of the Spring/Summer 2014 round of the Las Vegas Fashion Trade Shows.

I spent the day at the Sands Expo Convention Center at the Venetian Hotel.  The Sands is hosting the first edition of Modern Assembly.  Modern Assembly is a marketing collaboration between the AgendaAccessoriesTheShowCapsuleLibertyMRket, and Stitch apparel and accessory shows.  Modern Assembly is a direct challenge to the Advanstar trade shows at the Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Convention Center that are highlighted by Project, ENKVegas and WWDMAGIC.

Modern Assembly -
Modern Assembly -
Modern Assembly got off to a flying start.  There was a real buzz all day with lots of buyer leaving paper rather than just taking notes.

Libertythe new project of Project founder, Sam Ben-Avraham is a contemporary men's and dual gender apparel, footwear and accessories showcase that is the new headliner at Modern Assembly. It looks like this:
The standard booth look of Liberty main floor.
The standard booth look of Liberty main floor.

A mermaid at Agenda.
An awesome promo by Caviar Cartel -
An awesome promo by Caviar Cartel -

A very cool look at Capsule.
The main floor at Capsule
The main floor at Capsule

Stitch, MRket and Accessories The Show were in a new configuration but there were many familiar brands.
MRket - paul brindley consults

It was great to see solid activity at CURVENVthe swim and lingerie showcase.  I visit CURVE every show but must have been choosing the quiet times to walk the booths.  This time there was plenty of buyer activity.

One of my former clients, Wood Underwear, was exhibiting at CURVE for the first time having previously shown at Project. Terresa Zimmerman, the owner/designer of Wood was having a great day.  Wood had a strong showing at the recent CURVENY, and the momentum is continuing here.  Wood is currently in 12 Equinox stores nationwide.  At the Curve shows, Terresa has worked with buyers from Blue Collar in Buffalo, NY, Under U 4 Men in Portland, OR, Birdies in Kansas City, MO and City Drawers in Belfast, ME, to name a few.

Wood Underwear at CURVENV
Wood Underwear at CURVENV
Terresa finds the CURVE trade shows to be more personal and focused than Project.  Wood doesn't not get lost in the crowd compared to the massive Project show.  Terresa is also impressed with the personal attention she gets from the CURVE staff, and has had success with the marketplace option on the CURVE website.

Now, off to Project and MAGIC, as well as a buying trawl through the OFFPRICE for some bargains for Z Fabrique.

Paul Brindley

Friday, August 16, 2013

Swim Collective Trade Show, Spring/Summer 2104 - August 12-13, 2013

After 2 weeks vacation immersed in the majesty of California's and Oregon's national parks and wonders, then indulging in the Anderson Valley and Russian River wine districts, it was back to work on Monday with a visit to the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of the Swim Collective trade show at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach.
Standard booths in beautiful abode-style convention rooms
Standard booths in beautiful abode-style convention rooms at Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach
The semi-annual 2-day show is held in January and August.  It was bigger this season with nearly 220 exhibitors, up from about 190 brands in January.
The exhibiting brands are a mix of established and emerging.  You can review a full list of exhibiting brands here.

Swim Collective concentrates primarily on women's swimsuits with some accessories.  Swim Collective is now the only swimwear trade show of note on the west coast since the demise of the ASR show in San Diego in 2010 (that's if you don't include the ISAM and Curve trade shows in Las Vegas).  Many brands see the show as an excellent opportunity to reach the west coast buyers that may not travel to the swim shows in Florida or Las Vegas.

One of my clients, Nathan Lodge of Nathan Paul Swimwear was showing his sexy 'Getaway' collection for men and women. Nathan, who hails from sunny Melbourne (Aussie readers will get that) has had an excellent response to the collection from US retailers.
Nathan Paul Swimwear - paul brindley consults
Nathan Paul Swimwear at Swim Collective
The marquee Australian brand, Tiger Lily, had a strong showing.  Elizabeth Lewis, the owner of The SYDNY Showroom and distributor of Tiger Lily in the US, told me, "We had a great show. It was a lovely atmosphere, and very easy to do business."  The SYDNY worked with buyers from SwellVida SoleilIshine365.comDiscovery groupLargo Drive to name just a few.

I really liked the brand new Costa Mesa label, House of Au+Ora.  This was their trade show debut.  Co-owners and designers Lindsay Rochelle and Miranda Lynne have used sustainably produced Italian fabrics and recycled fishing nets to create a fresh island holiday inspired collection that is produced right in LA.
Owner/designers, Lindsay Rochelle & Miranda Lynne (center)
Au+ORA Owner/designers, Lindsay Rochelle & Miranda Lynne (center)
Nicole Kegley, the PR/Marketing Director at Tavik was very happy with the show, saying it had been "awesome".  Tavik had seen buyers from ZapposTilly'sDianne's, and the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.  Tavik also produces men's lifestyle Ready To Wear, and Apple phone and laptop accessories.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater's girlfriend, Kalani Miller was showing her collection. Mikoh.

Fair trade produced accessories collection, Mar Y Sol was being shown by their west coast agent, Gabriela Schultz of Adorn Thyself Showroom.  This unique collection of stylish bags, hats and pillows is produced in Madagascar using traditional craftwork, sustainable materials, organically tanned leathers and responsibly sourced raw materials.

Want a pair of flip- flops that look fantastic, are made with recycled materials, and give to a great cause?  I've got them for you.  They're call Hari Mari.  The clean look is eye-catching, and the recycled rubber and foam sole is especially comfortable.  Only 18 months in the market, Hari Mari is carried by 125 stores worldwide - check our their full store list.  They are big in Japan (everyone sing along).  Plus for every pair purchased, Hari Mari donates $3 to support kids battling pediatric cancer.  If you want to carry the line in your store, call their wholesale agents in LA, Namaste Showroom.

I'm off to Las Vegas on Monday morning for the Spring/Summer 2014 circus of trade shows.  I'll be blogging daily and updating during the day via social media.  This is going to be a very interesting week.  The debut of the new Liberty trade show at the Sands Expo is going to be a game changer.  Stay tuned.

Paul Brindley