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.
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.
Here is the official Liberty recap.
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.
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.
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".
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 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 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!
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.
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.
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
- very clean sharp styling in black and white
- embellishment and hardware
- 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.