There was plenty of buzz at last week's Los Angeles Fashion Market Week for Spring14.
What is Market Week? It's when the seasonal business of fashion happens in the showrooms and trade shows of the main wholesale centers: the California Market Center (CMC), The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, The Lady Liberty Building, The Gerry Building and other venues in the Fashion District that is centered on the intersection of 9th and Los Angeles Streets in downtown LA.
This is not the glitz and glamour of the fashion business. This is not Fashion Week, it's Market Week. The runway shows are done, the cocktail parties are over, it's now down to the business of buying and selling the fashions that you see in stores and online starting in early 2014.
The Spring market in October and Fall market in March are the two main weeks of the year. It is expected that there will be plenty of activity, and I'm happy to report that last week there was.
An expanded schedule of trade events was staggered from Sunday, October 13 through Thursday the 17th.
The CMC and Gerry Building showrooms and temporary trade shows held market from Sunday to Wednesday. The New Mart, the Cooper Building, and the Lady Liberty ran theirs from Monday to Thursday.
The temporary trade shows were:
- Designers and Agents on the 3rd floor of The New Mart
- Select at the CMC
- Coeur and Brand Assembly in the bright, white 11th floor space in The Cooper Building
This Market Week saw the launch of the new menswear-focused Los Angeles Men’s Market on the 4th floor's Area 4. LA Men's Market is a collaboration between four of the most prominent LA men's showrooms: The NTWRK Agency, The Park, The Foundation, and Flagship Agency.
LA Men's Market
The 2-day event ran Monday and Tuesday. As well as the four founding showrooms, brands showed in temporary (because they are unused) showrooms on the 4B side of the CMC, known as Area 4.
Area 4 is permanent home to some top quality showrooms such as, NTWRK, Derelicte, and Market, and was supposed to be a focus of men's contemporary and street/lifestyle fashion. The 4B floor was redone a few years back with a staircase cut through from the women's contemporary 5B but due to the economic times, the concept has not taken off. Apart from some excellent, mainly men's showrooms, it is a bit of a ghost town. But it's a great space for a temporary show like LA Men's Market.
It sounds like the attempt to focus buyers worked. Transworld Business quoted The NTWRK President and LA Men’s Market co-organizer Kellen Roland as saying, "It was a huge success. We saw triple the amount of buyers we’ve seen in previous men’s markets. I believe we accomplished our goal of bringing men’s market back as a viable place for brands and buyers to do business.”
These things take time but if the first go-around was such as success then the concept is here to stay and can only grow as other brands sign on.
Designers and Agents
The D&A show on the 3rd floor of the New Mart was full. There were about 100 booths showing 150 brands.
Monday was a particularly busy with business tapering off over Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some of the highlights for me were:
Christy's Hats new range of crochet hats for men and women.
Sales Manager Ben DeLuca is having a strong Spring selling season. Many buyers are still wanting Fall goods and ordering closer to delivery (I heard this from a number of agents during the week). The new crochet range is booking well along with Panamas for men. Ben sees an overall improvement in the market from earlier this year.
Calleen Cordero Designs' semi-precious stone, metal, recycled textile and leather cuffs and bangles for women. Made in LA.
The colorful recycled material and vegetable dyed bags of Italy's Essent-ials.
The bags come in 2 sizes for $21 and $25 wholesale with the vegetable dyed at $28. Some have adjustable straps that can be worn over the shoulder or as a sling. The material is sturdy and great to the touch. This should be a winner in the market.
Pyrrha's reclaimed sterling silver or bronze jewelry that is hand cast from 18th and 19th century wax seals, Victorian keys, and use semi-precious facetted stones. Each piece is handmade in Vancouver.
Cooper Design Space
Next it was off to the Cooper to check out the two shows on the 11th floor, the accessories show Coeur and contemporary women's Brand Assembly.
The lobby at the Cooper was bustling and the elevators were busy and full. I bumped into Brad Jaco, the owner of Namaste Showroom. Brad was having his best market "for a long time", and was seeing lots of new stores.
The 11th floor is a 20,000 sq. ft. white space with a high ceiling and floor to ceiling windows which flood the space with natural light which makes for a perfect trade show venue.
For the first time, Brand Assembly and Coeur were sharing the space. Exhibitors were pleased with the increased traffic that was generated by having both run concurrently.
Meredith Hazan, the owner of the jewelry and accessories showroom, Maritime Showroom, who has done all 5 of the LA Coeur shows, told me she saw buyers that she wouldn't have otherwise seen.
The very contemporary women's trade show Brand Assembly continues to flourish with each iteration. Exhibitors increased to 39 booths and 60 brands.
Hilary France, the Co-Founder and CEO, was very happy with the activity and vibe of the show. "I love the positive, light filled space. The energy between the different exhibitors is very positive as many know each other well. We've had great synergy with Coeur. There are no crossover brands and there is a value add for buyers being exposed to new brands."
Nearly 500 quality retailers attended including: Saks, Intermix, Shopbop, Bergdorf's, Kitson, Scoop, Ron Herman, Revolve, Elyse Walker.
With the expansion of the show, increasing interest from brands and the dedicated following from sought-after buyers, I asked Hilary about her plans for the future. "We will keep the show exclusive, curated and selective. We have fantastic brands that play well off each other. We are planning a New York show for February '14, and possibly going back to Paris for a show in March".
Elizabeth Lewis, owner of The SYDNY showroom who has been doing Brand Assembly since it's start-up on the Mezzanine of The Cooper, very happy with the quality of buyers that she had worked. The SYDNY represent the Australian brands, blessed are the meek, and she was, Tigerlily, Ebony Eve.
I asked Elizabeth about the benefits of doing Brand Assembly after buyers had seen the collections in Las Vegas and New York. Elizabeth said that she gets to work west coast stores that don't do Vegas or NY. She sees buyers from all along the west coast, the south west and Hawaii.
I spoke to Megan Flynn of Black Halo, who have recently taken sales in house. Megan had been very busy working some of the accounts mentioned above and as well as MGM and a noticeable amount of Colorado accounts. I met Megan through Boxie designer and my bestie, Tracy Engelien who had worked with Megan in a previous life.
Project Runway winner, Mila Hermanovski was having great success with her own label, Mila Hermanovski.
Mila has had strong sell-through in her second season. She is known for her leggings which have become popular with the bigger accounts.
Bi-coastal showroom, The Out Crowd were showing Australian brands: Shakuhachi, Friend of Mine and Tallow.
Another collection that stood out (and one of Hilary's personal favs) was Nonoo. Designed by Fashion Group International’s Rising Star award winner, Misha Nonoo, this very wearable collection blends classic styles and strong structures with an eye-catching color palette and fun, sportswear inspired prints.
On the Couer side of things, I loved the sterling silver and natural un-dyed gems and crystals used by Joseph Brooks in his incredible jewelry collection.
I see a lot of semi-precious stone jewelry on my rounds but Joseph Brooks stands out. Joseph uses the energy and beauty of the stones to create pieces from stone and bone prayer bracelets to hand cut, pointed stone pendants that can also be used as healing pendulums to belt buckles and cufflinks. Joseph has a star studded celebrity following.
The general consensus was that the Spring14 LA Market Week was a big success. The momentum of the trade show circuit that started in Las Vegas in August and has run through New York continued on to LA. We've had the Snap and Crackle of the Spring selling season, now let's see if we get the Pop at retail when these styles hit the floors in January.