Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nonprofits: On the Go with Heads in the Cloud

Following is the unedited version of my article for the October 13-26 edition of the Long Beach Business Journal.
A PDF of the published article is included underneath.
Nonprofits: On the Go with Heads in the Cloud 
Most nonprofits are constantly striving to do more with the same level of resources – if they are lucky. Studies show that in many cases they are having to do more with less.
New technologies and the rise of social media have provided low-cost tools for nonprofits to outreach, spread their message and cultivate stakeholders and supporters. The latest in cost saving innovations are mobile technology and cloud computing.
In April of this year, the Pew Research Center reported that … 64% of Americans adults own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.

The worldwide usage of mobile devices outstripped desktop and laptop computer usage during 2014. All the statistics reveal that mobile search, shopping, customer engagement and communication continue to trend past static device usage.
We have been told for a while now that the future is mobile. Welcome to the future.
So there you have it, the vast majority of your customers, clients, partners, funding sources, influencers, mavens, and the public at large are walking around and using their tiny computers as they go about their day, and keeping them close when they are not. The portal to the whole spectrum of your audience is open and accessible whenever and wherever. Your audience is mobile so should you be.
What are some strategies for “going mobile”?
  • Make sure you have a mobile responsive website. When a website is responsive, the layout and content responds or adapts based on the size of the screen it’s presented on. A responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re reading it on.
  • Provide a way for your clients to sign up for courses and events or to donate through their mobile devices via a mobile optimized online form or third party service like Eventbrite.
  • Design your emails and marketing collateral with the mobile viewer in mind. Will people be reading it on the phone, or is it something to be sent via email as a mobile download? Don’t try and do too much. Keep fonts large, sentences short, use single columns and get the recipient to click to your website for more information.
  • Try a text message fundraising drive. An article on the Nonprofit Hub website states that the Human Rights Campaign found that text message subscribers are 2.5 times more likely to donate than a non-text message subscriber. The Humane Society of the United States found that members who received a text message reminding them to donate were more likely to give online by 77 percent. I have no experience with SMS fundraising campaigns so do your due diligence on infrastructure, security and practices.
  • In managing your nonprofit, mobile technology is allowing team members to remain connected wherever they are. This results in more time servicing with clients and networking with donors and less time stuck behind a desk. Depending on the sensitivity of the organization’s information, put in place policies and practices for mobile communication by voice, text or email.
  • Ensuring that your communications, systems and practices are mobile friendly sends the message (excuse the pun) to your stakeholders and supporters that your nonprofit is a professional organization that is responsive and sensitive to current trends.
What is cloud computing? What does it mean that “something is in the cloud’?
Cloud computing means that instead of housing software, applications and files on your computer or your own server, they are hosted by someone else online or “in the cloud”. You gain access from anywhere using the internet. Gmail is a good example. Office 365 is another program that offered as a cloud based subscription. You don’t need your own servers or storage.
So what are the advantages?
  • Portability and convenience – you can access your files and programs from anywhere using an internet connection. Team members can access files from home, on the road or in the office. Work flow is increased by easy file sharing. Team communication is sped up with secure messaging programs.
  • Cost savings – this is a big selling point for the nonprofit world. There is little IT cost when using the cloud. There is no server. Installs, upgrades, back-ups and other maintenance are done for you. You are not paying to power your own network infrastructure.
  • Security – all your files and programs are saved off site. If there is a system crash at the office or one of your computers fails, everything is safely stored and ready to be downloaded.
  • Environmentally friendly – with cloud computing, you only use the server space you need which decreases your carbon footprint and can result in at least 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using on-site servers.
  • Low cost options – there are many low cost, no-cost solutions like OneDrive, Dropbox, Hightail, Gmail, Office 365 subscription service, VaultPress.
How about the disadvantages:
  • No internet connection, no access – this is a problem. Make sure you have a proven and reliable internet provider.
  • Security and privacy – many people are frightened that their information is not secure. Cloud services providers have made security their top priority. Make sure you have strong password protection.
  • Incompatibility of some programs – some applications that don’t run well in the cloud or need significant conversion to migrate. For example, certain systems might rely on local file storage. Fortunately, many cloud providers assist with migration.
If you are a little jumpy about this new amorphous cloud universe, don’t go all in. Pick and choose which cloud based solutions you are comfortable with. That’s what I have done. The more I have used cloud services, the more comfortable I have become with giving up important emails and documents that I used to hold tight on my laptop.
Cloud computing solutions are maturing and improving all the time. As the technology continues to evolve, costs will continue to fall and reliability and security standards will improve. I am certain that in the future, operating in the cloud will be as routine as all the other technological advances that used to bamboozle many of us.
There is an old Latin saying, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, which translates to “Times change, and we change with them”. We have changed a lot with the technological advances of the past 20 years.
The portability, flexibility and cost savings of mobile technology and cloud computing will ensure they are two of the most profound and lasting changes so far. They have the potential to relieve nonprofits of the time, energy and costs that can be redirected towards their irreplaceable missions that assist so many in need in our communities.
Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Los Angeles Market Week Spring16 – Some Like It Hot

Barry O at Venue Tradeshow at The REEF
The relentless tropical heat beat down on LA for last week’s Spring 2016 Los Angeles Fashion Market, which set up shop in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District from October 12–15.
The hot weather must have kept some buyers away because there was a distinct drop in the usual activity and energy this time of year. Business was as sluggish as sales of Fall merchandise must be at present. I can’t imagine buyers have much spare cash to be throwing down for their Spring orders. Apparel News reported that “… some buyers had less money available for Spring orders and others were scrambling to fill inventories with warm-weather apparel.”
It doesn’t help local sales agents that the LA Spring Market is at the tail end of the Spring selling season. Vegas was 2 months ago. The NY shows were last month. With any semblance of Fall yet to materialize, buying budgets must be drying up like a Californian river.
The show must go on and it did in the showrooms of the California Market Center, The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, the Gerry Building and the Lady Liberty building — as well as at temporary trade shows Designers and Agents (New Mart), Coeur (at a new location at the Alexandria Ballrooms at 5th & Spring), Brand Assembly (Cooper), L.A. Men’s MarketShape and Select (all at the CMC).
Designers and Agents was a bit light on exhibitors. They usually completely fill the 3rd Floor event space. Friend and generous bestower of complimentary hats, Ben De Luca of Brooklyn Hat Co. thought Monday was solid but the Tuesday I was there was significantly slower. He wasn’t holding out hope for much better on Wednesday.
The classy Brand Assembly filled the bright, white 11th floor event space of the Cooper. Brand Assembly has swelled to 112 brands. The contemporary women’s showcase has doubled in size over the past 12 months.
The SYDNY Showroom showing their all Australian roster at Brand Assembly
The SYDNY Showroom showing their all Australian roster at Brand Assembly
The LA Men’s Market show at the 10th floor event space in the CMC has grown into a mini Agenda. This is a show to keep an eye on. It was the only space of the entire week that had some real consistent buzz going.
The new Shape show for contemporary active and lifestyle brands had some good quality labels like NUX and Bhujang Style but very little foot traffic. There is definitely scope for a showcase like Shape but they need to get it off the 13th floor of the CMC and put it somewhere that buyers will actually visit.
I did spot a gem at Select on the ground floor of the CMCLA’s own Lesebi was showing waterproof handmade nylon ankle bracelets produced by women in Mayan communities in Cancun, Mexico. Lesebi has partnered with Mayan Ook (ook is the Maya word for ‘foot’) which commissions and sells hand woven and embroidered garments made by local women from the state of Quintana Roo’s Mayan Zone. The Mayan Zone is formed by small rural communities located in the municipalities of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and José María Morelos near the Tulum region.
Lesebi ankle bracelets
Lesebi ankle bracelets – $12 wholesale, minimum order of 5
On Thursday and Friday of last week, Venue Tradeshow tried to eke out the last of the buyers’ seasonal budgets at The REEF space in the LA Mart on Broadway and Washington.
Venue Tradeshow
Venue is a showcase for emerging young contemporary, street and lifestyle labels. I like the concept. I like the artwork that decorates the space. But the space is too cavernous for the thin spreading of brands. Miles Canares, the owner/producer is a young and enthusiastic impressario who is genuinely supportive of his exhibitors. I would recommend he find a tighter spce closer to the heart of the fashion district to concentrate the energy of the show and maximize the opportunities of attracting buyers.
more Venue artwork
more Venue artwork

Paul Brindley
Principal Adviser
paul brindley consults

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Melange Live: Where Fashion Meets Technology

Melange Live co-founders, Tom Keefer & Steve Brown open the two day event
Melange Live co-founders, Tom Keefer & Steve Brown open the two day event
Last month I attended the inaugural Melange Live forum in the New Mart building in the downtown Los Angeles fashion district.
Melange was a two day event that created a space for innovators, technologists and fashion visionaries to come together and kibbitz about the raidly expanding nexus between fashion and technology.
There was a steady flow of panel discussions and presentations by entrepreneurs, punctuated by small group side sessions, general networking and interactions with companies showing their wares in booths.
Hadar Paz, CEO of Powerfront Inc. presenting on the 'Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing'.
Hadar Paz, CEO of Powerfront Inc. presenting on the ‘Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing’.
Hadar Paz, CEO of the Australian owned e-commmerce provider, Powerfront Inc. presented on the ‘Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing’. Hadar was highlighting his real-time customer engagement program, Inside.
Darren Goble, Inside’s Customer Success Manager (and fellow Antipodean), explained Inside as “allowing brands and retailers the ability to ‘see’ current online visitors and view their history and behavior in real-time. Inside features an expanding suite of functions that are based on Big Data collected for each individual visitor. A visually impressive back end graphic interface gives customer service and sales staff an engaging 3D live view of website traffic and the customers they are serving right now; and features functionality that can track customer behavior, identify opportunities and proactively engage with potential customers at the right time and in the right context to help increase sales conversion.”
Hadar said of the Melange Live experience, “Very excited to share our technology and we were really encouraged with the response the platform received. We know Inside is a perfect fit with fashion. For the first time, online businesses can now apply long established bricks-and-mortar sales and customer service methodologies into an online environment and dramatically help bridge the disparity gap between online and offline sales conversion percentages.”
I had an interesting conversation with Brian Dainis, Founder & President of Philadelphia based web design and app development company,Curotec. Brian told of Philly’s push to become a technology hub. The  burgeoning tech corridor is centered around North 3rd Street, now pithily renamed, N3RD Street. At this rate, the entire country will be a tech hub. Not a bad thought actually.
Tom's Shoes panel: Sarah Tabbush, Dir. Social Media, Tom's; Liz Heller, Co-Founder, Screenspaces; Ann Lawrence, co-Founder, Pink51.com
Tom’s Shoes panel: Sarah Tabbush, Dir. Social Media, Tom’s; Liz Heller, Co-Founder, Screenspaces; Ann Lawrence, co-Founder, Pink51.com
I particularly enjoyed the Tom’s Shoes panel that focused on consciousness consumerism. I got into the apparel world in 2000 working forWildlife Works, one of the pioneers of consumer driven conservation. Wildlife Works’ production of organic fabric clothing has saved untold human and animal lives, and protected vast swathes of the globe over the past 20 years.
Day 1 ended with networking drinks and nibbles.
Jim Palmer, the owner of Malibu Vineyards, was pouring the best wine I have tasted this side of Santa Maria.
JoJo Bowen of Bowen’s Whiskey was literally keeping everyone’s spirits up with her excellent small batch American whiskey from the wilds of Bakersfield. Who knew?
I thought attendance on both days was a little thin. However, it was the first of a proposed bi-annual series of Melange events. It was well worth attending. The organizers have given themselves every chance of pulling more of a crowd by wisely situating the forum in the center of the fashion district rather than some trendy domicile. The substance over form approach is refreshing. With so much scope of technology in the apparel industry, I expect the event to grow as the word gets out.
For additional information, I have reposted the California Apparel News review below.

 Apparel News logo


Fashion Meet Tech at Melange Live Event at The New Mart

OMNI-CHANNEL PANEL: Lauren Croke, director of Web and e-commerce for Eileen Fisher; Suzanne Hader, chief marketing officer for Halston; Alex Golshan, vice president of e-commerce/omnichannel at BCBGMaxAzria group; and moderator George Shaw, head of R&D for RetailNext
The worlds of fashion and technology merged at the launch of Melange Live, a conference that explored new developments in e-commerce, mobile/digital payments, brand building using social media and new innovations in wearable technology.
“It has become a mobile-first world,” said Tom Keefer, who cofounded and organized the Sept. 16–17 event at The New Mart in downtown Los Angeles. Tom Keefer is a Los Angeles–based youth-marketing specialist who has worked with Newsweek Intl.LA GearK-Swiss,Mattel and the BBC Worldwide Global Licensing Team.
In recent years, the term “omni-channel” has become the buzzword for retailers looking to merge their bricks-and-mortar, online and mobile platforms. But as consumers become more comfortable navigating and shopping on these platforms, the distinction between them has become blurred.
Omni-channel, George Shaw, head of R&D for RetailNext, said, is “really the latest name for shopping.”
Shaw moderated a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of omni-channel retailing, featuring panelists Lauren Croke, director of Web and e-commerce for Eileen Fisher; Suzanne Hader, chief marketing officer for Halston; and Alex Golshan, vice president of e-commerce/omni-channel at BCBGMaxAzria group.
“When we look at how things have changed over the last 10 to 15 years and where things are in terms of instant gratification, the younger generation, that’s all they know,” Golshan said.
The challenge is getting different departments with different procedures, or legacy systems, in place to cooperate.
“The customer doesn’t care about your legacy systems,” Golshan said. “At the end of the day, you don’t want to get gridlocked on who gets the sale credit for which channel. If you have a customer who wants something, you should be able to pull from your wholesale bucket. You need an executive team that is focused on doing the right thing for the customer.”
For many customers, the biggest challenge is finding the right product in the correct size. Manufacturers and retailers need access to real-time inventory in order to meet that demand.
“With Eileen Fisher the bottom line hasn’t always been our driver,” Croke said. “Eileen has always been about solving customers’ problems. We need to break down the hurdles between visibility and inventory.”
What’s needed is a cultural change within organizations and within the inventory, Golshan said.
“You never want to have a situation where you’re sold out in one channel and not allowed to tap into other channels,” he said.
The panel also discussed the challenge of price discrepancy across retail channels.
“There are specific times of year [for example, Black Friday] when you know you’re going to be outpriced by some of your retailers,” Hader said.
“Our approach to omni-channel is really content-based,” she said, explaining that mobile information can be “a ride-along” to a consumer’s in-store shopping experience. Hader said Halston strives to provide customers with “a compelling second-screen presentation” by giving them news about celebrities wearing Halston or offering wardrobe advice and brand information.
“For us, a big focus is blurring the line between digital and physical,” Croke said. “When I started it was how to take the best elements of the store and bring it online. Now it’s the inversion. The store is still the place where we can drive customers. If somehow we were exposing inventory online and on time, we would understand the customer coming into the stores and we could curate the local environment.”
Golshan agreed, noting that there is a lot of online data that brands do not have access to.
“If we had access to that rich data in the store, it would help us understand customers across channels.”
Retail innovations
From Apple Pay to location-based marketing, there are several upcoming technological developments for retailers to provide better customer service and a more-engaging shopping experience.
Retailers are now challenged to keep up with the new technology. One of the worst experiences with technology is if it doesn’t work, said Marie Driscoll, CFA director for the Fung Business Intelligence Unit at Li & Fung.
Driscoll said GPS-enabled apps allow retailers to engage customers while they’re shopping in their competitors’ stores and discussed the impact of “Uber-fication,” or the sharing economy of websites such as Rent the Runway on the traditional business model.
The H.E.N.R.Y. consumer—described as “high-earners but not rich yet”—might not be able to afford to buy a designer handbag but could afford to rent one.
“They can live the lifestyle they can’t afford in an Uber economy,” Driscoll said.
Test-tube textiles and other developments
Kristine Upesleja, chief executive officer of Madisons-Innovative Textiles and an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, gave attendees an overview on wearable tech and new developments in what she calls “fashion engineering.”
The popularity of “wrist tech,” such as fitness trackers, is expected to drive interest in technology-enabled clothing such as activewear that measures your breathing and heart rate.
Upesleja highlighted new developments such as the Jins Meme smart glasses, which lets users navigate their cell-phone home screen using their eyes. Sensors in the glasses read the wearer’s blinks and eye movements. Bragi’s “Dash” wireless earbuds act as noise-canceling headphones and can track athletic performance. There is a new incarnation of the mood ring that measures if the wearer is angry or stressed and then sends meditation advice to a cell-phone app. The tech company Cute Circuit is integrating washable conductive ribbons into garments that enable the clothing to be connected to the Internet and be functional.
Upesleja also discussed new textile developments from 3-D printing to bioprocesses that “grow” nonwoven textiles from cellulose-based bacteria and bio-fabricated leather generated from animals’ skin cells.
“Fashion hasn’t changed much; you still need to dye, cut, sew and finish,” Upesleja said. “The fundamentals remained the same for centuries. Today is a brand-new day.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Las Vegas Apparel Trade Shows Spring16: August 16-19, 2015

“It was fantastic. Our best show ever.”IMG_20150818_130024
“It was OK. Just like usual”.
“It was quiet. Foot traffic was down.”
I got the same old three responses from sales agents to the same old question on the last day of the 3-day bi-annual behemoth round of Las Vegas apparel trade shows last week.
The same old question? “How was the show?”
Most agents answered with the middle of the three responses. I usually concur. I generally find it difficult to divine the success of the massive Vegas trade shows. Who is walking the aisles? Buyers? Agents? Industry types? Exhibitors? There might be lots of bodies about but how much business is being written. However this time, I thought it was a better than average week across all shows. I have reposted a California Apparel News review below.
There are reviews of the individual shows at the Apparel News Trade Shows page.
I did have one industry veteran at Project Women’s whose opinion I respect tell me that buyer traffic was down significantly, and that it has been steadily declining over recent years. Her comment was, “Women’s apparel is struggling. Retail is struggling. We used to be so much busier at this show.”
The last few show weeks have had staggered starts. The Modern Assembly shows – Liberty, Agenda, Capsule, MRKET, Accessories The Show and Stitch at the Venetian Hotel Convention Center and the Sands Expo started on the Monday with all the MAGIC shows at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Convention Center and Las Vegas Convention commencing on the Tuesday. This time was an all Monday kick-off.
Kids Love Gate shoes from Japan at Liberty
Kids Love Gate shoes from Japan at Liberty
Last week’s jailbreak start created a smoothing out of the foot traffic over the Monday and Tuesday, which are the busiest days of the week. With the previous staggered starts, the Modern Assembly shows were very busy on the Monday. The buyer, media and industry hoards invaded the MAGIC shows on the Tuesday. The usual frenetic Monday morning at Liberty was clearly calmer this time. The first day energy was dissipated at all the venues.
You can scroll through my favorite picks of the week at my Instagram page.
I use Instagram to record and share the brands and collections that pop because they are different or interesting or adventurous or have potential or generally catch my eye. The shoes from Kids Love Gate on the right are an example.
The New York round of Spring16 trade shows are in the middle of September. I expect the momentum to continue. As my industry friend commented retail is struggling, but it seems the apparel industry has decided that there are better days coming soon. I hope they are right.
Paul Brindley
Principal Adviser
paul brindley consults

Apparel News logo


Buyers Navigate Changed Format at Las Vegas Trade Shows

Sourcing at MAGIC featured fabric and trim resources, domestic and international sourcing, resources, and technology suppliers.
Saint James at Stitch

Johnny O at MRket
Show producers Sam Ben-Avraham and Sharifa Murdock at Liberty
The White Crow booth at Project Women’s
The Skies Are Blue booth at WWDMAGIC
Rob Jungmann of the Jungmaven brand, pictured left at the Jungmaven booth at Capsule
Marlies Dekkers at CurveNV@MAGIC
Teresa Gipson, Evelyn Toles and Barbara Hawthorne show off the hats from Scruples Originals, which had a booth at the WWIN show.
Agave at The Tents at Project
Silk screening tote bags at Pooltradeshow
Karl Kani at Agenda
Johnnie Loves June at Accessories The Show
LAS VEGAS—The landscape of the Las Vegas trade shows changed again as the giant UBM Advanstar, owner of the MAGIC Marketplaceand Project, re-merchandised the layout of its shows.
For the shows’ Aug. 17–19 run, ENKVegas was renamed Project Women’sMAGIC Men’s was renamed The Collective, and thePooltradeshow moved from a lower-level space in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center back to a space adjacent to Project on the main level.
At the Las Vegas Convention CenterSourcing at MAGIC moved from the South Hall to the North Hall, and MAGIC’s newest partner show,CurveNV@MAGIC, bowed in a dedicated space at the back of the Central Hall next to WWDMAGICPlayground was in the North Hall, and the convention center’s South Hall featured footwear brands and sourcing resources showing at FN Platform and WSA@MAGIC.
In addition to the trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, buyers also shopped theModern Assembly shows at the Sands Expo & Convention Center and The Venetian, including Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs,Agenda,CapsuleMRketStitch and Accessories The Show as well as the Offprice show, also held at the Sands. Buyers also visited theWWIN (Womenswear in Nevada) show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino and Kidshow at Planet Hollywood.
With so much ground to cover, some retailers had to ration the time spent at each show. That was the case for Don Zuidema, co-owner of the West Hollywood, Calif.–based menswear boutique LASC, who said he thought the many trade shows running concurrently in Las Vegas impacted attendance.
“I don’t see as many people [at the shows],” he said.
At the Velvet Heart booth at WWDMAGIC, owner Moshe Tsabag said traffic came in waves.
“We get a few people and then the booth is full. It’s been like this all day since we opened,” he said on opening day.
Tsabag said he was seeing a good response to the contemporary line Velvet Heart and the company’s new young contemporary brand, Free Heart. Buyers from Nasty GalModCloth and Bloomingdale’s stopped by the booth.
“People are building inventory because they feel confident in business,” Tsabag said.
Peter Burke, chief executive of PJ Salvage, was equally upbeat about current market conditions. (The Irvine, Calif.–based sleepwear and loungewear company was recently acquired by Tel Aviv–based Delta Galil Industries Inc.)
Burke, who was also showing at WWDMAGIC, said retailers have told him that business is growing. “I think we’ll have a good holiday,” he said.
The first part of the year was challenging for many Midwest retailers, who saw business affected by bad weather, said Greg Garrett, co-owner of Irvine-based Z Supply, which produces the White Crow and Black Swan collections. But many of those retailers saw business pick up following the Fourth of July holiday, Garrett added. “We’re getting an early read on fall right now,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of reorders.”
At the Pooltradeshow, exhibitors were pleased that the show was adjacent to Project this season.
“I’m really happy it’s connected to Project,” said Freddie Rojas, designer of the Los Angeles–based Rojas line. “We get a lot of walk-through traffic.”
Rojas said buyers are starting to feel more confident. “They are looking for new things no one else has to be more competitive and to stand out.”
Bryn Thomas, head of sales for Los Angeles–based Lip Service, said he thought traffic would have been stronger if the trade-show schedules had been staggered. A few years ago, when the shows at the Mandalay Bay opened a day earlier than the shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Thomas said, the company had one of its best shows ever and opened several new stores.
“Sales were up at least 20 percent for all brands,” he said.
Pierre-Nicholas Hurstel, ‎chief executive office of CURVExpo Inc., which organized the CurveNV@MAGIC show, described the event—the first in partnership with MAGIC—as a “very successful relaunch.”
The show featured a mix of lingerie, swimwear, sleepwear, loungewear and hosiery resources.
For many of the swimwear exhibitors, CurveNV@MAGIC came at the end of a season of swim shows, but several said the Las Vegas show gave them a chance to meet with boutique and resort buyers who may not have attended the earlier shows.
“This is a great platform for new business and resort buyers,” said Debby Martin, national sales manager/retail marketing for Irvine, Calif.–based swim brand L*Space by Monica Wise, which is a longtime exhibitor at CurveNV.
Nathan Chera, who represents the Anne Cole SignatureCole of California and Anne Cole Locker brands, also said he saw a lot of resort and boutique brands. Chera said his company previously showed with other swim brands at MAGIC.
“This year is definitely better than last year,” he said.
Sands Expo and The Venetian
Now in its third year, the Liberty Fairs trade show has been tweaking its product mix since it first launched in August 2013.
“We finally got the flow of the show perfect,” said show founder Sam Ben-Avraham. “We have 20 percent of brands every season revolving [out of the show]. When it’s not the right mix, it interferes with the show. This season we had the ultimate brand selection.”
For Jim Kremer of Australian brand Shoreditch London, traffic at Liberty seemed a bit slow, but overall the show was successful.
“All of the people we wanted to see came to the booth,” he said.
Robert Myers, designer of SLVDR, said he thought traffic was on par with last year, but he expected sales to increase 25 percent over last year’s show.
Chris Josol, with the Los Angeles–based Flagshipshowroom, said he saw buyers from Amazon.com,Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Urban Outfitters and Need Supply Co.
“People come to Vegas to finalize their orders,” he said.
At Capsule, George Vause, USA sales and operations manager for the New Zealand–based brand I Love Ugly, said the show’s timing helps wrap up the season.
“It’s the finale,” he said. “It’s when you close orders and lock down accounts and pick up the money.”
That said, Vause added, “You always get a buyer who waits for Vegas to do all of their ordering.”
Vause said he typically sees more of the brand’s West Coast buyers as well as Japanese retailers at the Las Vegas show.
“This is our best show,” said Brian Chan, founder of the Whittier, Calif.–based men’s brand Wolf & Man.
By the second day of the show, Wolf & Man had picked up orders from 20 stores.
This season, streetwear veteran Karl Kani was introducing his newly relaunched Karl Kani collection at Agenda. This was the first time in a decade that his brand exhibited at a trade show.
“People had been hearing the buzz that Karl Kani is back,” he said. “We wanted to establish that the brand is really out.”
Traffic was so busy at the show that Kani said he did not have time to leave the booth all day.
Stitch, MRket and Accessories The Show, the three shows organized by Business Journals Inc., were held in an adjoining space at the Sands.
Stitch, which consists primarily of contemporary womenswear, was brisk with business. This was the first time that Lori Marchand, owner of theImpulse Moda showroom at the Gerry Building in Los Angeles, was exhibiting her lines. She said she was doing particularly well with velvet burnout tops by Hariri.
Kristy Kurtmen was showing her family’s Kurtmen line of colorful leather cowboy boots, purses and leather bands at Accessories The Show. Her family designs and manufactures the boots and purses in Martindale, Texas, outside of Austin. They have been attending the show for five years and finding a following in the South, Midwest and West for their boots, which wholesale for $289 to $439. “The show has really, really been great,” she said.
At MRket, which showcases more-traditional menswear, exhibitors who made appointments were doing well. Tim Tobin, the regional salesperson for Robert Graham Clothing, was exhibiting dress shirts, tailored clothing and neckwear made by licenseeShirt Avenue in New York.
Shirt Avenue recently got the license for tailored clothing and neckwear and was eager to show the line. “It has been good,” Tobin said, noting that there was a cocktail party on the night of Aug. 17, the first day of the show, at the Mandalay Bay to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Robert Graham Clothing.
The Offprice show, held in the ground floor of the Sands, saw a 5 percent increase in exhibitors, according to Stephen Krogulski, chief executive officer of the show. The recent show featured 500 vendors exhibiting at 1,300 booths.
Offprice’s attendance has expanded from its base of traditional off-price retailers to include everything from individual Ebay sellers to independent grocery stores looking to add new products such as clothing basics and licensed goods such as sports team apparel.
Womenswear in Nevada
At the WWIN show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel, specialty-store buyers were in abundance. The show lasted for four days—from Aug. 17 to Aug. 20—while most of the other apparel trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center held court for three days. The WWIN show’s traffic on the first day was helped by the fact that it was open until 8 p.m. and serving cocktails.
Becky Paulson, owner of two A Corner Cottage stores in Greenwood, Tenn., attends WWIN because the merchandise she finds there appeals to two different generations. She was looking for reasonable prices and trendy styles, such as tunics, that can be worn by both a mother and her grown daughter.
Tina Dyba, owner of Diamond Diva in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin, said she was searching for feminine Western wear and trying to keep her retail prices to under $100. “It’s hard to sell to shoppers right now,” she said. “It is all about price and not about quality.”
Sourcing at MAGIC
In addition to the apparel and accessories trade shows in Las Vegas, retailers and brands looking for sourcing resources shopped factories and resources from around the world in the packed North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This season, the focus of the Sourcing at MAGIC show was wearable technology. Companies such as DuPont were showing off their stretchable inks for wearable electronics.
Jon Lou, a Staten Island, N.Y.–based startup, talked about its development of a fashionable handbag that can charge your phone or tablet and light up inside when opened.
While the emphasis might have been on new technologies, there were a lot of old-technology clothing manufacturers from around the world at the show. Governments and trade-promotion agencies sent companies from countries including Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guatemala, Peru and Colombia.
There was a contingent of 65 companies sponsored by the Indian government. One of those was Aman Sadh of Aman Fashion, who has one factory with 150 workers outside of New Delhi. This was his first Sourcing show in Las Vegas.
But he wasn’t writing that many orders because his minimums are 10,000 to 20,000 pieces. “People are coming by and asking for 500 to 1,000 pieces,” he complained. He said he can’t keep his wholesale prices down if he does small minimums. His shorts wholesale for $1.50, and dresses range in price from $5 to $8.
But he will be back because he wants to expand his U.S. business. “We have to participate for two to four years for it to click,” he said.