Light Traffic at LA Fashion Market
The August edition of Los Angeles Fashion Market is traditionally the slowest market of the season, but this particular market, held Aug. 5–8 for Holiday/Resort 2013/14, was, for many, one of the slowest in memory.
With the Las Vegas trade shows only two weeks away and concurrent trade shows in New York, buyers trickled through the halls of the various showroom buildings that make up the heart of the Los Angeles Fashion District.
Buyers who did make an appearance were looking for Immediates and Spring 2014 items.
“Out of all the markets, this is probably the slowest one by far,” said Michael Pieters of Kill City, an edgy brand that for the first time had a temporary showroom on the fourth floor of the California Market Center. “Everyone is getting ready for Vegas, and it is Back-to-School season. So it’s a bit slow.”
Show shift at CMC
Normally, the CMC organizes two shows during market weeks: Transit Footwear & Accessories Show as well as Select Contemporary Brands. But with the New York Shoe Expo, Intermezzo, Accessorie Circuit and Accessories The Show in New York overlapping, the CMC events were postponed until the next Los Angeles Fashion Market, which starts Oct. 13.
Instead, the California Market Center organized a show called Temporaries, held inside the Fashion Theater off the main lobby, said the CMC’s Oscar Ben Rodriguez, senior trade show manager. Exhibitors included I Dream Style, Jennifer Croll, Prêt-a-Porter and Olivari accessories. “Feedback overall was positive, and some exhibitors, such as Nomad Footwear and Naughty Monkey, reported having a great show,” Rodriguez said.
In the permanent CMC showrooms, Derek Mosher of Market Showroom felt the building was a good fit for his menswear brands, such as Third & Army, Stitch’s, J.A.C.H.S. and Ballast accessories.
While wholesale price points for the showroom vary, Mosher offers a good range for buyers. Stitch’s has wholesale price points between $80 and $90, selling to Saks Fifth Avenue, H Lorenzo, Fred Segal and Kitson. Third & Army is less expensive with wovens priced at $30 to $40 and knits at $20 to $30.
Mosher felt this market was relatively slow, but he received more orders than last year. He found that buyers at this market were interested in Spring 2014 items instead of Immediates. “It’s kind of nice they are looking into the future,” he said.
Julie Vandevert, the owner of JV Associates, has had her CMC showroom for 19 years, carrying better women’s linens and knits with brands such as Cutloose, Tulip Clothing and Asian Eye.
She felt this market was slower than last year because of the competition with Las Vegas. “Last year, market fell one week before [Las Vegas], not two, so it was busier,” Vandevert said.
Last year, Los Angeles Fashion Market for Holiday/Resort 2012 took place Aug. 13–16.
However, she did receive orders from both walk-ins and appointment-based retailers looking for Immediates and Fall items.
One of the buyers who stopped by Vandervert’s showroom was Suzi Click, a Los Angeles–based designer who comes by regularly to purchase Asian Eye scarves for her designs. “I love visiting and buying these scarves,” Click said. “I turn them into wearable art jackets and sell them at arts-and-crafts shows.”
At the Five21 showroom, which carries young contemporary brands as well as dressier evening apparel, Vishaka Lama felt the market was rather sluggish but still productive. “We did not focus a lot on this market because a lot of the big buyers come in at Vegas. But considering we didn’t focus on this market, people still came in,” Lama said, noting she received orders from four stores. Buyers from Nordstrom stopped by, too.
Taking care of business at The New Mart
It was quiet in The New Mart, where showroom owners said they saw a handful of accounts but expected to do more business at the trade shows in Las Vegas or in their visits with retailers on the road.
The Pulse Showroom’s Larry Balag credited a trade show–packed calendar for the slow market.
“The LA market has changed,” he said. “August is New York; it’s Las Vegas.”
Balag said his business, in general, for his two lines, Red Engine Jeans and Australia Luxe Collection, is good. And the prior market was a good one for the showroom, he said.
Showroom owner Rande Blatt Cohen was blunt in her assessment: “It’s the worst August market I’ve ever experienced. Most people aren’t going to spend money to go to Las Vegas in 10 days and come here.”
Still, as she spoke, buyers were walking into the showroom for appointments. The showroom carries a broad mix of contemporary lifestyle lines, including PJ Salvage and PJ Luxe, Peace Love World, My Tribe, Oats Cashmere, Crown Jewel, Lori Jack, Old Gringo, Joed Belts, Mad Mac, and Fickle.
“I have had business; it’s probably the same as last year,” Cohen said. “[Market is] always a reason to get business.”
Like her 11th-floor neighbors at Pulse, Cohen said the previous market was good. The Rande Cohen Showroom opened in The New Mart in May after 14 years on the fifth floor of the California Market Center.
“June was good,” Cohen said. “I saw people here I hadn’t seen in five years. I had a really positive response.”
Ethan Eller, general manager of The New Mart, called market “slow but steady.”
“August is always our slowest market of the year, but we had over 300 unique buyers come through the building conducting business,” he said. “Primarily Western buyers—Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco—but also from Miami; Juarez, Mexico; and as far away as Indonesia.”
At the Joken Style showroom, August market was an opportunity to introduce several new lines, including Tee Ink, a hat and accessories line inspired by the Virgin Islands; Mayumi-Gumi, a Southern California T-shirt and accessories line with Japanese-inspired graphics; One Green Elephant, a German collection that includes denim, knits and wovens in innovative washes; Jared Lang, a Canadian men’s shirt line in cheerful brights; and Sigal, a men’s jewelry line from Canada.
Showroom manager Kisha Hicks said jewelry, in particular, was doing well with buyers. “People are stopping by because they need jewelry,” she said.
Appointments at Cooper
Buyer traffic at the Cooper Design Space was similar to last year—light.
Brandi Lover, who works at the Room showroom, said sales reps had to make business come to them. “It was one of the most quiet markets I’ve seen,” Lover said. “If I hadn’t made appointments, it would have been a horrible show.”
Lover exhibited Noel, a Spanish handbag line that offered leather clutches and bags wholesaling for $50 to $60.
For Tara Riddle, owner of the T. Riddle showroom, market was saved by good appointments. “It was a slow show, but we were grateful for what we got,” she said.
Her showroom saw prominent online retailers such as Zappos and Modcloth as well boutiques such as Ambiance San Francisco; Kelli of Merced, Calif.; and Sloan Boutique of Portland, Ore.
Riddle had a good feeling about the show. “They’re writing. They are positive, and we are getting reorders,” she said.
Riddle said stores wrote orders for Resort and Spring goods from her lines, which include Coconinno of Los Angeles; Kensie, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada; Oxmo, a Danish line; and British labels Yumi, Uttam Boutique and AngelEye.
Boutique owner Alan Hall, who operates the Eden store in San Diego and the Muse boutique in Laguna Beach, Calif., said he placed bigger orders during the August edition at LA Fashion Market for Fall/Winter even though Summer is his top season. “We do our best business during the summer,” he said. “It’s hard not to be optimistic during the summer. Fall/Winter is usually tough for us, so I normally am conservative ordering for then.”
He believes the economy is on a more solid footing, which was why he felt confident in making bigger orders for his off season this year. “I feel that things are getting better—slowly but steady, just the way I like it,” he said.
“Solid” buyers at Gerry Building
Showroom owners at the Gerry Building spent market week waiting for buyers to wander through their front doors. Comments about market week included “dead,” “slow, slow, slow,” and “don’t ask.”
Some wondered why anyone bothers to organize a Los Angeles Fashion Market just two weeks before the big apparel trade shows, dominated by MAGIC in Las Vegas. “It’s all because of Vegas,” said Nancy Kelly, a partner in the Ellie Frank/Priorities showroom on the seventh floor. “I don’t know why they have to book this market on top of Las Vegas.”
At the Miriana Ojeda showroom, the various sales representatives for some of the 10 lines carried in the space were taking advantage of the lull in business to sip wine and nibble on hors d’oeuvres, creating a mid-afternoon cocktail-party environment.
Buyers had been trickling into the showroom but very slowly. “We’ve seen our solid clientele,” said Ojeda, referring to the 10 or 11 buyers she had seen by the third day of market. They were from California, Utah and Colorado. “It’s the stores I normally sell to.”
But buyers from Washington, Oregon and northern California usually wait to do their shopping at Fashion Market Northern California, which takes place Aug. 25–27 in San Mateo, Calif. “The stores are still trying to cut back, so it is cheaper for them to go to San Mateo,” Ojeda said.
For Lynne Andresevic, the market was a little more upbeat than for other showrooms. “It’s been pretty steady,” said the co-owner of the Crayola Sisters showroom, which carries both European and domestic lines such as Look From London, Vanite Couture and Cordelia. “There are people who don’t like to go to Vegas and come here,” she said.
Sales at her showroom were item driven, with skirts, jackets and sweaters being big hits.
At the Salt & Pepper Sales showroom, co-owned by Bea Gorman and Emmalena Bland, about 15 retailers had stopped by over a three-day period. “It was very quiet on Sunday,” Gorman said, noting that in the past, Sunday has been the busiest day of the week in every market.
Other showrooms agreed that Sunday was dead. No one was sure whether people were still on vacation or busy finishing up back-to-school shopping for their children.