As of Friday, June 17, 2016
Usually Southern California retailers in Orange County and San Diego drive long distances to check out the new styles at the various showrooms located in the Los Angeles Fashion District in downtown Los Angeles.
But for a change, Los Angeles showrooms were hitting the highway to drive down to Orange County to show their latest collections to retailers.
Several showrooms and sales reps recently participated in the second edition of the OC.Mix Show, a small and casual trade show that feels more like an afternoon get-together of friends than a buy-and-sell event.
The show is organized by Z Supply, an apparel company with several labels that range from Black Swan and Others Follow to White Crow and Rag Poets. To keep costs down, the show is housed in Z Supply’s 1,500-square-foot showroom in its industrial-park headquarters in Irvine, Calif., where the space has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a long patio furnished with picnic tables.
The first show took place April 18–19. The second show was held June 13–14, and a third show is being considered for September. “I decided that Orange County needed some kind of contemporary show down here that would make it easier for retailers and for reps who can knock out 20 to 30 accounts in a couple of days,” said Greg Garrett, a Z Supply cofounder. “For the retailers, going to Los Angeles, with the traffic and cost, adds up.”
With only 1,500 square feet at the venue, vendor space was limited. At the recent show, there were only nine vendors with 22 lines, about the same as in April, Garrett said.
“We have a waiting list of 10 people who want to come,” he said, noting he may tent the patio area to expand. Right now, the patio is being used as a picnic area for the free breakfast, lunch and mid-afternoon wine and cheese served at the show.
Retailers attending the show included Diane’s Beachwear, Zappos, Blue Eyed Girl, West of Camden and Girl Talk Clothing.
For vendors, it was the perfect way to meet with existing accounts and pick up new accounts. This was the first show for Justine Inman, the West Coast account executive for Free People, which has a showroom in the Lady Liberty building in downtown Los Angeles. “This was a great way to reach out to more accounts and secure new business. Sometimes it’s hard for us to get down to this area,” she said.
She was seeing mostly specialty stores interested in picking up pre-Fall to early Holiday goods with July through September deliveries.
For Brooke Parker, a sales rep at the Seamless Showroom at the Cooper Design Space in downtown LA, who represents contemporary brands Show Me Your Mumu and Knot Sisters, the show helped whittle down her daily commute. She lives only 10 minutes away in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“My boss said there were a few accounts we didn’t see during Los Angeles Fashion Market because it was hard for the retailers to drive up to Los Angeles,” she said. “For a lot of specialty-store accounts, it is hard for them to drive up to Los Angeles.”
This was the second show for Level 99, a hip twill-and-denim-based brand started by textile manufacturer Twin Dragon Marketing in Gardena, Calif. Sandy Ramirez, the West Coast sales rep who works out of a showroom in The New Mart, said she was trying to branch out and find new customers.
On the first day, she picked up two new accounts—with West of Camden, which has stores in Corona del Mar, Calif., and Huntington Beach, and with Costa Cabana in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“We are trying to open the doors and get more presence in Orange County and San Diego,” Ramirez said. “It’s hard to see everyone when you’re on the road.”
Caroline Strother, the Los Angeles–based sales rep for yoga-based brand Spiritual Gangster, found the show’s atmosphere relaxed and conducive to spending more time with retailers. She said the brand has a lot of surf and skate accounts in Orange County and San Diego. “Los Angeles Market was crazy this last time,” she said. “It is nice to have an environment that is more calm.”