NORCAL NUMBERS UP
Fashion Market Northern California Surpasses Expectations
Even though the June version of Fashion Market Northern California is normally quieter than its other shows, exhibitors were pleasantly surprised by the turnout and the number of orders written.
Mary Taft, the show’s executive director, said attendance was up 2 percent over last year.
“We didn’t sit down yesterday [Monday] at all,” said Stuart Marcher, whose Julie & Stuart Marcher Showroom at the Gerry Building in Los Angeles carries several high-end brands including AZI Jeans, Nally & Millie, Translation and the sweater line Unwine. “We are well up over last year, about 15 percent. People in general are saying their business is good.”
The trade show, which ran June 17–19 at the San Mateo County Event Center in San Mateo, Calif., usually concentrates on merchandise for Fall II, which is a time for retailers to write fill-in orders after Fall I and also an opportunity to patch up the gaps in the summer lineup with Immediates.
“Retailers were looking for fill-in items and to complete their Fall buys,” said Lynn Anthony, the sales rep in Mill Valley, Calif., for IC Collection, an updated line of womenswear based in Los Angeles.
Nancy Provda, who represents the linen-centric line Fridaze as well as Yasuko and Toofan, said retailers came in looking for newness and to place more orders for things they had already bought. “I found most of my retailers were upbeat,” Provda said.
Normally retailers attending the show come from mostly Northern California, Oregon and Washington, but there were store owners filtering in from Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma. But several stores in Santa Rosa, Calif., hard-hit by a devastating fire last October that destroyed some 2,800 homes and killed 22 people in Sonoma County, were either not shopping as much or not showing up at all because a number of their customers had moved out of town.
“Some of those retailers I am seeing on the road, but they are not coming to the show,” said Jacqueline Stone, who lives in Fairfax, Calif., and is the sales rep for the Canadian womenswear line Sympli.
Exhibitors that did well had done their homework, rustling up buyers and retailers to the show. Stuart Marcher said he sent out emails and postcards as well as made phone calls to get the word out about the show, known for its open-air exhibition space and wide-open aisles that make it easy to navigate.
There are also several conveniences. Every morning, the Northern California show offers a free continental breakfast for buyers from 9 to 10 a.m. and afternoon snacks of lemonade and cookies. On Monday afternoon, show organizers host a sip ’n shop event where each retailer receives two tickets for complimentary wine or beer between 4 and 7 p.m.
With consumers feeling more secure financially with a federal tax deduction and practically full employment, retailers are more optimistic. “My good stores said they were out of merchandise and were writing heavy orders,” said IC Collection’s Anthony.
Sympli’s Stone didn’t expect as many buyers to show up to the three-day show. But they were there, taking more time to write orders. “I’m not hearing a lot of doom and gloom,” she said. “This surpassed my expectations.”
The next Fashion Market Northern California will be held Aug. 19–21 for the Holiday/Resort market.