CALA San Francisco entrance

CALA San Francisco entrance


Record-breaking San Francisco Heat Slows First-Day Traffic at CALA


CALA San Francisco show floor

For several years now, the nearly 100-year-old Fort Mason Center on the San Francisco waterfront has been the idyllic location for the Bay Area edition of CALA, which was held June 11–12.

But record-breaking high temperatures scorched the area and had the thermometer hitting the low 90s the first day of the show, which slowed traffic and had some buyers rescheduling their appointments or heading to the event’s open bar.

“It’s so beautiful here, but we’ve never seen this kind of heat,” said Gerry Murtagh, owner and president of CALA, a show for contemporary women’s brands. “Mary Joya, who represents Free People, said that some of her appointments on the first day canceled to reschedule for the second day.”

Buyers in attendance from major brands and popular boutiques included Stitch Fix, Macy’s, Ambiance San Francisco, Pure Barre, Punch, The Foundry and Joey Rae.

On the first day of the event, Murtagh reported a slight 7 percent decrease in attendees over the June 2018 show, but he said the 127 exhibitors, who represented approximately 400 brands and lines, were happy.

The convenience of the CALA show and its intimate atmosphere were major draws for Jennifer Schiessle, account executive for the Los Angeles luxury shirting brand Frank & Eileen.

“It’s easy to get to and there is a lot of light and it’s easy to walk around,” she said. “It’s an easy flight up from L.A., and it’s easy for our buyers to get here. They can take more time to see the collections than they can at the bigger shows, where they become busier.”

While she mentioned the heat seemed to slow traffic toward the end of the day, Schiessle saw consistent traffic. She said other booths were focused on Holiday, but she was showing Resort, and buyers were interested in seeing pieces in neutral tones including denim, black, white and blues.

“We’re showing Resort right now, and we have a following up here of people we consistently work with, so they’re looking for their core pieces, their bread and butter,” she said. “For us, we do shirting, so it’s pretty consistent.”

Sales ManagerDominique Demato of the Los Angeles–based basics brand n:Philanthropy met with a lot of buyers, mainly from Northern California and a few from the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s important to go to the small, regional shows to have a presence,” she said. “Given the climate with so many different brands, if we’re able to meet everyone halfway, it’s nice to meet in a more intimate setting.”

Many of her clients placed orders for pieces that wholesale from $36 to $113 as they looked through the brand’s line, which puts a fresh spin on such pieces as its locally made, hand-distressed sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts and cotton-blend dresses and jumpsuits.

“Buyers want something to give their customers a reason to buy new pieces,” she said. “Everyone needs their basics, but they want something that is going to make it special and stand out—something fun.”

Noting that her brand’s philanthropic mission remains popular with consumers, Demato said that buyers were interested in working with a brand that customers can feel good about buying.

CALA holds shows five times a year in San Francisco and three times a year in Denver and is launching a new Las Vegas show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Aug. 12–13.