Crowded LA Market Schedule Draws Major Retailers and Specialty Stores
Buyers ranging from major retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom to key specialty stores and e-tailers such as ShopBop, Ron Herman, Fred Segal and Beckley turned out for the recent run of Los Angeles Fashion Market, which was spread across multiple showroom buildings and several returning and new trade shows.
In addition to the central showroom buildings—the California Market Center, The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, the Gerry Building and the Lady Liberty Building—buyers also had several other trade shows to shop, including Designers and Agents, Select, Brand Assembly, Coeur, LA Men’s Market and Lazr, as well as new activewear show LA Active.
Exhibitors reported upbeat buyers looking for everything from Immediate deliveries to Spring ’15 goods.
This season, market dates remained split with the CMC and Gerry (as well as a handful of showrooms in the other buildings) opening on Sunday, Oct. 12. The New Mart, Cooper, Lady Liberty and the temporary trade shows opened on Monday, Oct. 13.
At CMC, boutiques are ‘bread and butter’
If the LA Majors Market, which ran Oct. 6–8, is about writing big orders with department stores, the boutique and specialty-oriented Los Angeles Fashion Market still represents the “bread and butter” business of the Betty Bottom Showroom in the California Market Center, said Rosanne Tritica, co-owner of the showroom. “We need both to survive,” she said.
Betty Bottom’s showroom calendar was packed with appointments with boutiques starting on Sunday through Tuesday. Traffic started tapering off on Wednesday, Tritica said.
Traffic was big, said Ernesto Mantilla, Betty Bottom’s co-owner and Tritica’s husband. “We’re close to the end of the year,” Mantilla said. “Stores are getting ready for a good Holiday season.”
But buying habits for small stores have changed in the past decade. Many stores aim to buy close to season, and it has changed the nature of the LA Fashion Markets. In the 1980s and 1990s, the October market was only for ordering Spring merchandise. But in the past few years, the January LA Fashion Market has increased in importance for Spring merchandise because so many boutiques aim to order Immediates, Tritica said.
Immediates were important for the recent LA Fashion Market, and Betty Bottom’s clients aim to service that demand. The showroom’s clients—Moonlight, headquartered in Los Angeles, and Dzhavael Couture, which is based in New York—make December merchandise deliveries, which are just in time for the holiday season.
Retail traffic was good for the Mystree showroom, said Jerry Wexler, a sales representative for young contemporary line Mystree. Business was about even with the October LA Fashion Market of 2013, Wexler said.
Don Reichman of Reichman Associates noted that the general mood of boutique owners seemed more bullish than in other markets this year. “I hope it reflects on our business and they buy more,” he said.
Business was good at the T&A women’s showroom on the fifth-floor contemporary wing of the CMC, but the traffic was not as good as the T&A men’s showroom, which participated in LA Men’s Market, which ran Oct. 13–14 on CMC’s Area 4 section, said Alfred Davis, a co-owner of the showroom.
The men’s showroom worked with more than 80 buyers, and the women’s market worked with more than 25 buyers, Davis said. “Women’s [business] typically does better than men’s,” he said. But his men’s showroom enjoyed more traffic because of the big marketing and sponsorship effort behind LAMM, he said. There was catered food and drinks at the men’s show, as well as parties in the evening.
Majors vs. specialty stores at The New Mart
Retail traffic increased more than 7 percent at The New Mart over last October, said Ethan Eller, the showroom building’s general manager.
Lynn Girard of the Lynn Girard Showroom reported a LA Fashion Market packed with appointments. Sometimes there were not enough stations at her showroom to seat all of the appointments, she noted. Girard and the other showrooms on the 12th floor pooled resources to offer buyers margaritas, taquitos and churros during market.
Although most showroom owners generally agreed that the business at market was good, several also noted that business overall seems to be changing.
For Eme Mizioch, the owner of the Joken Style showroom, the best business was at the recent LA Majors Market. “We killed it with the Majors,” Mizioch said. For the specialty and boutique-focused Fashion Market, every dollar was harder to earn, she said.
“[Boutiques] are so focused on Immediates that it’s hard to go to production. How do you know your projections if you don’t know how many people will be ordering or what they will order?” Mizioch said.
Jackie Bartolo, owner of the Jackie B showroom, also noted that the majors business has been very good. Majors make bigger buys, and they help build production offers for manufacturers. However, specialty and boutique retail is crucial, she said. During the LA Fashion Market, Bartolo worked with e-commerce retailer Le Tote, Sloan Boutique of Portland, Ore.; Hailee Grace of Denver; Soto, a Los Angeles boutique chain with seven locations; and Ambiance San Francisco.
“Boutiques are being more careful with buys as far as categories,” Bartolo said. “They’re going to write the orders, but they’re making sure that they not doubling ordering and buying the same thing from different companies.”
Buzzing at Cooper
Increased traffic and Immediate orders were reported throughout Los Angeles Fashion Market at the Cooper Design Space. “We’re having a very good, very busy market,” said Marilyn Rodriguez, owner of Room Showroom, which was open Monday through Wednesday. “We work mostly on appointment, and this year is definitely better than last October.” Room houses such brands as Aquaverde, Amanda Shi, Carmella, Kes and Toupy. Rodriguez met with Elyse Walker, Satine, Shopbop and Revolve Clothing.
Marisa Bergman, West Coast director of Showroom Seven Los Angeles, also reported having a “great” market.
“We are much happier about the dates this market than in August, when we overlapped with New York, which was a disaster,” said Lauren Bryant, sales director of Agency Showroom. “This market has been great for us. We’ve seen Nasty Gal, Revolve Clothing, Hautelook, Anthropologie and Swell.”
Orders were split between Immediates or in-season orders and Spring ’15 goods.
Brand Equity Showroom saw “good, steady traffic. There has been a lot of excitement around Costume National this market,” said showroom owner Brian Stark. “Many of our buyers have been focused on Immediate styles this week.”
Stark had appointments booked Monday through Friday. “Weekends never work for us,” he said. “We see our accounts during the week.”
Scotch & Soda and Maison Scotch, which both follow European selling dates, had already closed their selling season. Still, the sister brands saw an increase in Immediates and reorders, said West Coast sales manager Kate Wazdatskey. Monday was very busy, Wazdatskey added. “We met with a lot of new accounts this market,” she said.
Jennifer Mohlar, owner of HM Showroom, said she was pleased with market, adding that Revolve Clothing, Diane’s and Fred Segalwere amongthe retailers who stopped by the showroom.
“We have been very busy this week with steady traffic, seeing lots of specialty boutiques,” she said. HM Showroom represents brands Malia Jones, Vintage Havana, Sticky Eyewear and Bettinis Bikinis, plus others, and also runs a showroom in Santa Monica, Calif.
Early start at Gerry
The showroom owners and representatives at the Gerry Building were happy with the turnout at Los Angeles Fashion Market.
“This has been a great market for us,” said Nina Perez, owner of the Nina Perez Showroom. “We have been very busy, and our buyers are all happy and upbeat.”
Market opened on Sunday, Oct. 12, the day before some of the other showroom buildings and temporary trade shows opened.
“Sundays are essential for us; buyers need that extra day,” said Perez, who represents brands Nic + Zoe, Evangeline Bags and Niche. The showroom owner, who shares space with Julie Walls, said she had appointments and walk-ins from retailers from Canada, the Northwest U.S. and the Midwest. “This has been an exciting market,” she said.
Brian Cahill, sales manager for JordanLouis,came from New York to show for the first time at Los Angeles Fashion Market. “LA has a very different lifestyle and culture, and JordanLouis has so far been well received,” he said, adding that he met with buyers from Fred Segal, Nordstrom, PE 101 and Bleu.
Sharing the space with JordanLouis, Jerry Chen of Zero Degree Celsius also recently moved from New York to Los Angeles and was pleased with market.
“We moved here three months ago and are really happy,” Chen said. “Sunday was surprisingly really busy, Monday was slow, but Tuesday traffic picked up again. We like this building because the spaces feel creative, not so corporate, and they are large and open.”
Benjamin Zoldan of the Joseph Ribkoff Showroom echoed others from the building, reporting a solid market. “All our appointments have shown, and we have had a few really great random walk-ins,” he said. “We are very pleased with the turnout.”
Traffic up at Lady Liberty
At the Lady Liberty Building, Mary Joya, owner of the Mary Joya Showroom, was pleased with the turnout at Los Angeles Fashion Market.
“Our traffic has been up roughly 20 percent from last October Market,” she said.
Joya—who represents Artisan De Luxe, Trunk, Chrldr and Free People—moved to the Lady Liberty Building from The New Mart in May.
“This October has been very busy,” she said. “We opened on Sunday, which really paid off, and are booked with appointments through Thursday. We have booked more appointments this market and spread them out over more time, giving us quality time with each. It has helped tremendously, spending more one-on-one time with our accounts.”
Some of the retailers Joya saw include Bloomingdale’s, ShopBop, Ron Herman, Fred Segal and a handful of Japanese accounts.
Joey Showroom Sales Director Deva Braakensiek also reported having a “very good market with ongoing steady traffic,” with an even balance of appointments and walk-ins.
The showroom, which shares space with ONE Showroom and Majestic, also recently moved to the Lady Liberty building from the Cooper.
“We are very happy over here,” Braakensiek said. “There is a nice, relaxed environment and sense of community.”
Full house at D&A
The Oct. 13–15 run of the Designers and Agents show featured more than 100 brands and showrooms filling the fashion theater space on the third floor of The New Mart and drawing a steady stream of buyer traffic throughout the three-day show.
Nina Frank, the sales executive and sales manager at New York–based Minnie Rose, was pleased with the turnout at the show.
“I was expecting it to be this busy,” Frank said. “Minnie Rose always does amazing in California.”
Frank said she appreciated the quality of the stores shopping the show, which included higher-end better stores from across the Western U.S., she said.
Many of the buyers were upbeat and “not cautious at all,” Frank said, adding that the collection is selling at retail, which helps encourage the buyers to place new orders.
“They know it’s going to sell, and they are willing to put down dollars,” she said.
Robyn Kessel of San Francisco–based Keena was showing at D&A for the second time with apparel brands Neeru Kumar from India and Elk from Australia as well as accessories lines Petal handbags, Paro scarves and Fetch, a new eyewear company by tile designer Ann Sacks.
“We’re primarily in the gift industry, but we’ve been working with a couple of apparel brands for the last couple of seasons,” Kessel said. “All our lines have some sort of social responsibility or vertical manufacturing with a history of good practices. They sit in apparel stores and lifestyle boutiques and museum shops.”
Elk and Neeru both have strong followings internationally, Kessel said. Elk does well in in Australia, and Neeru Kumar does well in India, France and Japan. But both have an aesthetic that is in line with the West Coast,” Kessel said.
At the Keena booth at D&A, Kessel said, she primarily saw buyers from stores located west of the Rocky Mountains, including many retailers the company already knows, “which is surprising because we’re so steeped in gift.”
Longtime D&A exhibitor Kim White, who designs Los Angeles–based Kim White Handbags, was also pleased with the turnout at the show.
“I’ve had a great market,” she said, adding that she landed orders from as far east as Chicago.
Ed Mandelbaum, co-founder of the show, was equally enthusiastic.
“We’ve had good energy,” he said. “The room is filled. We really feel great about going off into the Holiday season.”
LA Men’s Market: Good biz at year 1
LA Men’s Market started in 2013 as an attempt to build a higher marquee for men’s styles at the March and October LA Fashion Markets. During its first-anniversary run on Oct. 13–14, mostly at the Area 4 section of the California Market Center, vendors reported good business and a desire to participate in future LAMM shows.
Pacific Sunwear and Forever 21 reportedly visited the show, which was formerly called LA Men’s Market Initiative. Also in attendance were boutiques such as LASC of West Hollywood, Calif.; Fred Segal Conveyor of Santa Monica, Calif.; ADBD of Los Angeles; and e-commerce brand Revolve Clothing as well as representatives from Japanese-headquartered retail distributors.
Kellen Roland, a producer of LAMM and president of The Ntwrk Agency showroom, which participated in the market, said 120 brands participated at the show, including 60 brands that do not permanently exhibit at the CMC. Brands exhibiting at LAMM included Obey, Nixon, Billionaire Boys Club, Black Scvle, Crooks & Castles, Wellen, Katin, Desigual, Don’t Care, G-Shock, Goorin Brothers, SLVDR, Insight, Hyden Yoo and Jachs. Fees for a table at the Area 4 temporary showrooms were under $700. The Park Showroom at the Lady Liberty building and The Foundation at the Cooper Design Space also participated in LAMM.
Breakfasts were provided by show sponsors Egg Slut, and vendors and retailers also got to drink Stumptown coffee and cold pressed juices by Juice Served Here. Another sponsor was Boxed Water. But the atmosphere was business-like, said Mars Collins, who did sales for Black Scvle. “It was about business,” he said of LAMM. “It’s easy to get writing done here.”
Adam Derry, chief executive officer and founder of ADBD, made an order for K-Way, the outerwear company represented by the Flagship Agency. He commended the market for being easy to navigate and bringing in a lot of brands that do not typically exhibit at the CMC. “It has a potential for being a building block for rebuilding the LA Market,” he said of LA Fashion Market, which, he contended, needs to attract more buyers.
Timothy J. Padilla, co-owner of the T&A Showroom in Area 4, said his men’s showroom saw more than 40 accounts on the first day of the show for its Spring/Summer collections, such as Desigual and Pocket Square Clothing. “It’s the largest event in Los Angeles,” Padilla said of the men’s trade shows.
There was some grumbling that buyers viewed collections at the show’s entrance, and many would not venture toward the back of Area 4. However, Chris Josol, partner in the Flagship Agency, said he had 20 meetings Monday at his company’s temporary showroom in the back.
Adam Ahdoot, a brand manager for Flagship, said much of the orders were for Immediate merchandise. “It’s between seasons,” he said. “For most of our brands, ordering deadlines have passed.”
Select gets bigger
It was a time of growth for the Select premium and contemporary brands show, which took place at the California Market Center’s Fashion Theater Oct. 13–15. Brittany Carr, the show’s director, said exhibitors increased 30 percent compared with the same time the previous year.
Show producers opened the stage area of the theater to provide additional exhibition space for jewelry vendors. Select welcomed back show veterans Beagle House NY, Gillian Julius and Streets Ahead. Studio City, Calif.–based handbags vendor Merci Marie returned to the show after a brief hiatus. Singapore-based designers Melchor Guinto and Charles Cua made their Select debuts. They shared a booth with Pia Gladys Perey, a Manila-based designer. The trio’s styles were featured in the International Fashion Tour runway show in the CMC lobby on Oct. 13.
Nicolette Beckett of the West Hollywood, Calif.–based Gillian Julius reported Select’s traffic started off strong on the first day of the show but gradually tapered off into a steady pace. She said an estimated 30 percent of the retailers that she met were e-commerce retailers, which was the highest percentage of e-tailers the company had ever seen at the show.
Yukiko Kawabata, owner of the Brooklyn, N.Y.–based Beagle House NY, estimated that traffic declined at the show, perhaps by 20 percent. She exhibited Beagle House NY’s branded scarves and hats. She mostly saw boutique retailers such as Fred Segal; Lily from Santa Barbara, Calif.; Filoni from Chicago; and Badu of Carefree, Ariz.
Coeur’s lifestyle mix
The Oct. 13–15 run of the Coeur trade show at the Cooper Design Space drew a mix of boutiques, online stores and fine-jewelry stores, which is exactly the target retailer Misa Hamamoto, designer of the Misa Jewelry collection in Los Angeles, was looking to meet.
Hamamoto has been showing at Coeur since 2012. Her hand-sculpted jewelry is “inspired by elements of nature like tropical coral or tree roots.” Made from 14-kt. gold, silver and vermeil and wholesale priced from $50 to $1,600, the line has a “price point for everyone,” Hamamoto said.
The designer said she has seen a shift in buyers’ mood in the last season. “It’s really picked up,” she said. “Buyers aren’t as cautious—they’re having fun again. They are trying the higher-end [pieces]. Even the stores that stock the silver and vermeil, they’re trying the 14-kt. gold.”
Santa Fe, N.M.–based Bash was showing at the Los Angeles Coeur show for the first time, said designer and owner Katy B. Ashmann.
Although Ashmann has had her line for about six years, she recently revamped the collection of architectural jewelry.
Wholesale priced from $100 to $1,400 for fine-jewelry pieces, Ashmann’s collection is made from locally sourced materials and inspired by her Santa Fe surroundings. Recently, the designer has been experimenting with different clasps and closures for her pieces. One cuff-style bracelet features a tension snap clasp, a minimalist rectangular bangle has a latch closure, and a lariat-style necklace is designed to lock in place.
Ashmann also showed at Coeur in New York. Ashmann said she was hoping for a little better traffic at the Los Angeles show but still met several retailers and stylists and landed “a few nice orders.”
Most of Coeur’s exhibitors were showing jewelry and accessories, but the show also has footwear, home décor and apparel lines.
“The focus is on lifestyle,” said Henri Myers, co-founder of the show. “We’re not going to be all ready-to-wear and high design. We’re bringing something more special and catered.”
This was the fourth time at Coeur for Kerry Cassill, the Laguna Beach, Calif.–based lifestyle collection of apparel and home goods made from textiles that are block printed by hand in India.
Nicole Cernich, who represents the company’s apparel collection, and Betsy Mackel, who handles the home merchandise, said the buyer turnout at Coeur was better for the brand’s apparel.
On the second day of the show, Anita Arze was staffing the booth for three Spanish footwear brands, Coclico, Chie Mihara and P. Monjo.
“We’ve been busy,” she said. “The afternoon was swamped! It was one after the other after the other!”
High-end retail at Brand Assembly
The Oct. 13–15 run of Brand Assembly at the Cooper Design Space drew buyers from Shopbop, Scoop, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Satine, Beckley, Dreslyn, Heist, Elyse Walker and Guild to shop the show’s offerings of contemporary apparel and accessories.
This season, organizers reworked the layout to give the show a more-open floor plan and added an emerging-designer section.
That is where Justin Wen was showing the Fala collection, designed by his wife, Fala Chien. The company is in its second season since moving to Irvine, Calif., and this was the line’s first time at Brand Assembly.
“We did really well,” Wen said. “We were able to meet a lot of buyers who we wouldn’t have been able to meet at other shows. We do ENKVegas and Coterie, [but] it’s hard to meet selected buyers at the bigger shows. This show is so intimate, and the buyers have time to look at the lines.”
This was the first time at Brand Assembly for Dawn Mayo, who was showing her two New York–based boho-inspired brands, Chelsea Flower and Love Sam.
“I had a great show,” Mayo said, adding that she didn’t have a Los Angeles rep and needed to show in a busy environment. “I saw all the best stores—Neiman Marcus, Ron Herman, Fred Segal, Satine.”
Returning exhibitor Black Halo was busy during the three-day show with buyers responding especially well to some of the bright pieces in the line, as well as two-piece dressing, said Senior Account Executive Megan Flynn.
Flynn said she met with some new stores but primarily worked with existing accounts at Brand Assembly. Most retailers were on the hunt for something new and unique, she said.
“Everybody knows they have to differentiate themselves and offer something unique to draw customers in and give them a reason to buy,” she said.
According to co-organizer Hillary France, about 70 percent of the exhibitors at the show were returning from the previous show in June. France said exhibitors reported increased interest from buyers in shopping the LA Market, particularly because LA’s dates fall toward the end of the season.
“All brands I talk to said people want to come to LA and they want to buy later in the season,” she said.
Lazr bows in new LA Fashion District location
The Lazr trade show has a new location in the Los Angeles Fashion District. After testing the waters at LA Live, the Cooper Design Space and The New Mart, the footwear show moved to a lofty second-floor space on the corner of Los Angeles and Ninth streets.
The Oct. 13–15 run of the show featured more than 20 brands showing higher-end footwear, apparel and accessories. This marks the second season the show has run concurrently with Los Angeles Fashion Market, and the timing seemed to be a hit with exhibitors.
Mike Berkis, brand director for was Consolidated Shoe Co., represents the Nicole, Dimmi, Poetik License and OTBT brands. Berkis has been showing at Lazr since the first shows. He said this season was the best show so far.
“We had a lot of better-quality buyers coming through, and we wrote business,” he said. “Every show off market has been difficult.”
Berkis gave Lazr high marks for the new location and said the next challenge is to increase the foot traffic at the show. But, he added, like any show, it’s up to the brands to do their homework and schedule appointments with buyers.
“For me the goal is to have a great location during market,” he said, adding that he liked the addition of clothing and jewelry brands. “Everything mixed makes for a better show,” he said.
Show organizer John Ruffo continued his strategy of offering a direct-to-consumer component to the show. This season, Lazr’s retail section was one flight below the trade show at Vertigo, the boutique on the ground floor of the building. Lazr also partnered with Fashion Business Inc., which organized a runway show at Vertigo on the last day of the trade show.
LA Active show debuts at Gerry
New contemporary activewear trade show LA Active, organized by industry veteran Juliyn Taylor, debuted with a soft opening at Los Angeles Fashion Market on the fifth floor of the Gerry Building.
“We are providing buyers with one destination in Los Angeles to see contemporary activewear,” Taylor said. “Buyers and activewear companies have shown a lot of excitement and support.”
Exhibitor Rosalie Davies represents Nux, an activewear line based and produced in LA.
“We like the idea of a one-stop-shop show in LA,” Davies said. “Our accounts have given a positive reception, and we have had a couple awesome walk-ins.”
The Gerry Building’s light, airy showroom spaces made for a nice alternative to the typical trade show–booth setting, Taylor said.
“Brands are able to spread out yet still be in one place, making it more convenient for our buyers. The responses have been overwhelming.”
For its “test season,” LA Active showcased a hand-selected group of contemporary active brands, including L*Space, Jet Setter, Frankie’s Bikinis, Lenny, Lisa Lozano, Rose Blue, Rese Active, Prismsport, Karma, Minka Binx, Juju Jams, Zobha, La Vie, Nux and Cozy Orange.
“Although we have not had a ton of foot traffic, we did meet various boutiques, online retailers, and health clubs and spas,” said Dalma Pszotka, sales representative for Cozy Orange, an eco-friendly active brand from San Diego. “We are excited about a show located in LA that has crossover traffic and look forward to being a part of it and watching it grow.”
Crossover traffic is also key for Nux, Davies said.
“We have seen a recent increase in business due to crossover traffic,” she said. “Boutiques are seeking out activewear as much as yoga studios are, and gyms are looking to offer creative mixes of merchandise for their clients.”
Taylor plans LA Active to run five times annually, concurrent with LA Fashion Market. The show will officially launch in January.
Buzz building for independent showcase at Duarte studio
The independent designer showcase at Henry Duarte’s studio is building a following of better retailers looking for one-of-a-kind, artisan apparel and accessories in a curated environment.
Tentatively called Gutai Showroom, after the 1950s art movement, this season’s designers included Beth Orduña; Danielle Welmond; Jaga Buyan, designer of the Jaga and Duuya collections; Calleen Cordero; Peter Cohen; Fisher Karlsson; and William Beranek’s pant line, Hung on You.
“It was a nice outcome,” Welmond said, adding that the stores that came were a mix of retailers she knew and some who stopped by after shopping the other shows at LA Market. “They’re curious.”
“Gutai” is the Japanese word for “embodiment,” and mid-century artists such as Jiro Yoshihara and Shozo Shimamoto drew their inspiration from the materials they used.
Before the show, Orduña worked with Duarte to reconfigure the space to let buyers better navigate the two-story studio. Orduña, Welmond and Buyan are part of the original group showing at the studio. Each season, they invite another designer to join the mix.
“It’s evolving,” Orduña said. “Every market we experiment with the chemistry of working with different designers.”
When the showcase first began, the designers had some downtime to relax and talk about their work. But this season, that changed as retailers from stores such as Savannah in Santa Monica, Calif., stopped by to review the collections during the four-day show.
“We were slammed,” Orduña said.
Some retailers came for the opening-night cocktail party on Oct. 15 and kept working past the show’s planned 5 p.m. closing time.
“That’s the spirit of Gutai,” Orduña said. “It’s not rigid; it’s not 9 to 5.”
Duarte’s studio is located on Los Angeles Street, two blocks north of the main showroom buildings.
Orduña said she can envision some room to expand Gutai Showroom’s offerings.
“It would be great to have a small, amazing leather-goods collection,” she said.
But the space in Duarte’s studio is limited, which is how the designers like it.
“Part of why it’s so good is because it’s small,” Orduña said. λ