L.A. Market Light as Showrooms, Buyers Prepare for the Big Las Vegas Shows
If you had to describe the recent Los Angeles Fashion Market, the word would be “subdued.”
August markets for the Holiday/Resort 2015 season are always quiet because the gigantic semiannual trade shows in Las Vegas are less than two weeks away—running Aug. 16–19. But this year, the Aug. 3–6 market seemed to be quieter than normal.
One good barometer of any fashion market is to survey the food court at the California Market Center. If it is fairly busy during market week, there are an abundance of buyers in town. But for this market, there were plenty of vacant tables at lunchtime.
And upstairs at the CMC showrooms, it was equally lackluster.
On the fifth floor, Selena Slogar was putting the finishing touches on her new showroom, The Hanger, a space she shares with The Dakota showroom.
“I think this August is slower than usual because the big shows are coming up,” said Slogar, The Hanger’s sales director. The showroom just moved from the Cooper Design Space to a spacious spot with concrete floors and very white walls.
Most of Slogar’s traffic had been appointment driven. Buyers from e-commerce sites such as Revolve and Tobi dropped by. “But the majors are not here,” the sales director said, noting that many buyers were in New York for Intermezzo, which ran Aug. 2–4. Also,Outdoor Retailer took place Aug. 5–8 in Salt Lake City, stealing a few buyers interested in sportswear and resortwear.
At the Lindi showroom on the third floor, Margaret Cox had seen a few local buyers, but she was not overwhelmed with traffic. “We saw a few of our regulars,” Cox said. “But in 10 days, we’ll all be in Las Vegas.”
Still, there were some popular items that were being picked up from the Lindi label, such as a lightweight sheer-ribbon trench coat that wholesales for $49. “It was a great little item for us this time,” she said.
Lindi shares its showroom with Karen George & Co., which also was seeing some local buyers and people who don’t attend the Las Vegas trade shows. “Between Sunday and Thursday, we will see about 40 people by the time it is over. That is one-fourth of what we would normally see,” Karen George said.
George represents Los Angeles labels Sisters and Poeme as well as Clotheshead out of Canada. The lines appeal to a crossover crowd of trend-driven buyers.
“People are coming in for Fall and Immediates. Then they will do Spring in Las Vegas,” George said. “But people don’t want to book six months down the road. It is too uncertain.”
Early Birds at The New Mart
Showrooms at The New Mart previewed their new lines and worked with early-bird shoppers during Los Angeles Fashion Market, said Matthew Boelk, co-founder of Groceries Apparel, a basics line that has a showroom in the 1926 landmark building.
“This market is for the overachievers,” he said. “This is for the ones who want to get it done early.”
It was also for independent retailers who didn’t plan on traveling to the Las Vegas trade shows, which include WWDMAGIC, Project, Womenswear in Nevada, Stitch and a host of others.
Buyers from majors such as Nordstrom and e-commerce retailers such as Zappos and Revolve reportedly were seen at The New Mart as well as specialty chains such as Apricot Lane in Vacaville, Calif., and boutiques such asThe Rare Earth in Del Mar, Calif.
For Eme Mizioch of the Joken Style showroom, the market’s pace was too slow. “I don’t know why we have a market. We only saw two people walking around here,” she said.
She recommended canceling the August market or rescheduling it to July, when, she says, retailers actively seek out Resort collections. “Those dollars are already spent,” she said of the Resort-season budgets.
Jackie Bartolo of the Jackie B showroom said she saw business even for what is traditionally a slow market. On Tuesday, Aug. 4, her showroom was busy from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with buyers perusing her lines. “We were selling anything from Immediates to Resort,” she said.
Despite the market’s slow pace, The New Mart showrooms were previewing lines that would get a wider display at the Las Vegas trade shows. The Jackie B showroom showed early looks from the On The Road collection, which is a new line from Los Angeles–based label Young Fabulous & Broke.
Groceries Apparel previewed its line’s 100 percent linen jersey made from flax. Joken Style previewed the Spring 2016 lines from new clients such as Ludmilla Labkova, a line from Estonia; Boom Shankar, an Australian brand; and Emma Lomax, a U.K. accessories brand.
The Liza Stewart showroom previewed looks from its new client, Threads 4 Thought. The Gig Showroom introduced new looks from the new P.J. Salvage intimates line.
Mixed traffic at Cooper
The Summer Somewhere showroom at the Cooper Design Space experienced busy afternoon rushes each day of this market, according to Stacey Spiegel. “We have been showing Resort, and it has been an overall good market,” Spiegel said. Representing Basta Surf, Gypset, Kiini, Las Bayadas, Lotta Stensson, Loveshackfancy, Samudra, Suboo, Surf Bazaar and TT Beach, Summer Somewhere reported working with mainly local accounts, including Elyse Walker, Atelier 7918, La Bella, The Shop in Laguna and Bonita. Being late in their Resort selling season, all accounts were writing this market.
The Lily Kate Showroom’s traffic was “good and steady,” according to Alexandra Faay, West Coast sales for Parker. Many buyers were seeking out ’70s-vibe-type pieces for their Resort and Spring orders, according to Faay. While many local boutiques booked appointments, the showroom also wrote Revolve Clothing, Ron Herman and Zappos.
Lefties Showroom reported a “slow” August market, meeting no new accounts, according to Chelsea Smith. The majority of its lines were still showing Holiday, with one of its lines showing pre-Spring, one showing Spring and one Resort. The showroom represents Flynn Skye, Stone Cold Fox, Cleobella, La Vie Boheme Yoga, MATE the Label, Lovely Bird, Saint Grace, Spiritual Gangster and Tori Praver. Lefties Showroom saw buyers from Zappos plus numerous local boutiques.
Marco Lebel, chief executive officer of Australian Fashion Labels Ltd., said his brands were having a good market despite having to split his team between LA Market and Intermezzo in New York, which was running concurrently. Half the AFL’s space is shared with the Place Showroom strictly for PR, and the other half is dedicated to sales. The Fifth, which recently launched, has been its strongest-growing brand and did very well this market. Lebel went on to discuss his in-house brands, which all offer independent monthly collections and corresponding monthly delivery dates. Setting up the labels in this regard “reflects the current fast-fashion movement” and provides buyers with new styles each month. BNKR has opening price points, and TY-LR is an advance contemporary label. Later this month, AFL is launching TY-LR Men and relaunching Jaggar shoes, which used August market as a preview jump-off point. This market, it saw mainly local boutiques in addition to Saks Mexico.
Bobby Sankary, sales director of the Bond Showroom, reported this market being “really dead.” Showing the same seasons as in June market, Sankary said unless his buyers missed June they were not coming.
Quiet at the Gerry Building
Buyer attendance was also light at the Gerry Building, where there were more buyers at the showrooms that carry European lines because those labels close their buying dates earlier than U.S. labels.
Sabrina Kupillas, whose Sabrina’s Style store opened 15 months ago in Portland, Ore., was looking at a number of dresses and tops from the Sfizio and Beatrice B. lines, made in Italy and carried by the Launch USA International showroom.
Kupillas said she never goes to the Las Vegas shows but attends every single Los Angeles Fashion Market. She was not flinching at higher price points, saying the dresses she sells have a $200 to $500 price tag and tops go for $150 to $300. They are sold to clients who range in age from 35 to 55. “I feel since February that things are going very well,” she said.
Sheila Hill, who owns the Launch USA International showroom, said her market week had been fairly busy. “I’ve seen several people I didn’t expect to see. I thought I would be seeing them in Las Vegas,” she said. “We’ve had three to four stores buying at a time.”
At the Julie & Stuart Marcher showroom, buyers stopped by, but it was far from busy. “It has been a slow market, but still I wouldn’t be willing to give it up. We can’t do this amount of business on the road in three days,” Stuart Marcher said.
Still, he felt the Las Vegas shows were siphoning off traffic. “I think Las Vegas is stealing our thunder and a lot more people are attending those shows,” he observed.
During Los Angeles Fashion Market, he calculated he saw 22 specialty-store and catalog buyers compared with about 24 buyers last year.
Quiet but good at Lady Liberty
“Despite being a typical quiet August market, it has been good,” said Karli Sherbanenko, West Coast sales manager at The One Showroom at the Lady Liberty building. Sherbanenko reported that the majority of buyers were “catching up on Fall ordering, writing Immediates and squaring off the rest of their 2015,” although they were showing a little Holiday but mainly Resort. New brands to The One Showroom this market were Mesketa and Mighty Purse, both of which were having reportedly exceptional markets. Veteran brands that have been with The One for a while that were also being shown included Majestic, Blank NYC, XSL,Other World, Trezo Lavi, Sewn & Still, New Friends Colony andH & Butler. The One Showroom named Revolve Clothing and numerous local boutiques as accounts that they saw this market.
The Globe Showroom—which represents Ronny Kobo, Suss, Tryb 212,Sam & Lavie, and White Warren—reported having a “true pre-Spring market.”
“This market is going well for us,” said Casey Griffin, account manager. While still showing Resort, they were jump-starting Spring with local accounts with a mix of orders and notes. Noteworthy accounts that stopped by included Ron Herman, American Rag and Revolve Clothing in addition to lots of other locals. As for trends, Griffin said flowy bohemian styles were big for Resort and pastel cashmere was being sought out for Spring ’16.
View 33, a showroom based out of New York, rented space from The One Showroom for the second market in a row. “Lady Liberty is easier to navigate and has a more boutique, intimate feel,” said Ohad Seroya, who was showing Rococo Sand on behalf of View 33. While he said this had “not been the best market,” he did meet with Everything But Water, Lost & Found and Tags Boutique.