Crowded Schedule at LA Market
There was a lot of ground for buyers to cover during the recent run of Los Angeles Fashion Market, which officially kicked off on Oct. 17 at the California Market Center, The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, the Gerry Building and the Lady Liberty Building. Buyers also shopped the exhibitors at Designers and Agents at The New Mart, Coeur at the CMC, Brand Assembly at the Cooper, ALT at the CMC and the LA Mens Market at the CMC as well as new shows Capsule, Axis and Contemporary Curves, also held at the CMC.
Overall, exhibitors reported upbeat retailers placing orders for everything from Immediate deliveries through Summer.
Steady traffic at CMC
In an unusual twist, CMC showroom owners said they were not seeing many retailers ordering Immediate items during the recent Los Angeles Fashion Market, but they were concentrating on the Spring/Summer ’17 collections being shown.
The lack of Immediate orders centered around two things: unusually warm weather leaving stores with lots of Fall inventory and the U.S. presidential election, which is casting a shadow of uncertainty over the country’s economic future.
“I can’t say this was the best market we’ve ever had, but it was not the worst,” said Karen George, whose Karen George & Co. is on the CMC’s third floor. “The buyers who were here were here to buy. They are being cautious because everyone is waiting to get past the elections.”
She said retailers were searching for newness, which is sorely needed to spur buying because the ready-to-wear market in recent years has been faced with steep competition from the athleisure category.
Searching for newness were Lindsay Matthews and Devin Kinsel, who were shopping for their Olive & June Boutiques in New Mexico. One store is in Alamagordo and the other is in Clovis.
This was their first visit to the Los Angeles Fashion Market, having shopped before at the Dallas market and in Las Vegas at MAGIC. “We came to Los Angeles to look for new, emerging brands to get an edge,” said Matthews, who was shopping for Holiday dresses and Spring items. “Our customer, who is a young contemporary, wants to buy a lot of new trends without paying too much money.”
They had already visited the San Pedro Wholesale Mart on Crocker Street in downtown Los Angeles, where they placed orders, and were wandering through the CMC halls checking out showrooms.
Matthews said they were dealing with store revenues that were down slightly from last year, but they were hoping the election would turn things around.
At the International Brands in America & Perlmanrep showroom, sales representative Justin Perron said retailers in touristy areas were showing a little more caution because of the strong dollar making items more expensive for foreign tourists, but stores in other areas were writing solid orders and had no problem placing minimum orders and above. “The first two days of the show were really good,” he said, noting there were retailers coming in almost every hour.
For Susan Pomponi, who was representing the Focus misses brand in a temporary showroom on the third floor, the market was “buzzing on Sunday and Monday,” when lots of stores came through. Her customers were buying primarily Spring items for deliveries between January and March. “There has been so much warm weather that they still have Fall goods in their stores,” she said.
Upbeat at The New Mart
The mood was upbeat at The New Mart, where showroom owners reported a strong start to Los Angeles Fashion Market followed by steady traffic from retailers across the Western United States.
“Sunday was jammed,” said Diane Vonderheide, owner of the Vonderheide Showroom.
Kathleen Keyes, a sales rep for the Vonderheide Showroom, said the energy was good and there was steady traffic from retailers from California, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington looking for Spring goods.
“We had a positive market—it was one of the better ones,” Keyes said.
It was a similar story in the Kathy Walker Sales showroom, where owner Kathy Walker said she was having an “amazing market.”
“It felt much more positive than before,” she said, adding that “It’s the West Coast, it’s Spring, it’s our time to shine.”
Walker credited the good turnout to her collections, which include One Teaspooon as well as several new lines for her showroom: Unveil, Believe or Leave, Malibu Road and Say the Sun.
“It’s about finding right product for the market,” she said. “It’s more lifestyle, and they are all very well priced.”
Los Angeles–based contemporary collection Lavender Brown was showing in a space alongside Project Social T, Olive & Oak, PPLA and Domo.
“It’s one of the busier markets in LA,” said Lavender Brown owner Gregg Fiene, who said the mood at market was overall positive.
“Nobody is negative, he said.
Fiene said about 75 percent of the traffic at market came from existing accounts and 25 percent were potential new ones. Founded five years ago, Lavender Brown is designed and made in Los Angeles and sells in specialty boutiques.
“The specialty-stores buyer is coming back strong,” he said. “The better customer still likes to shop and have customer service.”
Surge of traffic at Cooper
The Siblings Showroom hired an extra salesperson for the Los Angeles Fashion Market. It was much busier than the June and August markets, said Israel Ramirez, cofounder of the Cooper Design Space showroom. “It was a huge surge of people,” he said. “There was a lot of walk-in traffic. You hardly get that anymore. You typically get your regulars.”
Ramirez credited the increase in traffic to greater consumer confidence. On Sept. 27, The Conference Board, a nonprofit research agency, reported an uptick in its Consumer Confidence Index from 101.8 to 104.1. More buyers dropped by the recent market because Siblings added a new line, Signorelli. The Los Angeles–headquartered line produces women’s T-shirts and pullovers in French terry and fleece.
Eddie Bromberg, president of the Cotton Citizen label, showing in the Community Service showroom, also saw an increase in traffic at market. He estimated that his label’s market sales would increase more than 15 percent compared to the October 2015 market. “It’s not a question of being busy,” he said. “It’s that people were writing. It was good business.”
Cotton Citizen showed basics and elevated basic styles in unique colors such as iridescent pink and an iridescent yellow. The label also exhibited styles in hemp and fabrics and textural slub fabrics. Consumers are demanding greater details and differences from companies making basic clothing. “A lot of people are not in the business anymore because they could not survive as a basics label,” he said. “Cotton Citizen evolved because of our new fits, washes and destruction styles.”
At the Cooper’s One Girl Agency, Joey Orsi showed jackets from Schott NYC and Schott’s Perfecto Brand. “I thought it was interesting that some of the bigger buyers had open-to-buy budgets for Fall and Holiday. It’s different from last year. The buyers are holding a little reserve to react on what is hitting,” Orsi said. A handful of buyers also wrote for the Spring 2017 season.
For the October market a few new showrooms opened, including the One of Eight showroom in suite 400A, Elm::Poste in Suite 200, RS Rich and Skinny in suite 307 and Brand Assembly Square, a project of the Brand Assembly trade show, in a shared workspace showroom on Mezzanine 3.
Early start at Gerry
A certain festiveness was in the air on the top floor of the Gerry Building, where the showroom owners decided to celebrate the last fashion market of the year by putting out tables topped with fresh fruit, nuts and other goodies for buyers.
On the ground floor, the Miriana Ojeda Showroom opened up a large annex space to house labels that wanted to show just for the market or for her own showroom labels.
Generally, everyone was busy on Sunday, one day before the formal opening of the Los Angeles Fashion Market, when the ninth-floor showrooms served gelato in the afternoon.
The market proved to be busy for Karen Kearns, whose Karen Kearns Showroom carries both European and domestic lines such as Butter + Cayenne and La Robe. She said buyers still had budgets to buy Immediates because they had been holding onto their dollars as a cautious mood swept over retailers, but now they were more upbeat. “We did orders for all kinds of deliveries, from Immediates to Spring. And the orders were much more solid and positive than in the past,” Kearns said.
Kearns saw retailers from all over California, Oregon and Colorado and even had one retailer come in from Arkansas who was visiting the Los Angeles Fashion Market for the first time to try out something different.
Helen Wicker, a retailer whose Adornments stores are in Denver and Santa Fe, N.M., was popping into various showrooms at the Gerry Building and was impressed with what she saw. “There is newness to the clothes and people aren’t copying the same tunic,” she said. As an example she pointed to a Lauren Vidal sweater carried at the Arlene Henry Sales showroom that had an artistic flair with painted metallic swooshes and texture.
In the ground-floor annex, where more than 20 brands were exhibiting, the wave of buyers was steady. Pamela Welden, who was sitting at the Ma + Cha booth, said buyers were placing Resort orders for 12/15 delivery and for Spring for the collection, which wholesales from $40 to $100. “The line has been doing very well. Buyers are enjoying the colors and texture of the collection,” she said.
Ma + Cha, formerly known as Marika Charles, is designed by siblings Marika and Charles Contompasis in their upstate New York studio.
Key retailers at Lady Liberty
Lady Liberty drew in a mix of heavy to light foot traffic ranging from major retailers to specialty boutiques at this season’s Los Angeles Fashion Market.
Jana Flumiani, director of sales and merchandising for the Artisan Showroom, featured its Artisan brand along with hosting Tomo handbags. For the first day of the show, retailers Ron Herman, Satine and Wendy Foster stopped by, said Flumiani, with second-day appointments from Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue Mexico and Shopbop.
Along with a good turnout, buyers were also placing orders.
“For being so late in the season and the fact we are officially off sale as of last week, we are hitting home,” Flumiani said. “In October, it is [traditionally] a wind-down for us. We were showing in September in New York, and it was phenomenal,” she continued.
The Globe Showroom was showing an international bevy of brands, including Nour Hammour, Smythe, Rebecca Vallance and Deby Debo.
It was an overall really busy market for Globe, which presented Spring 2017 and Pre-Fall 2017 collections. “It is do-or-die time; people really have to make decisions,” Burton said. “Retailers drawn to “Pre-Fall are established businesses who tend to know what to expect from that designer. Spring is usually for finishing off the season.”
Retailers that came in included American Rag Cie, Neiman Marcus, Forward and Madison and a number of specialty boutiques from Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. People were writing orders, Burton said.
Kristen Aguilera, owner of the One Showroom, said retail is picking up again. Aguilera—who represents BLANK NYC, JACHS Girlfriend, Georgia Mae The Label and Pop Active/Poprageous—added a couple of new lines into the mix, including Shop State of Grace and Piperwest.
All of the labels retail between the $100 to $150 retail price point—“the sweet spot,” Aguilera said.
Although traffic seemed a little more quiet this season, Aguilera said all of the buyers who made appointments for the second day of market showed up, and she was anticipating additional stores to stop by later in the week. The additional shows at LA Market, including newcomer Capsule, may have impacted traffic, she said. Still, major retailers and online stores stopped by the One Showroom, including Revolve, Stitchfix, Kali’s Aspen, BLANKA, Azalea, Mercer, Parts & Labor, Gracies, LuLu’s and Amazon.com. Buyers were looking for Spring 2017 collections as well as Immediates and Resort.
“Our buyers knew they needed to see the collections before we close the season,” Aguilera said.
Buzzing at D&A
Traffic was buzzing at Designers and Agents, where nearly 90 exhibitors showed a mix of designer and contemporary apparel, accessories and footwear.
Designer Calleen Cordero was showing her secondary footwear line, Cor by Calleen Cordero, alongside Elaine Kim’s minimalist designer apparel. The two collections also showed at D&A in New York.
“We’re both based in LA; we’re both made in LA,” said Elaine Kim representative Stephanie Kingsdale.
Kingsdale said she opened 10 new accounts, including “some well-known stores and lots of reorders.”
Cordero said she opened 18 new stores for her Cor collection, which has allowed her to open new accounts in areas where her Calleen Cordero collection is already carried exclusively.
“I’m reaching a whole new market,” she said.
Cordero and Kingsdale said they met primarily with California retailers at D&A as well as buyers from stores in Colorado; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and Hawaii as well as one store from Tennessee.
“I saw way more East Coast in New York,” Cordero said. “I haven’t worked with any East Coast [in Los Angeles], it’s more Hawaii, Colorado.”
It was a similar story at LA Made, where sales representatives Karie Houston and Diane Davis said that while they primarily met with West Coast stores they did have a meeting with New York–based Lord & Taylor at D&A.
Davis noted that business was especially brisk at the last D&A show in June, adding “a lot of Hawaii accounts come out at this time—also Washington and Oregon.”
This was the first time Sharon Brown showed her new loungewear line, Lotte.99. The designer recently moved from Vancouver, Canada, to Los Angeles and produces her collection of pajama sets, nightdresses, camis and knickers in LA and Canada.
“I landed a few orders and made good contacts,” she said.
Another newcomer to the show was Ne Quittez Pas, a Japanese collection of bohemian dresses and separates designed in Japan and produced in Italy. The collection showed twice at D&A in New York, but this was the first time showing the line in Los Angeles, said Kumiko Tsuji.
The 15-year-old collection is well known in Japan and sells in the United States in retailers such as Anthropologie and Calypso but does not yet have a big presence among West Coast stores.
“This is a completely new market for use,” Tsuji said, adding that she met with several local boutiques at the show.
Coeur’s Lifestyle Mix
Coeur, the high-end accessories and lifestyle show, returned to the CMC’s penthouse for the second season with a tightly curated mix of more than 50 collections that included fine jewelry, handbags, loungewear, swim, lingerie and fragrance.
This was the first time at Coeur for swim and resort collection Vix by Paula Hermanny, where sales executive Vanessa Duclos said she made appointments with existing accounts and was hoping to meet potential new ones.
Designer Vanessa Warrack was also a new Coeur exhibitor, showing her Bully Boy lingerie collection and her Minnow Bathers swim label. The two collections are designed and made in-house in Warrack’s studio in Toronto.
“We employ craftsmanship, sewing everything to perfection using high-quality materials,” she said.
Warrack said she was at Coeur to build West Coast business for her lines, which primarily sell in stores in Canada. In the U.S., her collections currently sell in boutiques in New York, New Orleans and Portland, Ore.
This was the sixth show for Variance Objects, the Santa Cruz, Calif.–based fine-jewelry collection founded by Nicole Rimedio and Scott Zankman.
“We carve our own stones, hand fabricate our metals and make everything in our studio in Santa Cruz,” Rimedio said.
The two, who praised the atmosphere and the quality of the exhibitors at Coeur, said they met with a mix of existing accounts and potential new ones at the show.
Another returning exhibitor was New York–based Love Binetti, an accessories collection designed by Diego Binetti.
The collection, which includes handbags and a newly launched throw-pillow line, sells in more than 150 stores, including “quite a few” in California, said sales representative Akansha Lama.
The brightly colored, whimsical line is a good fit for beach stores and museum shops, Lama said.
“We opened a few good accounts,” she said.
Expanded buyers list at LAMM
The LA Men’s Market trade show doubled its travel budget for retailers recently, said Kellen Roland, the biannual show’s founder.
The result was that there were more buyers from boutiques across America at LAMM’s Oct. 18–19 run, which was held on the 10th floor of the “B” wing of the California Market Center. New buyers to the show included Commonwealth, a boutique with two locations in the Washington, D.C., area; Wish from Atlanta; Machus from Portland, Ore.; and Sneaker Politics, with two locations in Louisiana, as well as Japanese retailers.
LAMM also continued its focus on California retailers. Those sending buyers to the show included American Rag, Wittmore, Revolve and Pacific Sunwear.
Increased buyer attendance over the two-day show made vendors’ lives easier, said Keith Costello, national sales manager for the Publish brand and the Team Cozy line. Many LAMM vendors were selling Summer 2017 season collections, a season that is considered not one of the major seasons on the fashion calendar. “It’s hard to get in front of all of these stores during the summer season. Typically, we have to sell all on the road,” he said. Publish was exhibiting its new printable T-shirts program during LAMM as well as looks such as kimonos, woven shirts and the Roll Cap without bills.
But vendors still had to hustle during the show, said Brian Heslop, a cofounder of the Our Agency showroom, which represented brands such as Paterson, Clear Weather, Hayn and Cote et Ciel. “You make your appointments for shows. I did a lot of due diligence and made appointments,” he said.
Reno Calabrese represented the Astronomy brand at the show. Retail buying was healthier than past shows, he said. “Retailers are willing to take a chance on something that is great,” he said. “But in terms of volume, they are putting their money where it’s safe, with brands that have worked well for them previously.”
Another new feature of LAMM was the “What’s Next” show section, devoted to high-end boutique brands such as Carrots by Anwar Carrots, N/A Socks and Lyz Olko. Other brands making their first appearance at LAMM included Maui & Sons and Engineered for Motion. Veteran vendors at the recent run of the show included Stüssy, Obey and Zanerobe. There were 105 brands at the show, Roland said.
Capsule debuts in LA
After nine years of producing trade shows in fashion capitals such as New York and Paris, as well as a show in Las Vegas, Capsule produced its first trade show in Los Angeles. The event ran Oct. 17–18 in the California Market Center. Women’s streetwear and activewear show Axis also ran a satellite show on Capsule’s floor.
For retailer Michael Paradise of The Stronghold boutique in Los Angeles’ Abbot Kinney enclave, Capsule’s Los Angeles engagement was proof that the city was becoming a more important fashion player. “Los Angeles is important in lifestyle fashion such as surf and activewear. Los Angeles has not been as important in ‘fashion,’” he said, noting Capsule’s focus on what the show calls progressive contemporary styles.
“Capsule is run by hip women from New York. They added LA to their shows. Why? Because they decided LA is valid to them,” Paradise said.
For Deirdre Maloney, cofounder of Capsule, doing a Los Angeles show had been a possibility for a while. “We’ve always had an eye on LA; we spend a lot of time here,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of exciting retail come up on the West Coast and innovation from LA that fits well with the progressive, contemporary aesthetic that Capsule brings.”
Over the years, Capsule has received unsolicited requests to do shows in Los Angeles. However, the number of requests surged in the past year. The trade show producer’s retail-relations division asked retailers if they had interest in a West Coast show. Maloney said they got a resounding yes.
The feeling that Los Angeles has been building fashion momentum was shared by many of the 175 vendors who exhibited at Capsule in the “C” wing of the CMC’s penthouse events space.
“LA is having a moment,” said Ty McBride of Intentionally Blank, a footwear brand exhibiting at the show. “There are a lot of stores I didn’t have access to that I met at the show.” Retailers shopping the event included department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and emporiums such as American Rag Cie. But the show seemed to focus on high-end boutiques such as Ron Robinson, Ron Herman, Mohawk General Store, Curve, Need Supply Co., Zebra Club, Nasty Gal and Elisa B from Pasadena, Calif.
The show included a number of collections making their trade show debuts or bowing on the West Coast for the first time. Some of them were Toru & Naoko, a Santiago, Chile, lingerie brand; avant-garde streetwear brand 000Sportswear by Sarah Nicole François from Orlando, Fla.; and Alyson Eastman, a New York luxury leather jacket brand. Downtown Los Angeles boutique The Well previewed its first collection of clothes at the show under its The Well label. It also produced a hairstyling salon at the show and a bar.
Aoui Clothing, a downtown Los Angeles dress brand, also made its trade show debut at Capsule. Its owner and senior designer, Tanya Ramlaoui, judged the first day of the show to be slow because of rain. The second day of the show was busy. She estimated that her buyers placed about half of their orders for Immediate deliveries and half for Spring 2017.
For Arif Aseem of BanoeeMee, a Toronto-headquartered leather outerwear label, the most important thing about Capsule was exposure. “We would appreciate more business, but it is more marketing, connecting with people and going from there,” he said.
At the Axis show, activewear and swim vendors displayed Spring and Summer 2017 styles, Jeremy Somers of Los Angeles–headquartered and Australian-born label We Are Handsome said that one of his label’s big draws was activewear. “All of the key buyers came through. It’s the point of doing shows like this,” he said.
Returning to the Cooper Building’s penthouse for its third year, Brand Assembly had an “amazing” show, according to Hillary France, cofounder and chief executive officer, citing an “exponential increase in business” this edition. With 120 participating brands, including 14 in the show’s Emerging Designer Showcase, the overall mood was upbeat.
Maggie Hansdorfer, who participates in Brand Assembly LA and New York and represents Katherine Kidd, remarked Brand Assembly is “the best” because “it has great relationships with all the right buyers. This show has a great atmosphere, and buyers love it. With [Brand Assembly’s] help, you have all the right buyers see your new product each season.” Hansdorfer wrote orders with Revolve, Nasty Gal and Trend 20 this market.
“The quality of accounts coming through gets better ever season,” said Meagan Lande, West Coast account executive for N:Philanthropy, who worked with Shopbop, KSL Resorts, Red Balloon and Planet Blue.
Brochu Walker, which recently took its sales team corporate, has no permanent West Coast showroom at the moment and participated at Brand Assembly for the first time. “This has been a good show, with great quality of buyers,” said Keiko Pogany, who opened new accounts this show and met with Saks Fifth Avenue Mexico, Mercer in Seattle and Neiman Marcus.
Davey Napoli, vice president of US sales for Camilla, reported not being “crazy busy, but we did see steady traffic throughout the show.”
Polly King Showroom sales executive Amanda House—who represents Designers Remix, Solace London, Shrimps, Self Portrait, Karen Walker and Le Specs—said, “Although spring was a busier show for us, the quality of buyers is better this show, and we are writing a lot larger orders than in the spring.”
Footwear brand Frye tried out Brand Assembly for the first time this market to meet new accounts.
“Not only have we seen all our customers here at this show, but we met with numerous new accounts who are more than just shoe stores—many specialty boutiques who are merchandising their stores with various product categories that we will sit well with,” said Sales Executive Heather Shea.
Activewear, lifestyle at ALT
The ALT show is another relatively new trade show launched by the California Market Center in March 2016. Previously it was called Shape. After a slow start earlier this year, the ALT show has picked up more exhibitors that cover a gamut of styles—from cashmere collections to yoga wear.
This was the first trade show for recently created label For Better Not Worse, a line of graphic T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts based in Pasadena, Calif. The company’s founder, Patricc Reed, formerly the operations director and partner at Groceries Apparel, was searching for an inexpensive trade show for his first exhibit. ALT fit the bill with its $1,000 price tag for a 10-by-10 booth.
Until now, For Better Not Worse has been selling online, but Reed felt the company needed to branch out to stores. “So far, we’ve made some great contacts and have signed three or four accounts,” he said.
This was also the first show for Nagna, a new line of yoga clothes made in Turkey of all-natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk. The company started with hand-loomed yoga towels two years ago and then expanded to clothing after so many people asked for it.
The company now does sequined T-shirts with meditation symbols, casual knit dresses, yoga tops with a built-in bra and yoga pants. The company’s owner, Dee Kalfa, said she saw an ad in Yoga magazine for the show and decided to try it out. “I didn’t have too many expectations. It was a bit slow the first day, and the second day people are showing a little more interest.”
Not far away, Silly Yogi was venturing into its first trade show with the ALT event. The 3-year-old line started byLakhays Collection in Torrance, Calif., has a boho vibe. Jaime Aguilar, the label’s senior graphic designer, who was doubling as a salesperson, said the show had been helpful for making good contacts.
Plus-size show debuts at CMC
The number of trade shows organized by the California Market Center during Los Angeles Fashion Market keeps growing.
The latest addition to the lineup this season was a new plus-size show called Contemporary Curves, which had just under 10 exhibitors who carved out a small niche in the building’s penthouse.
Tashiba Jones-Wilson and her sister, Zakiya Jones, started ZMJ Denim in 2008, but their participation in Curves was their first trade show.
Up until now, they have been selling their edgy and contemporary large-size blue jeans and jackets online. But they would like to expand. “This is why we need to do something like this, focusing on the buyers,” said Tashiba Jones-Wilson, who is also the key costumer for the television show “Blackish.”
The two sisters, both graduates of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, are responsible for the line’s looks, which are manufactured in Los Angeles.
So far, the show had been helpful. “We’ve had some good contacts, and we have to follow up,” Tashiba said, noting they would be visiting a store in Sherman Oaks, Calif., the day after the show closed to talk about sales.
A few booths away, B Collection by Bobeau was showing its recently launched large-size collection, B Curvy by Bobeau Collection, which is a division of parent company Crew Knitwear. Janice Burns, director of sales for the label, said the brand was launched in July and she thought it would get some exposure by attending the newly organized show. But she did find the show was slow. “We’ve seen some customers, but we would like to see a little more.”
Junerose is another recently launched large-size label that has been in the United States for a little more than a year. Its parent company, Bestseller in Denmark, has more than 30 brands worldwide.
But a plus-size brand with a contemporary style for trend-conscious young women was something the company lacked. “We are influenced by the trends and elevated fast-fashion and do six deliveries a year,” said Rachna Mehra, the label’s sales director.
With most of its business is done online, the company is looking for quality retailers. The company opened three new stores at the show.