LA MARKET BRIGHTENS UP
Disappearing Rains Help Buyer Traffic at LA Market
A Los Angeles winter of heavy rains and unprecedented cold weather lifted for buyers attending the March 11–13 LA Market Week.
At the three-day show, buyers were in search of streetwear, colorful prints and anything that was trending, including plaids and stripes, midi skirts and boho looks—plus Immediates for California stores wanting to restock warmer-weather clothing.
At the California Market Center, buyers were greeted with a pop of color at the front lobby, which was decked out in bright umbrellas hanging upside down from the front atrium, lending a certain Mary Poppins feel to the space.
The lobby also featured an arrangement of couches, tables and a tower of USB cords to keep buyers connected in an inviting atmosphere to contemplate their orders and make final buying decisions.
One buyer who took advantage of the comfortable space was Jennifer Manion, who owns the 42 Saint store in Phoenix with her husband, Mark, where they sell slightly edgy men’s and women’s clothing for customers ages 20 to 70. As a buyer who attends market twice a year during March and October, Manion was excited about visiting the T&A Showroom to refresh her inventory.
After emigrating from Romania 24 years ago, Valerica Moldouan, who owns Vali’s Studio in Rocklin, Calif., was expanding her store from a custom-apparel business into a retail boutique. “Formalwear, accessories, dresses for mothers-of-the-bride,” she said, as she explained her focus on this market. “I want unique and different, not something that could be found in every store.”
She was excited about the offerings at the Alberto Makali, Frank Lyman, Elvi, Doris Johnson and Betty Bottom showrooms. She emphasized that she was searching for quality pieces at reasonable prices.
At the Soulstar showroom, Patric Liu reported a slower pace but attributed it to greater access to online shopping. He mentioned that the buyers who did visit his space were interested in new streetwear trends. “The people who came in were interested in track suits, plaids, straps and vertical stripes,” he said.
Sales representative Liz Lugo at the Anu by Natural showroom reported a good show. She received orders for Immediates, Spring and Summer in addition to Fall. Known for the brand’s colorful apparel, ranging from wholesale prices of $6 to $79, buyers were interested in jackets, silk shirts, embroidered scarves, and tops and skirts.
“The business is still strong. You have to keep doing what you do best. You have to follow trends somewhat, but you have to keep your own DNA,” she said. “The market wasn’t bad, and I opened new accounts.”
At the concurrent Label Array show in the CMC, some exhibitors reported slow traffic, but buyers were placing orders. At the Pol Clothing booth, which sells women’s boho fashions, sales representative Ashley Kang reported a lot of new buyers for the Vernon, Calif., business, whose wholesale prices range from $13 to $40.
“We are known for our quality. They came to look and feel the products in person. That is why we go to all the markets,” she said. “Having LA Market—it’s important.”
Consistent sales at The New Mart
Daniel Bohbot, chief executive officer of Hale Bob, estimated that his traffic enjoyed a big spike, with 40 percent more traffic than last year. He credited the relatively warmer weather in Los Angeles for the uptick. “Weather is good. There is excitement at stores. There are more store events,” he said.
Matt Boelk, sales manager for Dear John Denim, said show traffic was okay for the brand. “There were some waves of good traffic, and there were some periods where there seemed to be no one around.”
Management at The New Mart hadn’t done a final count of buyers visiting the market by the end of the show, but building manager Ethan Eller forecasted that it surpassed last year, when 536 retailers registered for the show.
At the Designers and Agents show, on the third floor of the building, 70 vendors exhibited Fall 2019 styles.
But many buyers were focused on placing orders for Immediates. Mattie Ilel of the JP and Mattie brand estimated that 40 percent of her show orders were for Immediates because many retailers were navigating an uncertain market. Because of the recent unusual weather, California buyers are uncertain about what people will be wearing the rest of the year.
Steady market at the Cooper Design Space
Retail traffic was described as steady to light at the Cooper Design Space and the Brand Assembly trade show.
Michael Moshi, chief executive officer for the Lauren Moshi brand, exhibited new leather and Sherpa jackets. He said that retail traffic seemed even with other LA Markets. “It was busy,” he said. “We had new accounts. We saw accounts that we missed at the New York shows.”
Jasmine Tsai, sales manager of the Hatch Showroom, estimated traffic was even with last year’s March show. She saw buyers from Los Angeles retailer Madison as well as Pitken County Dry Goods in Aspen, Colo., and Tootsies in Houston.
Other Cooper showrooms said they saw a slower pace of traffic. “It was a little quieter than usual for a March market,” Israel Ramirez of the Siblings Showroom said. “But we still see a good amount of people each market. Boutiques have had a tough time selling Spring clothing when it is 40-degree weather,” he said.
At the Brand Assembly show, there were 113 booths exhibiting, up from 90 last March, said Adam Eisenhut, Brand Assembly’s vice president of trade shows and community. Retailers shopping Brand Assembly included ShopBop, Revolve and Forward.
Diane Levin of the Diane Levin Showroom was exhibiting at the show and said it had steady traffic. “We saw the same amount of people,” Levin said. “You always end up opening new stores and making your numbers.”
Going at the Gerry Building
At the Impulse Moda showroom, owner Lori Marchand said she was surprised by the number of people who attended the show. “I had people I’ve not seen in quite some time and then new people came in too,” she said. “I think it was better than last year.”
The owners of Rue de Mimo, a longstanding boutique in South Pasadena, Calif., have stayed in business for more than 15 years by stocking unique merchandise that keeps their customers coming in. That is why they were looking at the Ivko label, a colorful ethnic brand made in Serbia, which was being displayed at an auxiliary showroom set up by Miriana Ojeda across from her permanent showroom.