Brand Assembly

Brand Assembly


Threats of Rain and Coronavirus Slightly Dampen L.A. Market Week

During this edition of L.A. Market Week, when many showrooms at the California Market Center, the Cooper Design Space, the Gerry Building and The New Mart were exhibiting Fall, the rainy weather put a bit of a damper on shopping excursions as buyers visited the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District. Another hurdle during the market, which began March 8 and will be held until March 11, was the growing concern over the spread of the coronavirus, especially after a state of emergency was declared in California by Governor Gavin Newsom on March 5.

CMC debuts new showrooms and a new trade show

A handful of showrooms made debuts at the California Market Center’s remodeled C building during the March L.A. Market.

New CMC showrooms included a Paige-brand showroom as well as footwear and apparel brands Puma and Fila. The multi-brand showroom Money Ruins Everything also made a debut at the CMC, said Matthew Mathiasen, the CMC’s manager for buyer relations.

The O2 Show made its debut on the 13th floor of the CMC during market. About 45 brands exhibited at the show, which was devoted to sustainability, said Eveline Morel, who co-founded the show with Lisa Elliot and Garret Gooch. Vendors exhibiting at the show included American Blossom Linens, which makes bedding out of organic cotton; jewelry by Astor and Orion; and fashion with an art-inspired edge designed by Mike Vensel. Vensel had formerly produced the now-defunct Concept Fashion Week, a satellite show for Los Angeles Fashion Week. O2 represented a trade-show comeback for Vensel, who had not exhibited at any similar events since 2015.

The Label Array show also made a run on the CMC’s 2nd floor during market. Vendors included footwear brands such as Steve Madden and Clarks. Apparel brands such as La Forme’ Jeans also exhibited. Rick Guido, La Forme’ Jeans’ founder, said that he rarely exhibits with footwear brands, but exhibiting with them helped his brand. He made sales to retailers that he would not have met otherwise.

Guido also said that the CMC remodel was going to give better organization to upcoming trade shows. All of the CMC’s fashion showrooms will be located in the C building. “It’s going to be easier for the buyers,” Guido said.

Buyers shopping the building included Macy’s, Dolls Kill and Soles by Warren, Mathiasen said. Sami Ma, who shopped the show, will open a bricks-and-mortar shop for her online boutique Ella Jayms in Valparaiso, Ind., next month. One rising trend at the market was trousers with wide legs, she said.

Culver City, Calif.–based All That & More boutique founder Candance Simmons shopped at the CMC’s Sharon Koshet Showroom. Simmons said that she did not see new trends at the market. “Clothing trends are the same. What you saw last year is what you see this year but with a different name,” she said.

Cooper traffic affected but steady for some

At the Cooper Design Space’s DL1961 Premium Denim showroom, Senior Account Executive Lauren Butler reported that some appointments feared making the trip to Los Angeles and canceled, but those mainly West Coast clients who attended market were interested in new denim styles.

“People are liking cleaner hems and fun denim without all the rips,” Butler said. “They want something that can last.”

With a market week that still had two more days to bring in business, Butler had a message for her clients and colleagues.

“It’s important to come to this market,” she said. “We need to keep jobs growing and continue buying and selling.”

Upstairs at the Cooper’s Brand Assembly show, Halston Director of Sales Kevin McMahon echoed a similar sentiment as he fielded orders from buyers who visited from Kansas, Texas, Alaska and Mexico.

“Support your showrooms and support your brands,” he said. “Be cautious and hold your budgets tight, but support the community or else we’ll all be in trouble.”

After an excellent New York run, but a poor Paris market, McMahon was optimistic about L.A. Market Week, with strong traffic Monday morning as he exhibited Fall, reporting a lot of interest in the line’s sportswear that transitions easily from day to night.

In town from San Francisco, Genea Brooks of the online clothing boutique Joelee’s Closet was shopping for women ages 20 to 45 in standard and plus sizes. Undeterred by coronavirus fears, she was searching for styles with trendy silhouettes, noting that Sundays and Apparis stood out.

“Sleeves are hot right now. I am looking for the different puffy-style sleeves,” she said. “I’m not really looking for any particular colors. I just go with the season. For Summer, I want lighter colors of course, but for Fall I also want lighter colors.”

Also visiting from San Francisco, Sharenthia Pittman was searching for accessories for her online accessories business Kept Collections. While she noted that Rebecca Minkoff featured styles that would resonate with her clientele, she wished more brands would afford options for lower quantities.

“Newer unknowns are open to smaller quantities; bigger names are not,” she said. “I am a small, online boutique. I don’t have the traffic of big stores. When they ask you to spend $20,000 in a year, they might have lovely pieces, but it’s not within my budget.”

Gerry business steady despite challenges

The March market provided solid business, according to vendors working at the Gerry Building. However, anxiety over the coronavirus took a toll on the market, said retailers and vendors working on the Gerry’s ninth floor, where most of the building’s wholesale showrooms are located.

Stuart Marcher of the Julie and Stuart Marcher Showroom said that some of his clients skipped the market due to fears of the coronavirus. “I’m going to spend the next six weeks on the road trying to make this up,” he said. The makeup work will start after the Fashion Market Northern California trade show runs in San Mateo, Calif., April 19–21, Marcher said.

However, he said that the market’s business was steady. “People are still buying, but traffic is thinner. You feel it,” he said.

Holly Hill, who has run her namesake Holly Hill boutique in San Carlos, Calif., since 2011, said she was cautiously optimistic about business in the upcoming quarter.

“Am I committing major dollars? Not today. I’m saving them,” she said while taking a meeting in a temporary showroom where the Morris Agency was exhibiting. It represented brands such as Kay Celine, Dolcezza and French Dressing jeans.

Hill also talked about fashion trends. Animal prints are still trending, she said, but they weren’t dominating. “There are a lot of new solids.” Soft fabrics also have been popular.

A need for an intimate experience at The New Mart

Visiting The New Mart from Manitou, Colo., Patricia Stock of Tak Enterprises, Inc., was walking the building searching for apparel and accessories that would serve tourists as well as locals. Her clientele comprises men and women ages 25 to 64 who expect quality goods made from more-natural materials. As the industry increasingly embraces sustainable practices, Stock was pleased to see more of the goods she wants to buy.

“It’s getting easier, and there is more made in the U.S.,” she said. “My biggest line only shows here, which is Velvet. It’s low-key here, and I don’t want to go to Las Vegas.”

At the 5 Seasons Showroom, Account Executive Cari Ford saw traffic as buyers looked for Summer and Fall goods. Her buyers made appointments to consider trends in plaid, puff sleeves and animal prints at $60 to $120 retail. Ford felt this market was important for buyers to attend due to the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is the true Fall market for L.A., making sure people get those Fall orders in,” she said. “We don’t know what is going on with the coronavirus, so it’s important to get all of those orders in and production in before anything else happens.”

For The New Mart, L.A. Market also includes the Designers and Agents show on the building’s third floor. Representing French brand V.De.Vinster by Virginie de Vinster, Giselle Lelevie of the Circolo Showroom felt the label’s ethically made goods from India, Thailand and Peru would resonate with attendees. Wholesaling between $150 and $300 and based in natural fabrics such as silk, cotton and alpaca wool, the brand attracted interest from Texas, Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., buyers.

“This is the first time I am doing L.A. Market,” Lelevie said. “I feel this is my last chance for buyers to see the collection before the season closes. So, it’s important to be here if you’re late and it’s the last one. If you can make it, you can complete your orders.”

Denver-based buyers from the Adornments shop, owner Consuela Diaz and associate Donna Christopher, noticed a decrease in travelers during their journey to Los Angeles but have been committed to attending the Los Angeles and New York markets.

“There were 60 people on my flight yesterday,” Diaz said as she explained her determination to find unique, artistic pieces. “This is showing the best of the best on this coast.”

For Christopher, the show afforded opportunities to closely examine goods that will sell in the shop for $80 to $500 retail.

“If we don’t come now, we have to buy it online, but we want to touch and feel it. We don’t want to make mistakes,” she said. “We don’t want to go to Las Vegas, so going here and New York is a nice experience for us.”