Fashion

Posted by Paul Brindley
on October 15, 2015

Melange Live: Where Fashion Meets Technology

 

Melange Live co-founders, Tom Keefer & Steve Brown open the two day event

Melange Live co-founders, Tom Keefer & Steve Brown open the two day event

Last month I attended the inaugural Melange Live forum in the New Mart building in the downtown Los Angeles fashion district.

Melange was a two day event that created a space for innovators, technologists and fashion visionaries to come together and kibbitz about the rapidly expanding nexus between fashion and technology.

There was a steady flow of panel discussions and presentations by entrepreneurs, punctuated by small group side sessions, general networking and interactions with companies showing their wares in booths.

Hadar Paz, CEO of Powerfront Inc. presenting on the 'Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing'.

Hadar Paz, CEO of Powerfront Inc. presenting on the ‘Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing’.

Hadar Paz, CEO of the Australian owned e-commmerce provider, Powerfront Inc. presented on the ‘Evolution of Chat, The Next Big Thing’. Hadar was highlighting his real-time customer engagement program, Inside.

Darren Goble, Inside’s Customer Success Manager (and fellow Antipodean), explained Inside as “allowing brands and retailers the ability to ‘see’ current online visitors and view their history and behavior in real-time. Inside features an expanding suite of functions that are based on Big Data collected for each individual visitor. A visually impressive back end graphic interface gives customer service and sales staff an engaging 3D live view of website traffic and the customers they are serving right now; and features functionality that can track customer behavior, identify opportunities and proactively engage with potential customers at the right time and in the right context to help increase sales conversion.”

Hadar said of the Melange Live experience, “Very excited to share our technology and we were really encouraged with the response the platform received. We know Inside is a perfect fit with fashion. For the first time, online businesses can now apply long established bricks-and-mortar sales and customer service methodologies into an online environment and dramatically help bridge the disparity gap between online and offline sales conversion percentages.”

I had an interesting conversation with Brian Dainis, Founder & President of Philadelphia based web design and app development company, Curotec. Brian told of Philly’s push to become a technology hub. The  burgeoning tech corridor is centered around North 3rd Street, now pithily renamed, N3RD Street. At this rate, the entire country will be a tech hub. Not a bad thought actually.

Tom's Shoes panel: Sarah Tabbush, Dir. Social Media, Tom's; Liz Heller, Co-Founder, Screenspaces; Ann Lawrence, co-Founder, Pink51.com

Tom’s Shoes panel: Sarah Tabbush, Dir. Social Media, Tom’s; Liz Heller, Co-Founder, Screenspaces; Ann Lawrence, co-Founder, Pink51.com

I particularly enjoyed the Tom’s Shoes panel that focused on consciousness consumerism. I got into the apparel world in 2000 working for Wildlife Works, one of the pioneers of consumer driven conservation. Wildlife Works’ production of organic fabric clothing has saved untold human and animal lives, and protected vast swathes of the globe over the past 20 years.

Day 1 ended with networking drinks and nibbles.

Jim Palmer, the owner of Malibu Vineyards, was pouring the best wine I have tasted this side of Santa Maria.

JoJo Bowen of Bowen’s Whiskey was literally keeping everyone’s spirits up with her excellent small batch American whiskey from the wilds of Bakersfield. Who knew?

I thought attendance on both days was a little thin. However, it was the first of a proposed bi-annual series of Melange events. It was well worth attending. The organizers have given themselves every chance of pulling more of a crowd by wisely situating the forum in the center of the fashion district rather than some trendy domicile. The substance over form approach is refreshing. With so much scope of technology in the apparel industry, I expect the event to grow as the word gets out.

For additional information, I have reposted the California Apparel News review below.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

 

 Apparel News logo

TECHNOLOGY

Fashion Meet Tech at Melange Live Event at The New Mart

photo

OMNI-CHANNEL PANEL: Lauren Croke, director of Web and e-commerce for Eileen Fisher; Suzanne Hader, chief marketing officer for Halston; Alex Golshan, vice president of e-commerce/omnichannel at BCBGMaxAzria group; and moderator George Shaw, head of R&D for RetailNext

The worlds of fashion and technology merged at the launch of Melange Live, a conference that explored new developments in e-commerce, mobile/digital payments, brand building using social media and new innovations in wearable technology.

“It has become a mobile-first world,” said Tom Keefer, who cofounded and organized the Sept. 16–17 event at The New Mart in downtown Los Angeles. Tom Keefer is a Los Angeles–based youth-marketing specialist who has worked with Newsweek Intl., LA Gear, K-Swiss,Mattel and the BBC Worldwide Global Licensing Team.

In recent years, the term “omni-channel” has become the buzzword for retailers looking to merge their bricks-and-mortar, online and mobile platforms. But as consumers become more comfortable navigating and shopping on these platforms, the distinction between them has become blurred.

Omni-channel, George Shaw, head of R&D for RetailNext, said, is “really the latest name for shopping.”

Shaw moderated a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of omni-channel retailing, featuring panelists Lauren Croke, director of Web and e-commerce for Eileen Fisher; Suzanne Hader, chief marketing officer for Halston; and Alex Golshan, vice president of e-commerce/omni-channel at BCBGMaxAzria group.

“When we look at how things have changed over the last 10 to 15 years and where things are in terms of instant gratification, the younger generation, that’s all they know,” Golshan said.

The challenge is getting different departments with different procedures, or legacy systems, in place to cooperate.

“The customer doesn’t care about your legacy systems,” Golshan said. “At the end of the day, you don’t want to get gridlocked on who gets the sale credit for which channel. If you have a customer who wants something, you should be able to pull from your wholesale bucket. You need an executive team that is focused on doing the right thing for the customer.”

For many customers, the biggest challenge is finding the right product in the correct size. Manufacturers and retailers need access to real-time inventory in order to meet that demand.

“With Eileen Fisher the bottom line hasn’t always been our driver,” Croke said. “Eileen has always been about solving customers’ problems. We need to break down the hurdles between visibility and inventory.”

What’s needed is a cultural change within organizations and within the inventory, Golshan said.

“You never want to have a situation where you’re sold out in one channel and not allowed to tap into other channels,” he said.

The panel also discussed the challenge of price discrepancy across retail channels.

“There are specific times of year [for example, Black Friday] when you know you’re going to be outpriced by some of your retailers,” Hader said.

“Our approach to omni-channel is really content-based,” she said, explaining that mobile information can be “a ride-along” to a consumer’s in-store shopping experience. Hader said Halston strives to provide customers with “a compelling second-screen presentation” by giving them news about celebrities wearing Halston or offering wardrobe advice and brand information.

“For us, a big focus is blurring the line between digital and physical,” Croke said. “When I started it was how to take the best elements of the store and bring it online. Now it’s the inversion. The store is still the place where we can drive customers. If somehow we were exposing inventory online and on time, we would understand the customer coming into the stores and we could curate the local environment.”

Golshan agreed, noting that there is a lot of online data that brands do not have access to.

“If we had access to that rich data in the store, it would help us understand customers across channels.”

Retail innovations

From Apple Pay to location-based marketing, there are several upcoming technological developments for retailers to provide better customer service and a more-engaging shopping experience.

Retailers are now challenged to keep up with the new technology. One of the worst experiences with technology is if it doesn’t work, said Marie Driscoll, CFA director for the Fung Business Intelligence Unit at Li & Fung.

Driscoll said GPS-enabled apps allow retailers to engage customers while they’re shopping in their competitors’ stores and discussed the impact of “Uber-fication,” or the sharing economy of websites such as Rent the Runway on the traditional business model.

The H.E.N.R.Y. consumer—described as “high-earners but not rich yet”—might not be able to afford to buy a designer handbag but could afford to rent one.

“They can live the lifestyle they can’t afford in an Uber economy,” Driscoll said.

Test-tube textiles and other developments

Kristine Upesleja, chief executive officer of Madisons-Innovative Textiles and an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, gave attendees an overview on wearable tech and new developments in what she calls “fashion engineering.”

The popularity of “wrist tech,” such as fitness trackers, is expected to drive interest in technology-enabled clothing such as activewear that measures your breathing and heart rate.

Upesleja highlighted new developments such as the Jins Meme smart glasses, which lets users navigate their cell-phone home screen using their eyes. Sensors in the glasses read the wearer’s blinks and eye movements. Bragi’s “Dash” wireless earbuds act as noise-canceling headphones and can track athletic performance. There is a new incarnation of the mood ring that measures if the wearer is angry or stressed and then sends meditation advice to a cell-phone app. The tech company Cute Circuit is integrating washable conductive ribbons into garments that enable the clothing to be connected to the Internet and be functional.

Upesleja also discussed new textile developments from 3-D printing to bioprocesses that “grow” nonwoven textiles from cellulose-based bacteria and bio-fabricated leather generated from animals’ skin cells.

“Fashion hasn’t changed much; you still need to dye, cut, sew and finish,” Upesleja said. “The fundamentals remained the same for centuries. Today is a brand-new day.”

Posted by Paul Brindley
on August 26, 2015

Las Vegas Apparel Trade Shows Spring16: August 16-19, 2015

“It was fantastic. Our best show ever.”IMG_20150818_130024

“It was OK. Just like usual”.

“It was quiet. Foot traffic was down.”

I got the same old three responses from sales agents to the same old question on the last day of the 3-day bi-annual behemoth round of Las Vegas apparel trade shows last week.

The same old question? “How was the show?”

Most agents answered with the middle of the three responses. I usually concur. I generally find it difficult to divine the success of the massive Vegas trade shows. Who is walking the aisles? Buyers? Agents? Industry types? Exhibitors? There might be lots of bodies about but how much business is being written. However this time, I thought it was a better than average week across all shows. I have reposted a California Apparel News review below.

There are reviews of the individual shows at the Apparel News Trade Shows page.

I did have one industry veteran at Project Women’s whose opinion I respect tell me that buyer traffic was down significantly, and that it has been steadily declining over recent years. Her comment was, “Women’s apparel is struggling. Retail is struggling. We used to be so much busier at this show.”

The last few show weeks have had staggered starts. The Modern Assembly shows – Liberty, Agenda, Capsule, MRKET, Accessories The Show and Stitch at the Venetian Hotel Convention Center and the Sands Expo started on the Monday with all the MAGIC shows at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Convention Center and Las Vegas Convention commencing on the Tuesday. This time was an all Monday kick-off.

Kids Love Gate shoes from Japan at Liberty

Kids Love Gate shoes from Japan at Liberty

Last week’s jailbreak start created a smoothing out of the foot traffic over the Monday and Tuesday, which are the busiest days of the week. With the previous staggered starts, the Modern Assembly shows were very busy on the Monday. The buyer, media and industry hoards invaded the MAGIC shows on the Tuesday. The usual frenetic Monday morning at Liberty was clearly calmer this time. The first day energy was dissipated at all the venues.

You can scroll through my favorite picks of the week at my Instagram page.

I use Instagram to record and share the brands and collections that pop because they are different or interesting or adventurous or have potential or generally catch my eye. The shoes from Kids Love Gate on the right are an example.

The New York round of Spring16 trade shows are in the middle of September. I expect the momentum to continue. As my industry friend commented retail is struggling, but it seems the apparel industry has decided that there are better days coming soon. I hope they are right.

Paul Brindley
Principal Adviser
paul brindley consults

 

Apparel News logo

 

 

TRADE SHOW

Buyers Navigate Changed Format at Las Vegas Trade Shows

photo

Sourcing at MAGIC featured fabric and trim resources, domestic and international sourcing, resources, and technology suppliers.

photo

Saint James at Stitch

 

photo

Johnny O at MRket

photo

Show producers Sam Ben-Avraham and Sharifa Murdock at Liberty

photo

The White Crow booth at Project Women’s

photo

The Skies Are Blue booth at WWDMAGIC

photo

Rob Jungmann of the Jungmaven brand, pictured left at the Jungmaven booth at Capsule

photo

Marlies Dekkers at CurveNV@MAGIC

photo

Teresa Gipson, Evelyn Toles and Barbara Hawthorne show off the hats from Scruples Originals, which had a booth at the WWIN show.

photo

Agave at The Tents at Project

photo

Silk screening tote bags at Pooltradeshow

photo

Karl Kani at Agenda

photo

Johnnie Loves June at Accessories The Show

LAS VEGAS—The landscape of the Las Vegas trade shows changed again as the giant UBM Advanstar, owner of the MAGIC Marketplace and Project, re-merchandised the layout of its shows.

For the shows’ Aug. 17–19 run, ENKVegas was renamed Project Women’s, MAGIC Men’s was renamed The Collective, and the Pooltradeshow moved from a lower-level space in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center back to a space adjacent to Project on the main level.

At the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sourcing at MAGIC moved from the South Hall to the North Hall, and MAGIC’s newest partner show, CurveNV@MAGIC, bowed in a dedicated space at the back of the Central Hall next to WWDMAGICPlayground was in the North Hall, and the convention center’s South Hall featured footwear brands and sourcing resources showing at FN Platform and WSA@MAGIC.

In addition to the trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, buyers also shopped the Modern Assembly shows at the Sands Expo & Convention Center and The Venetian, including Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs, Agenda,Capsule, MRket, Stitch and Accessories The Show as well as the Offprice show, also held at the Sands. Buyers also visited the WWIN (Womenswear in Nevada) show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino and Kidshow at Planet Hollywood.

With so much ground to cover, some retailers had to ration the time spent at each show. That was the case for Don Zuidema, co-owner of the West Hollywood, Calif.–based menswear boutique LASC, who said he thought the many trade shows running concurrently in Las Vegas impacted attendance.

“I don’t see as many people [at the shows],” he said.

At the Velvet Heart booth at WWDMAGIC, owner Moshe Tsabag said traffic came in waves.

“We get a few people and then the booth is full. It’s been like this all day since we opened,” he said on opening day.

Tsabag said he was seeing a good response to the contemporary line Velvet Heart and the company’s new young contemporary brand, Free Heart. Buyers from Nasty Gal, ModCloth and Bloomingdale’s stopped by the booth.

“People are building inventory because they feel confident in business,” Tsabag said.

Peter Burke, chief executive of PJ Salvage, was equally upbeat about current market conditions. (The Irvine, Calif.–based sleepwear and loungewear company was recently acquired by Tel Aviv–based Delta Galil Industries Inc.)

Burke, who was also showing at WWDMAGIC, said retailers have told him that business is growing. “I think we’ll have a good holiday,” he said.

The first part of the year was challenging for many Midwest retailers, who saw business affected by bad weather, said Greg Garrett, co-owner of Irvine-based Z Supply, which produces the White Crow and Black Swan collections. But many of those retailers saw business pick up following the Fourth of July holiday, Garrett added. “We’re getting an early read on fall right now,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of reorders.”

At the Pooltradeshow, exhibitors were pleased that the show was adjacent to Project this season.

“I’m really happy it’s connected to Project,” said Freddie Rojas, designer of the Los Angeles–based Rojas line. “We get a lot of walk-through traffic.”

Rojas said buyers are starting to feel more confident. “They are looking for new things no one else has to be more competitive and to stand out.”

Bryn Thomas, head of sales for Los Angeles–based Lip Service, said he thought traffic would have been stronger if the trade-show schedules had been staggered. A few years ago, when the shows at the Mandalay Bay opened a day earlier than the shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Thomas said, the company had one of its best shows ever and opened several new stores.

“Sales were up at least 20 percent for all brands,” he said.

Pierre-Nicholas Hurstel, ‎chief executive office of CURVExpo Inc., which organized the CurveNV@MAGIC show, described the event—the first in partnership with MAGIC—as a “very successful relaunch.”

The show featured a mix of lingerie, swimwear, sleepwear, loungewear and hosiery resources.

For many of the swimwear exhibitors, CurveNV@MAGIC came at the end of a season of swim shows, but several said the Las Vegas show gave them a chance to meet with boutique and resort buyers who may not have attended the earlier shows.

“This is a great platform for new business and resort buyers,” said Debby Martin, national sales manager/retail marketing for Irvine, Calif.–based swim brand L*Space by Monica Wise, which is a longtime exhibitor at CurveNV.

Nathan Chera, who represents the Anne Cole SignatureCole of California and Anne Cole Locker brands, also said he saw a lot of resort and boutique brands. Chera said his company previously showed with other swim brands at MAGIC.

“This year is definitely better than last year,” he said.

Sands Expo and The Venetian

Now in its third year, the Liberty Fairs trade show has been tweaking its product mix since it first launched in August 2013.

“We finally got the flow of the show perfect,” said show founder Sam Ben-Avraham. “We have 20 percent of brands every season revolving [out of the show]. When it’s not the right mix, it interferes with the show. This season we had the ultimate brand selection.”

For Jim Kremer of Australian brand Shoreditch London, traffic at Liberty seemed a bit slow, but overall the show was successful.

“All of the people we wanted to see came to the booth,” he said.

Robert Myers, designer of SLVDR, said he thought traffic was on par with last year, but he expected sales to increase 25 percent over last year’s show.

Chris Josol, with the Los Angeles–based Flagshipshowroom, said he saw buyers from Amazon.com,Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Urban Outfitters and Need Supply Co.

“People come to Vegas to finalize their orders,” he said.

At Capsule, George Vause, USA sales and operations manager for the New Zealand–based brand I Love Ugly, said the show’s timing helps wrap up the season.

“It’s the finale,” he said. “It’s when you close orders and lock down accounts and pick up the money.”

That said, Vause added, “You always get a buyer who waits for Vegas to do all of their ordering.”

Vause said he typically sees more of the brand’s West Coast buyers as well as Japanese retailers at the Las Vegas show.

“This is our best show,” said Brian Chan, founder of the Whittier, Calif.–based men’s brand Wolf & Man.

By the second day of the show, Wolf & Man had picked up orders from 20 stores.

This season, streetwear veteran Karl Kani was introducing his newly relaunched Karl Kani collection at Agenda. This was the first time in a decade that his brand exhibited at a trade show.

“People had been hearing the buzz that Karl Kani is back,” he said. “We wanted to establish that the brand is really out.”

Traffic was so busy at the show that Kani said he did not have time to leave the booth all day.

Stitch, MRket and Accessories The Show, the three shows organized by Business Journals Inc., were held in an adjoining space at the Sands.

Stitch, which consists primarily of contemporary womenswear, was brisk with business. This was the first time that Lori Marchand, owner of the Impulse Moda showroom at the Gerry Building in Los Angeles, was exhibiting her lines. She said she was doing particularly well with velvet burnout tops by Hariri.

Kristy Kurtmen was showing her family’s Kurtmen line of colorful leather cowboy boots, purses and leather bands at Accessories The Show. Her family designs and manufactures the boots and purses in Martindale, Texas, outside of Austin. They have been attending the show for five years and finding a following in the South, Midwest and West for their boots, which wholesale for $289 to $439. “The show has really, really been great,” she said.

At MRket, which showcases more-traditional menswear, exhibitors who made appointments were doing well. Tim Tobin, the regional salesperson for Robert Graham Clothing, was exhibiting dress shirts, tailored clothing and neckwear made by licenseeShirt Avenue in New York.

Shirt Avenue recently got the license for tailored clothing and neckwear and was eager to show the line. “It has been good,” Tobin said, noting that there was a cocktail party on the night of Aug. 17, the first day of the show, at the Mandalay Bay to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Robert Graham Clothing.

The Offprice show, held in the ground floor of the Sands, saw a 5 percent increase in exhibitors, according to Stephen Krogulski, chief executive officer of the show. The recent show featured 500 vendors exhibiting at 1,300 booths.

Offprice’s attendance has expanded from its base of traditional off-price retailers to include everything from individual Ebay sellers to independent grocery stores looking to add new products such as clothing basics and licensed goods such as sports team apparel.

Womenswear in Nevada

At the WWIN show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel, specialty-store buyers were in abundance. The show lasted for four days—from Aug. 17 to Aug. 20—while most of the other apparel trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center held court for three days. The WWIN show’s traffic on the first day was helped by the fact that it was open until 8 p.m. and serving cocktails.

Becky Paulson, owner of two A Corner Cottage stores in Greenwood, Tenn., attends WWIN because the merchandise she finds there appeals to two different generations. She was looking for reasonable prices and trendy styles, such as tunics, that can be worn by both a mother and her grown daughter.

Tina Dyba, owner of Diamond Diva in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin, said she was searching for feminine Western wear and trying to keep her retail prices to under $100. “It’s hard to sell to shoppers right now,” she said. “It is all about price and not about quality.”

Sourcing at MAGIC

In addition to the apparel and accessories trade shows in Las Vegas, retailers and brands looking for sourcing resources shopped factories and resources from around the world in the packed North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This season, the focus of the Sourcing at MAGIC show was wearable technology. Companies such as DuPont were showing off their stretchable inks for wearable electronics.

Jon Lou, a Staten Island, N.Y.–based startup, talked about its development of a fashionable handbag that can charge your phone or tablet and light up inside when opened.

While the emphasis might have been on new technologies, there were a lot of old-technology clothing manufacturers from around the world at the show. Governments and trade-promotion agencies sent companies from countries including Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guatemala, Peru and Colombia.

There was a contingent of 65 companies sponsored by the Indian government. One of those was Aman Sadh of Aman Fashion, who has one factory with 150 workers outside of New Delhi. This was his first Sourcing show in Las Vegas.

But he wasn’t writing that many orders because his minimums are 10,000 to 20,000 pieces. “People are coming by and asking for 500 to 1,000 pieces,” he complained. He said he can’t keep his wholesale prices down if he does small minimums. His shorts wholesale for $1.50, and dresses range in price from $5 to $8.

But he will be back because he wants to expand his U.S. business. “We have to participate for two to four years for it to click,” he said.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on August 07, 2015

I Don’t Want To Say I Told You So – Mid-Year Economic Forecast: Signs of Strength Tempered With Notes of Caution

.. but I told you so.economy_blogimage

In my article, Full Steam Ahead for US Economy in 2015? – Just Hold Your Horses There from February, I rebutted an assersion in the California Apparel News article, Full Steam Ahead for 2015 as Economy Accelerates and Gas Prices Drop from January that “just about everyone agrees that 2015 is shaping up to be a good year for the U.S. economy”.

I won’t restate my case. You can read the article yourself.

In short, 2015 has been a very choppy economic year on many levels. The stock market has been swinging wildly, the job market is still soft, wage growth is non-existent, retailers are struggling badly, the negative effects of international events have been a drag and the bizarre inverse relationship between the health of the economy and the effects of the prospect of a Reserve Bank interest rate rise is ever more evident. I mean how is it that the Reserve Bank thinks the economy is strong enough to consider an interest rate rise but even the consideration of a rise is forcing the stock market down?

The phenomenon is explained by Robert R. Johnson, President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PN, and author of “Invest with the Fed.” He said the following about the effects of a rate hike on the markets in an interview with Forbes:

The market will likely react very negatively in the short-term and continue to perform poorly over the long-term. Some pundits are claiming that the market may view a rate hike as positive for the stock market because it signals that the Fed believes the economy is sound.  I disagree.

The research presented in Invest With The Fed shows that long-term stock market performance has been dramatically better in expansive monetary policy environments than in restrictive monetary policy environments.  Expansive monetary environments are defined as those periods during which the Fed is lowering rates.  Alternatively, restrictive monetary environments are when the Fed is raising rates.

Over a 48-year period from 1966 through 2013, the S&P 500 (SPY) returned 15.18% during expansive periods and only 5.89% during restrictive periods.  The Fed was expansive and restrictive about the same amount of time.  One of the most interesting findings of our research is that stock market returns are not as correlated with the level of interest rates (whether rates are high or low) as they are with the direction of interest rates (whether rates are trending up or down).

With all that said, the uneven economic performance of the first half of 2015 has validated the measured approach to the year that I was advocating in February. Such prudence seems to have been internalized by many in the financial media and the business community.

Following is a repost of an article from an early July edition of California Apparel News with which I mainly agree. There is no burying the lead here. It’s all in the title – Mid-Year Economic Forecast: Signs of Strength Tempered With Notes of Caution.

The only point I would argue with is with the prospects for retail in California. I think we are going to play out a weak retail year. My discussions with independent retailers in the greater Los Angeles area reveal an unhappy retail environment. There have been too many very slow days this year. With lack of quality jobs out there and virtually no wage growth for those with jobs, it is impossible for there to be a significant uptick in retail activity unless we go back to the very bad old days of shopping on plastic.

2015 may turn out to be the best economic year since The Great Recession (a.k.a The Great Financial Crisis or GFC in other parts of the world) but I think it is going to continue to splutter all the same.

Some see a strong second half: Kiplinger’s Economic Outlooks

Bloomberg agrees: Signals Flashing Green for U.S. Economy as 2015 Road Clears

Some think we are headed for catastrophy: Doom and gloom: 2015 global recession warning from financial seers of the century

Who knows? After so many lean years and so many false dawns of better days, I think its best to do to what so many of us have done since 2008: stay in the present, keep your resources close, carefully manage your spending and cash flow, and be very much the more financially wiser for the experience whether you are running a business or a household or your own finances.

Paul Brindley
Principal Adviser
paulbrindleyconsults.com

——————

Apparel News

Finance

Mid-Year Economic Forecast: Signs of Strength Tempered With Notes of Caution

California’s economic outlook for the remainder of the year is good, but it’s not exactly time to pop the champagne cork because the forecast is served with a helping of caution.

A recent economic report by the UCLA Anderson School of Management showed strong job recovery across the U.S. and in California and forecast increased growth in construction, business investment and consumer demand.

“I think things are on solid footing,” said Esmael Adibi, the director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University.

The year got off to a slow start, due to several factors, including the work slowdown and chassis shortage during contract negotiations at West Coast ports, which left holiday merchandise stranded on cargo ships. But Adibi said in recent years, the first quarter has been typically been slow.

“Our first quarter for the last 10 years has been lower than what should have been,” he said. “Barring any unexpected events, we think the remainder of [this] year is going to show strong growth in terms of real GDP.”

Events such as the Greek financial crisis threaten to affect the U.S. economy for the remainder of the year, but with no such impediments, Adibi said, the country and the state could see job growth continue.

“That suggests that job creation, which has been relatively strong for the U.S. and California, is going to continue to be strong,” he said. “Job creation is the most important factor affecting California’s economy and consumer spending, retail and manufacturing.”

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) pegged the employment forecast as flat for nondurable goods in its recent “Los Angeles: People Industry and Jobs 2014–2019” report.

But Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association (CFA), said the LAEDC’s employment numbers don’t paint the full picture of the apparel industry’s economic health.

“You really can’t talk about the industry as a monolith,” she said.

The state’s employment numbers for apparel manufacturing are down, but the value of imported goods is significantly improved.

“In terms of apparel and textile sales [and the] value of shipments in the LA region, we are above 2010 and 2011 levels—and 2011 was our biggest year,” Metchek said. “It’s not made here, [but] it is part of the industry [and] it is not reflected in the employment numbers.”

Retail rebound?

Traditionally, summer in California has been strong for the state’s retailers, who typically benefit from tourism spending, Chapman’s Adibi said.

“It all goes back to the broader economy,” he said. As the job picture improves, people will have more discretionary income to spend on travel and tourism activities.

“Tourism should be very strong this year,” he said. “The only negative is foreign tourism is not going to be as strong because the dollar is strong. We’re not expecting as many foreign tourists. They will still come—but not as many as you would hope for.”

Still, more discretionary income overall points to good prospects for California retail.

“When it comes to the retail sector, there is some good news,” Adibi said. In addition to a better job market, consumers have also reduced their debt load, and there’s the “positive wealth effect” of a strong stock market and higher home prices, Adibi said.

“People feel good when they’re a little bit wealthier,” he said.

Plus, the ongoing low gas prices promise to also have a favorable effect on retail spending.

“We have not fully seen the benefit of lower gas prices in terms of shopping,” Adibi said. “I think that’s going to kick in as people realize gas prices are not going to spike back up.”

The only negative Adibi noted was the “anemic wage growth.”

“Even those people who have had jobs haven’t seen a significant raise,” he said, but added, “I think the positives are going to offset this negative, and consumer spending should be relatively strong for the remainder of the year, which should help the retail sector.”

A recent report by real estate investment commercial real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap found that commercial real estate developers are accelerating the timeline on several projects in response to “heightened demand” and pre-leasing commitments are “above 80 percent, indicative of pent-up demand from retailers seeking premium space.”

But according to CFA’s Metchek, some of that demand is coming from non-traditional and start-up retailers. Online retailers are looking for go “clicks to bricks” to drum up additional sales, she said.

“You have the malls opening up their leasing space to start-up companies—not just legacy brands—because they need people to fill the space,” she said.

The retail sector is very fractured, Metchek said, adding that the bricks-and-mortar retailers who are faring the best are those with a “significant online following that brings [shoppers] back into the store.”

New retailers—such as H&M’s minimalist sister brand, COS, which opened its second U.S. store late last year in Beverly Hills—see strong business because they’re the “new kid on the block,” she said.

But Metchek says she sees such success stories as “Peter to pay Paul.”

“That business is coming from somewhere else,” she said. “The business in Eagle Rock or Echo Park or Silver Lake is coming from Robertson. If somebody’s hot, somebody else is cold.”

What’s needed is a significant fashion shift to drive consumers to the store.

“There is nothing you need to buy now to make yourself feel current—even for a fashionista,” Metchek said. “When the contemporary consumer —these people who are fashion leaders—think of a new look, then you’ll see business turn around.”

Posted by Paul Brindley
on July 15, 2015

REVIEW: Agenda Long Beach, July 2015 – Agenda LB continues evolving and diversifying

The Agenda Long Beach tradeshow that filled the Long Beach Convention Center last week on July 8 and 9 with over 750 action sports, lifestyle, sportswear, accessories and industry services brands stayed on its recent steady progression of attracting a broader diversity of exhibitors and attendees.IMG_20150709_134735

Long gone are the days of the overwhelmingly skater and surfer crowd. With Agenda WMNS, The Woods and now, Resource adding to the mix, the beer still flows early but its not all young male tee-shirt and cap wearing shredders doing the drinking anymore.

Agenda Long Beach is the most fun of all the trade shows that I attend. There is a party atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, the brands are their to do business but if you can do that business with a beer in your hand at 11AM on the first morning, go for it.

A heart starter at The Mad Hueys booth on Day 1

A heart starter at The Mad Hueys booth on Day 1

That is exacly what was happening at the The Mad Hueys booth when I was introduced to one of the Australian owners of the brand by my good mate and top notch photographer, Adrian Wlodarczyk of Shapeshift Photography. The Mad Hueys hails from the Gold Coast in Queensland where a good amount of Aussie cheeky irrevence has influenced the logo tees and caps.

The Mad Hueys have secured a US licensing deal and should be spicing up a surf store near you soon.

The action sports and streetwear section, The Berrics was crowded and boisterous as usual. The aisles between the large, built out booths clog with vendors, buyers and media getting a look at the latest from the major action brands.

I have more than enough shoes but still like to admire the offerings in the footwear section. My personal fav this time was the Gola booth. Gola was one of THE brands of my teenage years. It is good to see that they are looking better than ever.

In Agenda WMNS, I caught up with the Australian sister brands, Tiger Mist and Rise of Dawn. The owner, Stevie Pallister and the Brand Manager, Yvette Collis are back in town from Melbourne to show the latest offerings from both lines and their latest addition, Rise.

Yvette Collis, Brand Manager of Tiger Mist at Agenda LB

Yvette Collis, Brand Manager of Tiger Mist at Agenda LB

The very attractive fashion fashion price points ($99 max. retail) of the print driven Tiger Mist and Rise of Dawn collections have a strong following with Revolve, Nasty Gal, Asos and Forever 21.

Yvette told me that The Nasty Gal buyer was at the show. Other exhibitors mentioned Finish Line, Modcloth and Urban Outfitters attending. Apparel News reported so were buyers from Nordstrom, Pacific Sunwear, Zumiez, Tilly’s, Zappos, Jack’s Surf, Need Supply Co., Pilgrim, Black Market, Bodega and Convert Man.

Rise is a basics collection with sleek fashion styling in block colors and black and whites utilizing assemetry and mesh among other signature fabrications and styles, all at the same price points as the sister labels.

Yvette said that they were very happy with the activity at the show. The other booths at WMNS didn’t seem to be doing much business.

It was then off to The Woods section which reminds me of mini Capsule with a sophiscation of design and use of premium materials to produce contemporary and progressive active and sports wear.

The Woods is a mix of legacy brands like Kennington, Volley  (they still sell the same styles I wore playing tennis at school) and  Goorin Bros along side emerging labels such as Alite Designs, Native and the Australian dual gender label, Handsome Me.

Joe Dikdan, BDM of Ramp Logistics inthe new Agenda Resource

Joe Dikdan, BDM of Ramp Logistics in the new Agenda Resource

I liked the addition of the Resources section which showcased manufacturing, technology, and logistics providers in the apparel industry including NuORDER, Paypal, Shopify and Lightspeed POS.

Joe Dikdan, Business Development Manager at the apparel specialist Ramp Logistics, was happy with the activity in Resource.

He said it will be difficult to quantify the effectiveness of the show until all the follow up is done and subsequent business starts to flow.

Joe saw bricks and mortar retailers looking for ecommerce solutions and fulfilment services, and brands needing his full service logistics.

Businesses were leaving cards and requesting follow up, and taking his flyers which Joe thought was very positive proactive engagement that he wouldn’t have experienced by just walking the show and networking.

“I’m glad we did it” is always good to hear.

Although not a Spring season trade show, the July edition of Agenda Long Beach feels like the kick off of the Spring trade show circus that will continue through to LA Market Week in mid-October. We are now coming out of the doldrums of Summer for wholesalers.

Next stop, the massive Las Vegas round of Spring16 trade shows from August 17-19. This is the biggest contemporary apparel wholesaling week of the year.

Despite the continuing weak retail conditions (Apparel News reported that sales measured by an index of independent surf and skate shops, kept by ActionWatch, a market-research group, declined 2.4 percent for the period of January to May 2015 compared with the same time in the previous year), there was optimism and buying activity at Agenda LB.

The financial press is predicting a modest upswing in the economy for the second half of 2015. Let’s hope that translates into the retail sector. If it does, there will not be enough time for the improvement to be felt by the time of the Las Vegas shows in mid-August. I’ll be interested to see if retailers have got wind of better times by then. Will let you know.

Paul Brindley
Principal Adviser
paul brindley consults

Posted by Paul Brindley
on July 07, 2015

Rules of Attraction: Tips and Advice for Getting Attendees to Visit Your Trade Show Booth

With the Spring16 round of fashion trade shows almost upon us, I thought this a useful time to repost an article from California Apparel News in May that includes insights from an outstanding group of trade show producers on the preparation and execution of exhibiting at their shows.

Liberty Las Vegas Fall15

Liberty Las Vegas Fall15

While much of the information is straightforward and obvious, it does provide a refresher for those experienced hands heading into another season of shows, and may provide some new insights to those new to the US fashion trade show circuit.

The article also puts faces and names to the producers of some of the most well-known and successful showcases around the country.

The crux of the advice is:

  1. Prepare – use all avenues both direct and indirect to advertise your participation to prospective buyers. Pre-show calls, and email and social media outreach are vital. As much as possible, ensure your booth look and feel matches your brand aesthetic. Plan in detail the merchandising of your booth.
  2. Be proactive – be open, available, organized and knowledgeable during the show to maximize your opportunities with buyers. Ensure the booth is clean and uncluttered, your cell phone is charged, you have a system to record prospects and foot traffic enquiries, and line sheets and marketing collateral are easily accessible. Step out and engage prospects.
  3. Follow up – you have spent valuable resources to attend the show. Make sure that all prospects not matter how warm are followed up. Make sure your team asks prospects how and when they would like to receive follow up. Make sure the instructions are noted and followed accordingly.

Good luck. I hope the coming season is a success for everyone involved.

I will be reporting from Agenda Long Beach that starts tomorrow at the Long Beach Convention Center. Let the shows begin!

Paul Brindley
paul brindleyconsults.com

 

CAN logo

TRADE SHOW

Rules of Attraction: Tips and Advice for Getting Attendees to Visit Your Trade Show Booth

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to expose your brand or services to a wide range of potential buyers, but there’s more to it than simply showing up and waiting for attendees to stop by. Although there’s no substitute for pre-show planning, there are still ways to attract buyers once the show has begun. From well-merchandised displays and dedicated greeters to snacks and giveaways, exhibitors have a number of ways to draw attendees to their booth or showroom.

California Apparel News recently caught up with several trade-show organizers to ask for tips and advice for exhibitors looking to generate excitement and attract more buyers at the trade show.

photo

Aaron Levant, Founder, Agenda

www.agendashow.com

Agenda is different from many shows in that we actually discourage brands from creating a lot of excitement at their booths. We have stringent rules in place to prevent brands from having any type of amplified sound, promotional models or giveaways in front of their booths. We also have guidelines for the displays, such as how tall a booth can be, and restrict the amount of additional fixtures or signage outside of what we provide. The look of our booths is tightly curated to encourage a focus on product rather than the aesthetics of the booth.

We encourage our brands to show special or exclusive items that are only available if a buyer orders at the show to promote transactions on site. We try to encourage our brands to use the show as a vehicle to engage in meetings with existing and prospective customers, and we encourage them to set appointments and management meetings at the show.

 

photo

Britton Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, BJI Fashion Group

MRket, AccessoriesTheShow, Stitch

www.mrketshow.com

www.accessoriestheshow.com

www.stitchshows.com

MRket, AccessoriesTheShow and Stitch are highly juried trade shows, and, by providing the right atmosphere for our attendees, the show floors are easy to navigate and naturally create a sense of community. We are adding new engagement areas this season to support discovery and add a new energy and buzz to the overall experience for both our retailers and designers. It’s about enjoying time at the shows and elevating the show experience. Our activations aid in creating conversation and generating great content for the designer’s social-media channels, which in turn creates an instant awareness from the buyers while in Las Vegas for market week. Some of these new engagement areas include a Style & Shoot section where designers will have the opportunity to participate in a live photo shoot with a fashion photographer, stylist and models. After each shoot, we post the images to BJI’s social-media accounts and share them with our designers as well. Posting the Style & Shoot images during the shows helps to garner further exposure from our collective audiences.

It is so important for designers to “tell their story” to the retailers, get their message out and create a buzz around their collection before a market week. We are passionate about helping our designers fuel this buzz by staying closely connected to the retail community through a myriad of channels. We can’t stress enough how beneficial it is for exhibitors to participate in all the marketing opportunities MRket, AccessoriesTheShow and Stitch have to offer. Our diverse mix of communication is designed to serve the needs of every one of our retailers. This includes pre-show, on-site and post-show marketing materials, our My Market mobile app, extensive personal outreach programs and our show websites, which present a complete story by providing look books, show guides, exhibitor profiles, article and brand buzz sections as well as almost daily email blasts. Also, by engaging in our show conversation on social media, exhibitors are aligning themselves with all things show-related. This creates a real-time awareness and makes it possible to be seen even when busy working with customers at the show.

 

photo

Brittany Carr, Director of Events and Trade Shows, California Market Center

www.californiamarketcenter.com

Pre-show outreach is imperative for a successful show, and I strongly urge our exhibitor base to be proactive in reaching out to potential buyers weeks prior to market. Whether it is doing store visits, sending teaser pictures of their new lines or cross promotions via social media, building a relationship prior to coming to market is key. If these relationships are cultivated correctly, buyers will make the extra effort to come to see a rep based on their relationship.

That being said, there are certainly specific things an exhibitor can do to appeal to walk-in traffic once a show begins: 1) Present your brand in an attractive and organized space with displays that showcase your product well; 2) Smile and acknowledge buyers passing by without seeming overly aggressive. Make them feel comfortable enough to walk inside and browse your goods at their leisure; 3) Good candy, complimentary water bottles and other treats are nice ice breakers. Exhibitor takeaways such as branded tote bags and branded water bottles are traveling advertisements and are noticed by other buyers walking the market; 4) Take advantage of advertising, display and sponsorship opportunities offered by show producers to help direct attention to specific exhibitors during showtime. Basically, exhibitors need to be proactive participants of a show, maximizing every opportunity that helps their product stand out within a show environment. Once they’ve done what they can to capture a buyer’s attention with presentation and self-promotion, it’s ultimately the product that will hook the buyer in.

 

photo

Caron Stover, Vice President of Apparel Tradeshow Sales, Atlanta Apparel

www.americasmart.com

Engage with our Atlanta Apparel social-media community. Using and following our hashtags—#AtlantaApparel and#ATLApparelFav—is an excellent tool for researching and reaching buyers who are in the building. We have an outpouring of positive feedback from exhibitors who have taken the time to make connections online.

Take advantage of the Digital Showroomsatwww.americasmart.com. Buyers can locate product info, view look-book photos, and connect with the brand’s website and social-media communities on these complimentary online listings.

Demand the buyers’ attention with on-site advertising and sponsorships. From a sponsored Daily Strut fashion show on our atrium runway to a spread in our Buyer’s Guide to a Video Wall loop, advertising is a great way to break through the noise and market distraction. A great ad campaign is a key component in building brand recognition.

Be approachable, free of distractions and attentive to your customers’ needs! Once they enter a booth or showroom, it is up to the exhibitor to build and grow a strong relationship with the client. This is definitely the most important way to bring in buyers.

 

photo

Vanessa Chiu, Show Director, AXIS

www.axisshow.com

Axis takes aesthetics and culture into account at every turn. We curate both on-site activations and off-site events, paying close attention to providing a conducive platform to promote retail, media, authentic tastemaker face-to-face time.

Our exhibiting collections exhibit in a gallery-like setting with white walls, natural wood and modern fixtures that mimic an architectural facade that plays up the brand’s story and focuses on the product.

We encourage our brands to work together with us and use us as a resource, define/outline their retailer distribution goals pre-show and further streamline their brand’s story through our digital campaigns to our networks. It’s incredibly important to be consistent with your pre-show outreach and brand messaging, communicating to your network of prospective and current retailers, media, industry peers and influencers.

An authentic way to spread the word is through word-of-mouth through these networks. We highly encourage setting appointments for retailers and media. A few other on-site incentives include offering in-booth targeted gifting, showing only exclusive product.

 

photo

Hillary France, Co-founder, Brand Assembly

www.brandassembly.com

Of course there is no substitute for pre-market prospecting, but there definitely are some simple yet important ways to catch the eye of buyers during the actual show. At Brand Assembly, our setup is a blank canvas with no intricate booth build-outs; this is because we are huge advocates of having the product speak for itself.

With the product as the main feature, it is important to have the booth merchandised smartly by being clean and organized and not to overcrowd or underutilize a brand’s racks or shelves. The brand should have their “show” pieces strategically placed throughout to keep a buyer’s attention while browsing a collection. The product should be wrinkle-free and not falling off the hangers, and the product should be reset after each appointment worked.

Another important suggestion is for the sales rep to be engaged, warm, inviting and prepared. The sales rep should make eye contact with buyers as they pass by or get up to greet buyers that come in. The rep should have a clean work space and look the part. Wearing the clothes of the season is one of the best selling tools! The rep should also have exceptional knowledge of the product and pricing and be prepared with key selling tools such as legible line sheets and look books. It all sounds like common sense but is truly one of the most important aspects to initiate any contact with a potential buyer.

Every season at Brand Assembly there are many new and emerging brands showing their collection for the very first time, so we are especially sensitive to providing them guidance on how to stand out and attract buyers that are not necessarily there to seek them out. Our simple advice for them is “focus on the basics.”

 

photo

Henri Myers, Co-founder, Creative Director, Coeur Tradeshow

www.Coeurshow.com

At Coeur, we know that having the right brands featured in a well-curated manner helps attract the best buyers overall each season. But when it comes to the exhibitors, they can do several things to create excitement and bring more buyers to the show. Brands can prepare ahead of time by having a strong campaign image that resonates with their brand but also adds spark to what they plan to feature at the show. This can be in the form of daily images sent or posted through their social-media outlets or promo videos of the new collection and its inspiration. Brands can also showcase special behind-the-scenes footage that also works for press, bloggers and those key buyers or real potential accounts they are looking to attract. Participating brands can do a string of teasers to send all stores presenting information on the show as well. By doing this, brands can make moves to connect with stores that are a match and even gain appointments this way as noted last season with a few top stores seeing great images during the Coeur show in Los Angeles on Instagram or Twitter that caught buyers’ attention, which got them to pop by to see and write the line.

We also encourage all brands to properly research the stores they feel could be potentials. This is an integral part for each brand to spearhead and be responsible for. Contacting these stores before the show to set up appointments is also a way to ensure a stronger showcase at Coeur. There’s always walk-by traffic, of course, but we know that brands cannot solely count on this to obtain orders. It’s about each brand being proactive and not reactive.

Another aspect at Coeur is that due to the overall vibe and setting of Coeur and what we provide, brands can and often do create strong collaborations with other key brands for future projects. Depending on the collaboration, this too manifests great opportunities and buzz that buyers also notice and get excited about.

 

photo

Hisham Muhareb, Co-founder, SoCal Materials Show

www.thematerialshows.com

Create a buzz by utilizing social media before, during and after the show. Let your social-media audience know where you’ll be. You can also create a buzz during the event by offering promotional items. T-shirts, water bottles, snacks with the company logo always attract potential customers to your booth.

 

photo

Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel, Chief Executive Officer, CurvExpo & Interfilière

www.curvexpo.com

www.interfilière.com

One of a kind experience: Why would a buyer visit your booth and not another one? Why would a customer buy online or decide to visit your store instead of another one? Because of the unique experience you create. A great look and feel is nothing without offering a great experience. A combination of this carries the most weight when attracting buyers on the show site. The brand’s presentation makes the space inviting and an easy-to-share quality with buyers. Providing buyers with supporting digital and printed material of their brand(s) is also a great way to ease business on site and encourage word of mouth. Furthermore, brands need to be creative and bold when looking to attract buyers. This can be done through various incentives such as get-togethers, serving food, beverages, handing out flyers, showing videos, giving goodie bags, holding events within your booth and so on.

Last, through encouraging your team to work together and maintain enthusiasm throughout the show, buyers are more likely to want to come into your booth. An exciting and motivating attitude will enhance a brand’s productivity and experience.

Social media: Another way to encourage attracting buyers and creating a great experience on the show site is through making the most of the social-media platforms available. Brands should constantly tweet, post on Instagram, Facebook, etc., throughout the duration of the show. By using official hashtags and letting people know where a brand is and what it is doing is a very easy way to gain extra, free exposure and encourage buyers to visit the booth.

Spend time in and out of your booth: It is very easy for a brand to get sucked into manning their booth all day during a trade show. However, team members should try to share duties in order to network during conferences, social events and walk the show floor. By doing this, it is a great way to help gain industry knowledge, tips and new tools. It is also an ideal place to meet new people, which helps give a good return on investment outside of the sales aspect of the trade show.

 

Meryl Mandelbaum, Managing Director, Designers and Agents

www.designersandagents.com

Designers and Agents’ recommendation to its exhibitors is to keep it simple. Obviously, there is no substitution for great product. A well-merchandised and focused presentation is key to attract buyers’ attention. Giveaways, snacks, greeters, etc., can be “gimmicky” and are more of a distraction than anything else. We realize that this may not be the consensus, but in regard to the aesthetic and culture of our show, this is what works.

 

photo

Eva Walsh, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Dallas Market Center

www.dallasmarketcenter.com

At Dallas Market Center, providing resources to guarantee exhibitor success while at market is a top priority and one of the best ways we can serve our new and loyal customers. We’re thrilled for what’s in store for our marketplace in the second half of the year, on all fronts. With consumer confidence in Texas 26 points higher than the national average, we’re seeing growth, increases in attendance from key buyers and new manufacturers at each market across all industries.

One of the ways we encourage exhibitors to generate excitement and draw buyers to their showrooms is through the power of social media. With our following of nearly 50,000 buyers, manufacturers, reps, bloggers and industry friends—more than any other apparel marketplace in the country—we encourage exhibitors to connect with our pages during market. We see that exhibitors who utilize our#dallasmarket hashtag, post visually appealing and trendsetting product photos, purchase information or location garner more attention from buyers. The on-staff social-media team hosts seminars on the fundamentals of customer engagement through social media, which can directly translate into sales. Our staff is always available on and off market to aid our exhibitors in social-media success.

Additionally, we provide several opportunities for our exhibitors to have product featured in areas throughout market such as during our runway trend fashion shows, sponsoring a buyer’s lounge and our inspirational displays located throughout the building. Our incredible visual team professionally designs these displays from exhibitor product and highlights specific niche categories of merchandise and trends, and our runway shows draw hundreds of buyers looking for the latest trends of the upcoming season. With these opportunities, buyers are able to see the products come to life on a model or on a mannequin, which helps them envision how their customer will see the product. These elements are also positioned in central buyer locations and allow exhibitors to get in front of their audience and present their product. When showrooms participate, buyers notice it.

We also encourage and promote exhibitors who host events during market as well as special guest appearances such as designers, authors, celebrities and more. Inviting buyers to come be inspired by a guest speaker or celebrity always excites the crowd. Whenever exhibitors decide to host an event, we feature these events with a promotional listing in our Showtimer guide, which is distributed across campus. Above all, an exhibitor’s product is always at the forefront of generating buyer interest. Our marketplace is full of exhibitors with unique and one-of-a-kind product, and we invite our industry friends to experience the inspiration, growth and commerce in Dallas.

 

photo

David Dea, Founder, Factory Direct

www.ftydirect.net

To maximize exposure while at a trade show, Factory Direct recommends:

•Providing sought-after giveaways.

•A small takeaway that describes the DNA of your company at a glance—perhaps with a special offer for coming to the show or consultation.

•Aesthetically pleasing graphics.

•Working your social media—talking about giveaways and special offers for visiting.

•Social media—actively pre-show, during the show and post show.

Most importantly, for all parties in the booth to bring the positive energy, because it’s contagious.

 

photo

Suzanne De Groot, Executive Director, Fashion Market Northern California

www.fashionmarketnorcal.com

Fashion Market Northern California—FMNC—has a great reputation for being a very friendly show to attend and shop. It starts at the front desk. From the moment buyers register and get their badge to walking down the aisle in our open-booth environment, attendees tell us FMNC is a relaxing and fun place to do their buying.

Smiling and a positive attitude always is a great attraction!

This translates to our exhibitors as well. Exhibitors with a friendly attitude that look and wear their brands and/or designers make a statement to a buyer walking by. Buyers appreciate how the designs, whether apparel or accessories, look on the body.

The most successful exhibitors create an environment that is visually attractive. They have the experience and past successes to know that if they offer displays with new designs and collections right up front, it will attract new buyers.

Limited displays curated by color and style create a visual landscape for the buyer to imagine how the merchandise will translate in their shops.

Most of the time, less is more. … The exhibitors that offer a unique limited taste of a designer up front know that it will attract the interest of the buyer to want to know more of a designer’s story.

Lifestyle posters, company logos, and signage professionally printed and mounted present a polished statement. Additional lighting will highlight displays on the wall. Mirrors need to be in reach of a buyer trying on apparel and/or accessories.

Offering a comfortable place to sit, water and snacks will encourage a buyer to stay in the booth, ask more questions and write orders.

Successful exhibitors have extra staff that are knowledgeable to help in the booth. You do not want to miss a buyer that is ready to buy.

We as a show also strive to create buyer satisfaction by offering free parking, lunch coupons, afternoon snacks and a late night with wine and beer for extended shopping, and we recently have added Starbucks coffee and food trucks in addition to the salads and other items available from the San Mateo Event Center catering service.

We provide special rates at the Marriott, which includes parking and a shuttle to and from the hotel each day of the show. We also offer a free room at the Marriott to any new buyer attending the show.

 

photo

Andrew Olah, Founder, Kingpins

www.kingpinsshow.com

We recommend that our exhibitors edit their offerings down to their best/newest items—and show their fabrics in full garments with the best possible wash. A lot of times, the instinct for exhibitors is to pack as much of their collections into their booths as possible, but often the result is a cluttered, unfocused booth that looks more like a yard sale than a beautiful collection. It is hard for even the most gorgeous of fabrics to stand out in a packed rack. We all eat with our eyes first, and a well-edited booth allows designers to more clearly see a mill’s point of view.

Giveaways are also a good way to get attention—but only if they tell a mill’s story and are, for lack of a better word, cool. Everyone seems to be more conscious of waste and what gets sent to landfills. So, pens and traditional giveaways such as calculators or lanyards no longer cut it. Giveaways have to be something that recipients will actually use and keep. Some of our exhibitors give away items like teddy bears made from knit denim, beautiful pouches made from selvage denim, indigo-dyed woven scarves, denim bow ties and pens carved from wood—all things that tell their brand story and are novel and memorable and functional.

 

photo

John Ruffo, Founder, Lazr Trade Show

www.lazrtradeshow.com

Lazr Tradeshow is preparing for another successful event slated for October during LA Market week. Our retail-relations team is hard at work informing both our exhibitors and retailers on key reasons to attend our event.

Lazr’s retail-relations team works hand in hand with exhibitors to pinpoint targeted retailers. Lazr management also visits retail stores and buyers face to face to add a personal touch. Over the last several show cycle, our success is based on building personal relationships and networking. This in turn creates trust and builds rapport.

Our grassroots networking approach along with visiting retailers and buyers, one by one, person by person, one door at a time, assures a positive return on exhibitors’ investment experience.

 

photo

Sam Ben-Avraham, Founder, Liberty Fairs

www.libertyfairs.com

There’s definitely no substitute for pre-planning. That’s the best thing you can do for your business at a trade show. Outside of that, the key thing to remember is that you have about 15 seconds to tell your brand’s story when a buyer is walking through the aisle. That story should be told through a combination of branding, personality and, of course, merchandising—less is definitely more. On the personality side, it’s important to be approachable and engaging rather than pushy. Always look alert and attentive when sitting in your booth, not preoccupied. Eye contact and a smile are the best conversation starters.

photo

Leslie Gallin, President, Footwear, UBM Advanstar
(including FN Platform, MAGIC, WSA, Sole Commerce and Project Sole NYC )

www.magiconline.com

Drawing attendees to your booth starts well before MAGIC begins. I see it as a process with five critical components:

Pre-sell. Don’t wait until you are behind the booth to start selling. Start communicating with your target buyers before the show starts. Nowadays, we all receive way too many emails. Buyers respond to visuals, so invest in handwritten notes with look books and invite buyers to visit you at the show. Ensure they’re aware of your offerings and set appointments early. Follow up with phone calls when possible.

Curate. As far as booth presentation goes, less is more. Buyers are drawn to product they can see. Know your buyers and their stores. Highlight which products are your best-sellers and a selection of others that fit into their store specifically. If this is your first time meeting, get to know their needs a bit more and schedule a follow-up conversation. Ask questions and show a genuine interest in their customer demographics. This mindfulness will differentiate you from the masses.

Booth Environment. Create an environment within your booth that not only exudes the heart of your brand but makes you and your team excited to be there. Energy is contagious, and if your sales reps are excited, your buyers will naturally follow suit. Also, add props inside your booth, for example, old suitcases with shoes placed on top. This shows the retailers a clever and inexpensive idea for displaying the product. Retailers need the visual stimulation of how you see your brand sitting on the store shelves. Remember, they too have limited space to bring the shoes to life. Less is more when setting up your booth shelves.

Network. At the end of the day, “People want to do business with who they like.” Don’t leave relationship building behind the booth. Engage with your key buyers and industry colleagues at exclusive dinners and after-hour events. MAGIC offers loads of opportunities for networking.

Social Media. Social media is a way to get your brand in front of the world. Consumers and retailers are using social media to glean an understanding of what trends are important. Leverage the power of social media to let your followers know about your presence and compel them to visit your booth through giveaways, contests, etc. Use tools such as Foursquare to create promotional incentives and generate buzz before, during and post show.

photo

Judy Stein, Executive Director, Swimwear Association of Florida/Miami SwimShow

www.swimshow.com

Nothing really can take the place of pre-show planning, but some other ways to attract buyers include:

Promotions: Friendly and flirty bikini-clad girls are a staple at our show. You see them everywhere, and do they work to get buyers into a booth? You bet they do! As do in-booth fashion shows, celebrity appearances, complimentary snacks and swag bags. Great show promotions not only capture a prospective buyer’s attention, they also garner their contact information to nurture that relationship. I would point out though that while it’s important to have fun and be creative, you should avoid too many promotions and focus on just one or two great ideas. You want to promote as a way to get the right people in the booth, but you don’t want to fill your booth with people who are there just to take advantage of your promos who are not interested in your products.

Networking: Our show offers multiple opportunities to network throughout the four days including our annual Cocktail Party and Fashion Presentation, Spring/Summer 2017 Colors & Trend Seminar, Swim Lounge, Breakfast Bar and High Tea. I suggest taking advantage of these moments to create new and strengthen existing relationships. Talk to everyone, everywhere—simply saying hello could generate a great new contact.

Environment: I suggest a clean, warm, eye-catching and inviting environment. Don’t overpack the space with too much furniture and displays. You want to make sure that there is enough space for you, your team and your buyers. Be the oasis in the maelstrom where they can seek refuge. Another key point to remember is that it should be accessible. The interior set up of the booth is just as important, if not more so, than the exterior. The working area should be designed to comfortably work a line with buyers.

Staff: It’s important to remember that the employees in your booth are your ambassadors. It is important to staff your booth with a team of outgoing and knowledgeable people who will be able to disseminate information about your products while simultaneously engaging people who stop by to find out if they are potential buyers.

 

photo

Debora Pokallus, Chief Executive Officer

Bel Esprit Showroom—The International Showroom for Ethical Fashion

Showroom International—The International Showroom for Independent Fashion

www.moda360intl.com

Bel Esprit and Showroom International work with independent designers, and we know firsthand the difficulties these designers have in attracting the attention of buyers. We created our event, Moda 360, to help. Marketing a fashion line today requires more than a booth at a trade show or a runway during a fashion week; designers need great visuals and branding out in the press and on social media to attract attention, not just of buyers but also the end consumer. Moda 360 challenges designers to creatively present their collections and provides them with necessary marketing materials (photos, videos, press) to get buyers’ attention.

The focus at trade shows is writing orders, so most booths are arranged to provide all the SKUs and options. But retailers also want to know how to sell a collection to their customers, so designers who provide merchandising and presentation ideas to buyers will make it easier for retailers to visualize how the collection will work in their store. Also, the more designers define their brand and have that brand representation out in the market, the more easily retailers will understand the concept, and the right retailers will be attracted to the collection.

The retail market is difficult, with bricks-and-mortar stores competing with e-commerce, and retailers want to be sure that what they see and buy at trade shows will sell through. Designers who engage their end customers and creatively express their brand for press/media and in social media will attract the right stores for their collections, and retailers will have more confidence in buying a brand when they see the consumer engagement, they will know the target market of the collection. Because most independent designers do not have adequate resources to produce these marketing materials, we developed our event to give a different perspective on collections, focusing on the creative presentation of the brand and providing a portfolio of promotional materials for designers to use before and during trade shows so that their brand concept is known and understood, and buyers who are interested in the designer’s concept will seek them out.

 

photo

Ashleigh Kaspszak, Director, Marketing and Public Relations, The New Mart

www.newmart.net

Be original in your approach. It’s all about the personal connection. At The New Mart, people come first.

Word-of-mouth marketing during the show is extremely powerful. Friendly interactions with new people can go a long way, so talk to everyone, say hello, get to know the person in the elevator or on the way back from grabbing your morning coffee.

You will stand out by going the extra mile— i.e., host a party, attend events or seminars that are happening during a show—talk to your neighbors, the buyer entourages, whoever. Trade-show events are professional, but they are also social. Put your best foot forward in every way.

Create an enjoyable experience for your returning buyers while utilizing time as best you know how. This way you can encounter the many opportunities available to you. And don’t forget, keep lines of communication open during the show at all times—be available by phone, text, email, fax and social media!

 

photo

Stephen Krogulski, Chief Executive Officer, Offprice Show

www.offpriceshow.com

It’s all about the product and its availability and both our exhibitors and retailers know this. Due to the nature of Offprice being a fast-inventory turn, quick decision and a high-energy environment, where one deal can make your quarter numbers or maybe your year, planning is the key.

We provide various tools to assist in the pre-show preparations for both our exhibitors and retailers to ensure they have a meaningful and hopefully a profitable experience with the Offprice Show.

Gilles Lasbordes, General Manager, Première Vision

www.premierevision.com

First, besides the fact they can inform their customers of their presence at the show, we have different ways for exhibitors to increase their visibility.

First, all exhibitors are invited by the Première Vision Fashion team to send their best creative and innovative products for the different fashion forums. Being on these forums is a good way to be noticed by visitors.

They can use the digital tools PV developed and is still developing:

•Filling in the questionnaire to give more information [than] they have in the e-catalog.

•Sending all information about their company, their products, their innovations, their activities and news. This information (they all get an email from the communication department as a reminder every season) would be used in different media: the website, our social networks, our daily paper distributed at the show, our new smartphone application. … The more specificities they give, the more chance they have to be included in those media and to be seen by most of the visitors.

•They can also invest in media advertising to draw attention to their collections before the show.

•They can also organize events linked to the company directly at the show—conferences, presentations, etc. … It’s a good way to get communication before and during the show.

 

photo

Roy Turner, Senior Vice President, Emerald Expositions Sports Group

www.emeraldexpositions.com

www.surfexpo.com

On site at the show anything that offers visibility is key, including participation in product showcases, fashion shows, floor stickers and celebrity/athlete autograph signings. Timely A/V, thematic props and overall merchandising can’t be dismissed either. Stay focused and, most of all, engaged with the attendee. If you sit in the back corner, nose deep in your iPad, don’t be surprised when you don’t have a good show or attract orders.

Beyond the physical, don’t forget digital opportunities. Last year we introduced opt-in based “networking” between buyers and exhibitors via our mobile app. The response has been great, and it’s available at no cost. Also, one tool that’s often overlooked at the show is lead-retrieval systems. Data capture is key to sales success and improvements in lead retrieval systems now enable instant access to data and allow staff to capture and respond to leads in more efficient ways.

For exhibitors, a successful trade-show experience really starts with a booth and great product. The entire show floor is competing for buyers’ attention, and exhibitors need to build awareness of their brand before, during and after the show for the greatest success. Surf Expo is known for being a “business-first” show, where buyers come to write orders. Buyers have limited time, and most are booked with appointments from open to close each day, then they spend nights writing orders and meeting/networking with exhibitors. Some allocate a morning or afternoon to walk the show floor to see what’s new. We develop our sponsorship and advertising opportunities with this in mind. From pre-show, product-driven emails and direct mail to product inclusion in our fashion shows and our many showcases (new product, new exhibitor and footwear), there are ample opportunities to help exhibitors stand out.

 

photo

Jeff Yunis, President, Specialty Trade Shows

WWIN (WomensWear In Nevada)

www.wwinshow.com

First and foremost, we encourage exhibitors to let buyers know that they will be at the show and where their booth is located. At the show itself, we have numerous ways of attracting buyers to booths. We offer large photos, signage and banners at near our cost. We offer well-placed mannequins that we professionally dress with appropriate signage and even have a special section for “made in the USA.” We offer showcases for the accessories people, and perhaps the best new way to get buyers to a specific booth is via our show app. By using it, buyers can search by category, booth location, exhibitor name and more. And we have staff throughout the show to help buyers find specific lines or categories.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on May 14, 2015

Apparel News: California Manufacturers Look for Ways to Beat Drought

This is about time. Unfortunately, but as usual, it has taken a crisis to jolt the politicians, Sustainability - paul brindley consultsthe producers and the public into action.

I have long been bemused by the “Sustainability” movement in the textile and fashion world.

The EPA website describes “Sustainability” as:

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment. 

I started my fashion industry career with the environmental and animal conservation company, Wildlife Works. Wildlife Works produced and sold women’s and men’s organic fabric clothing to fund conservation and social projects in Africa. We held the EPA view of Sustainability. We used only certified organic fabrics. We used the lowest impact production processes available. We did our best to reduce our environmental footprint wherever possible.

It is my experience that the fashion and textile industries around the world have been working on a much narrower and self-serving definition of Sustainability. Sustainability has been focused on the contingencies of assuring the future availability and security of the supply of raw materials and manufactured goods against the ever increasing demands of competing global markets.

The focus has been on such contingencies as, what do we do if China decides to drastically cut it’s cotton exports to satisfy domestic demand? Not, what are the environmental impacts of cotton production? Or, should we use more truly sustainable materials such as hemp or bamboo?

Textile and fashion are bottom line industries. Margins are everything, particularly if you are trying to manufacture domestically. Corners are cut all the time. Those corners have historically been the steps or options that are ethical and sustainable rather than the legal and essential. Water conservation is now one of those options that has been moved from the ethical column to the legal. I hope there are more to come.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

 

MANUFACTURING

California Manufacturers Look for Ways to Beat Drought

California’s State Water Resources Control Board took emergency measures to act on California’s harsh drought last month, ranging from restaurants not serving water unless requested to prohibitions against using potable water to wash down driveways and sidewalks.

But the state’s restrictions have yet to affect California’s apparel makers, even though dye houses and commercial laundries rely on heavy water usage to make apparel items such as jeans to T-shirts and special-occasion dresses.

So far, state agencies have not made specific directions to the state’s fashion producers to change their production methods. Nor has the drought been a major topic of conversation among factory managers, according to interviews with fashion executives. Still, several California fashion businesses are already experimenting with ways to cut back the amount of water used.

Pacific Blue Dye House, headquartered in Los Angeles, has experimented for years with environmentally sustainable ways to power its factory and make clothes. In December 2009, the company unveiled a solar-energy program that supplies more than 80 percent of the energy needs of its 30,000-square-foot facility.

Recently, Dotan Shoham, the co-owner of Pacific Blue Dye House and its in-house contemporary knit brand, Gypsy 05, has been seeking ways to curb the facility’s water use. He claims to have cut down on his water use by more than 25 percent this year.

Water-saving steps include cutting shifts in the factory. Pacific Blue used to run a night shift but now is only open 10 hours each day. Washing cycles have been cut down. Garments are hang-dried rather than machine-dried to cut back on wash cycles. The staff has become vigilant about fixing leaks in pipes in the facility. Shoham has directed his staff to sweep factory floors rather than wash them down.

“I wish one day we will find a waterless dye process,” Shoham said. “We need to cut everywhere from all angles. … The sooner we wake up, the better. We are heading into tough times.”

Other manufacturers have been experimenting with other ways to save water.

Kevin Kelly, chief executive officer and co-owner of the US Blanks basics manufacturer in downtown Los Angeles, said his company works with businesses that make it a policy to conserve water. “We try to use dye houses and facilities that have recycled-water capabilities or are moving strongly in that direction,” he said. The company also uses recycled yarns that do not use as much water to produce garments. A US Blanks priority will be using raw materials that do not require as much water to produce.

Volcom, the high-profile fashion and action-sportswear brand, remodeled its Costa Mesa, Calif., headquarters in 2013. With the remodel, it installed low-flow toilets and sensor faucets that only draw water when a hand is placed under the faucet, said Derek Sabori, the brand’s vice president of sustainability. The company is also working to reduce water usage in its supply chain, all of which is located overseas.

Eco Prk, a Paramount, Calif.–based laundry, offers a chemical-free process that uses oxygen to wash indigo or dye, said Kevin Youn, chief executive officer of the company. He estimated that traditional laundries use 25 to 45 gallons of water to make a garment. He said his laundry can cut water use by 95 percent.

While news of the drought dominates current headlines, people in California’s fashion industry have been conscious of the state’s water issues for decades and have been active in discussion with local governments on conserving water, said Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, a trade association for California’s garment industry.

“This is not a new issue,” Metchek said. “In the past we have investigated the options.”

Options for factories have included using reclaimed water. In the late 1990s, Metchek said, she and colleagues had expressed interest in factories using more with reclaimed water, or water that has been cleaned up and recycled after previous use, but there was not enough political will to make it a reality then.

Factories could be using reclaimed water more in the future, said Newsha K. Ajami, who is the director of urban water policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program.

“Water that comes in direct contact with human beings has to be of the highest quality,” she said. “Solutions will be different from one region to another and from one sector to the next.” She forecasts that municipalities and water districts, where most of the policy action will take place on the local level, will start having conversations with their business customers and industrial stakeholders on different options for conserving water.

New directions have been taken by the West Basin Municipal Water District, which serves Southwest Los Angeles County. It is a water district that has been supplying recycled water to businesses and institutions such as Los Angeles International Airport, she said.

“This is a challenge and an opportunity,” Ajami said of the drought and its effect on California. “We should rethink the way we manage our water resources and move toward more sustainable solutions.”

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has noted that it will help businesses review their facilities to confirm if they can use recycled water, said Kim Hughes, a spokesperson for the LA DWP. Recycled water is delivered through separate piping systems.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on May 11, 2015

Designers ‘overcharging for basic stuff’, says fashion mentor Nicholas Huxley

Here are some wise words from one of the best in the business, Nicholas Huxley.

Nicholas is the Head of the Fashion Design Studio at Sydney Institute TAFE. He has taught and mentored the best and brightest of the Australian fashion industry for decades.

He has been extremely generous with his time and advice and friendship over the past five years since we first met in the bar at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (as it was then).

I call Nicholas “The Guru”. He chuckles every time but I mean it. It is a well deserved sobriquet for such a master and a teacher. His presence in and influence on the Australian fashion industry is legendary.

When he speaks, I listen. I’m glad these words of wisdom got some play.

Thanks Nic.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

 

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

APRIL 25, 2015

Designers ‘overcharging for basic stuff’, says fashion mentor Nicholas Huxley

The Onticha runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Picture: Jonathan Ng
The Onticha runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
Picture: Jonathan Ng

NICHOLAS Huxley has issued advice to the country’s next wave of fashion designers, telling them if they want to thrive in the new retail market they have to reduce prices.

Huxley, who heads up TAFE’s Fashion Design Studio and has mentored the country’s most successful designers, including Akira Isogawa and Dion Lee, said one of the key factors in building a profitable Australian label was about being realistic with price margins.

“If you’re going to do a box dress with two patch pockets and charge $350, being in the industry I know how much that costs and that scares me,” he said.

“This is what I feel is a problem in the fashion industry. They’re overcharging for basic stuff.

“That’s why with my students I tell them to think about details; the lovely things that will make people say ‘I know why I’m going to buy that and why I’d pay the money for it’.”

Onticha runway show part at Fashion Week Australia. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Onticha runway show part at Fashion Week Australia.
Picture: Jonathan Ng
Jai Saunders' runway show part at Fashion Week. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Jai Saunders’ runway show part at Fashion Week.
Picture: Jonathan Ng

Last month Huxley debuted the college’s latest graduate collections at The Innovators collection show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. The demise of established brands such as Lisa Ho, Kirrily Johnston and Bettina Liano in recent years has proved a sobering reminder to young design students that even the most celebrated fashion minds are not immune to the difficulties of retail in Australia.

But establishing more mentorships between commercial clothing brands and young designers, such as the partnership between clothing label Cue and Dion Lee, was the key to developing new talent.

“It’s about the dollar and getting orders, but if you get someone to say ‘I believe in you’, you’ve got yourself a market,’’ Huxley said.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on April 15, 2015

Apparel News – The U.S. Dollar Is on Fire: The Pros and Cons for U.S. Apparel Manufacturers.

FINANCE

The U.S. Dollar Is on Fire: The Pros and Cons for U.S. Apparel Manufacturers.

The U.S. dollar is sailing at a 12-year high. A strong greenback means that if you travel overseas, hotels and restaurant dinners are cheaper. It also means raw materials produced overseas, such as fabric, zippers and buttons, have suddenly gone on sale.

But if you were one of those U.S. apparel manufacturers who widened your market by selling overseas, you might be facing some financial headwinds this year.

For example, Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco noted recently that its fourth-quarter revenues would have grown by 10 percent, but with various currency declines, it rose only 7 percent.

Nike, the athletic apparel and shoe company in Beaverton, Ore., has grown to be a global company with more than 50 percent of its sales coming from overseas. Its executives recently said there might be some financial pushback this year with a strong dollar creating a drag on revenues.

All this can create a challenging world. California Apparel News recently spoke with some finance-industry executives to find out the effects of the strong dollar on local apparel companies.

How are manufacturers coping with the rise in the U.S. dollar regarding exports, and what steps are they taking to minimize its effect on their revenues?

photo

Eric Fisch, HSBC Bank USA

Eric Fisch, Senior Vice President and Regional Commercial Executive, Los Angeles, HSBC Bank USA

As part of an international bank that is committed to helping U.S. businesses expand globally, I regularly talk with manufacturers about the impact of foreign currency fluctuations on their revenue. However, the dollar’s recent strengthening has certainly made some of the conversations around the best methods for mitigating currency risks more urgent.

As a first step to mitigating currency risks, we ask clients to identify the areas of most concern. These can vary from basic concerns of mitigating risks that affect sales margins and cost of goods to mitigating risks associated with fluctuations reported in public-company quarterly statements.

One way U.S. manufacturers are mitigating currency risk from a stronger dollar is using longer-duration currency hedges that allow them to offer a fixed price for goods throughout an upcoming season. We have seen more interest in these lately, especially for companies selling into Europe.

Another way we are seeing some U.S. manufacturers mitigate risk is to make payments in the local currency. Where U.S. companies have historically paid their suppliers in U.S. dollars, we are seeing a shift in interest by U.S. companies to paying in the local currency and hedging the risk themselves.

In some cases this has allowed for tangible reductions in cost of goods as the suppliers overseas were including a buffer in their pricing to allow for any currency fluctuations.

As some manufacturers have learned, insisting on U.S. dollar pricing does not insulate your business from currency exposure. For example, the U.S. dollar has appreciated on average by more than 20 percent over the last year. So, if a U.S. company continues to pay its overseas suppliers in U.S. dollars, it could be paying its suppliers more than 20 percent of what it paid a year ago when translated into the supplier’s local currency.

Ultimately, what’s important for business owners and chief financial officers to remember is that they have built their success on innovative products and services, not on predicting the future movements in the dollar.

A bank with strong foreign exchange experience can have a role in helping mitigate, or at least control, the risks of those movements so the company can concentrate on its underlying business.

photo

Ron Friedman, Partner, Marcum LLP

Ron Friedman, Partner, Marcum LLP

Our export clients at Marcum are primarily branded manufacturers, who tend to be less hard hit by fluctuations in currency rates than commodity product manufacturers.

Their sales are driven as much by the brand as by the product, and the product is a high-quality, high-demand item. The market for these products tends to remain stable longer.

The rise in the dollar will certainly increase the cost of products manufactured in the United States for foreign consumers, but our clients’ customers are not as price sensitive, and they have more disposable income.

On the other hand, U.S. manufacturers that import product from overseas will see their costs reduced as the dollar gets stronger.

photo

Rob Greenspan, President and Chief Executive, Greenspan Consult Inc.

Rob Greenspan, President and Chief Executive, Greenspan Consult Inc.

In its simplest form, when the U.S. dollar rises, it becomes stronger against foreign currencies. That means the amount of foreign monies needed to pay off the dollars becomes larger, meaning more expensive.

Because of this the U.S. exporter might be pressured by the foreign buyer to reduce prices to offset some or all of the increase so they can maintain their gross profit margins. The result could be fewer “purchases” from the foreign buyers, which would have a negative effect on the U.S. exporter’s revenues.

Additionally, if the U.S. exporter is having to negotiate its price due to the strength of the U.S. dollar, the company’s revenue could drop or its gross profit margins could fall due to the increasing strength of the U.S. dollar.

U.S. exporters need to be smart about when and if ever to lower prices to compensate for the strength of the U.S. dollar. Lower prices don’t necessarily mean greater revenues. Normal margins need to be managed and maintained within a relevant range. At the end of the day, the goal is to run a profitable U.S. business. If it means doing a bit less selling overseas, look for ways to increase the domestic market for your products.

At this point in time, I have not seen any significant drop in export revenues to foreign distributors or retailers. While the markets still seem to be strong for U.S. brands overseas, the amount of sales has not been large enough to notice any particular trends.

photo

Sunnie Kim, President and Chief Executive, Hana Financial

Sunnie Kim, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hana Financial

As the U.S. dollar continues to strengthen and the economy improves overall, Americans gain more buying power for goods and services overseas.

However, as the growth in Europe and Japan remain stagnant, demand abroad for U.S. goods is lessened and a significant trade gap is created. Additionally, many experts predict that the value of the dollar will increase by 10 percent this year alone.

Therefore, the impact to manufacturers and others will lead to softer sales and profits and may even have a negative impact on future employment. In many cases, manufacturers will be unable to raise their prices in concert with the dollar’s rise against other currencies. Foreign competitors may now have an advantage in production costs as they are not under the same pricing pressures.

In order to offset some of these challenges, many manufacturers have sourced their production closer to some of their major foreign markets in an attempt to minimize currency-fluctuation issues.

However, we should keep the aforementioned in perspective. Those smaller and middle-sized companies that are mostly serviced by our industries generally have less exposure to foreign sales and therefore face less risk than some of the larger multi-national businesses.

photo

Robert Meyers, Managing Director for the West Coast, Bibby Financial Services

Robert Meyers, Interim Managing Director, Bibby Financial Services

Gross margins have been steadily declining for the past nine months for U.S.-based export manufacturers, mirroring the ever-increasing value of the U.S. dollar in relation to most currencies.

Export manufacturing companies with longer-term or fixed-price raw-material contracts are likely near default in their existing financing relationships or larger companies may be suffering challenging quarterly results. AppleChief Executive Tim Cook even stated that overseas revenue is behind budget.

Other factors to consider:

Declining margins reveal negative short-term implications while yielding longer term opportunities for businesses with a strategic focus on efficiency, process, product diversification and supply relationships.

Middle-market companies can explore overseas acquisition opportunities where they could control the labor or supply costs to make them more competitive.

Some Bibby Financial Services clients are exploring divestitures of their foreign subsidiaries with an eye on strategic or private-equity buyouts if the longer-term trade risk isn’t acceptable or profitable enough.

Several companies are delaying capital-expenditure programs and investments or reallocating budgets toward more domestic interests.

photo

Don Nunnari, Executive Vice President/Regional Manager, Merchant Factors Corp.

Don Nunnari, Executive Vice President/Regional Manager, Merchant Factors Corp.

Historically, export sales of our factored clients have been a very small percentage of the manufacturers’ overall sales.

Frankly, we have not heard from any clients complaining that the surge in the U.S. dollar has negatively affected their sales or profits. They seem to be selling at the same pace as before.

However, large apparel companies selling in multiple countries and sourcing goods in different countries have been affected. On a recent earnings call, Ralph Lauren Corp. reported that unfavorable foreign currency fluctuations could cost the company 200 basis points (or 2 percent) in gross margins in 2015.

At current currency levels, they project 2016 sales and profits would be impacted. In a Wall Street Journalarticle on March 31, Prada and Chanel reported that a weakened euro against the dollar in the past months has caused them to evaluate cutting prices in Asia to reduce the differential with European prices.

photo

Jeffrey Sesko, Vice President, Rosenthal & Rosenthal

Jeffrey Sesko, Vice President, Rosenthal & Rosenthal Inc.

Our strengthening currency affects various sectors differently, with U.S. manufacturers potentially encountering the greatest risk from the surging U.S. dollar.

Product exported by U.S. manufacturers becomes far less attractive to foreign consumers as a stronger U.S. dollar dramatically increases the purchase price for the foreign consumer. Consequently, this has a negative impact on revenue generated overseas.

This also poses an increase in competition from foreign entities who export their products to the United States as they deliberately drop their prices in an effort to increase sales into the U.S.

On the positive side, a rising dollar decreases the cost of the aforementioned imports, which U.S. manufacturers can take advantage of by purchasing more products abroad.

Lastly, since businesses are under no mandate to transfer the profits they earn from their exports, they may elect to reinvest the cash in foreign markets. As a result, they will avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Overall, manufacturers that rely less on sales to foreign countries should be in a more favorable position as they aren’t affected as much by the rise in our dollar.

photo

Ken Wengrod, President, FTC Commercial Corp.

Ken Wengrod, President, FTC Commercial Corp.

If you need to cope with the rise in the U.S. dollar … it’s too late.

Like most economists, many manufacturers were taken off guard by the recent surge of the U.S. dollar. With the exception of using derivatives and hedging currency risk, exporters do not have many options to cope with the rising U.S. dollar.

An astute apparel exporter should understand the importance of having a strong presence in Asia and Europe and that it will create a further demand for their merchandise in the U.S.

We see numerous companies power branding their image by placing their merchandise in key foreign retailers such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford and online sites such as Net-a-Porter and Farfetch. This sort of advanced creative thinking can ultimately bolster their U.S. sales because numerous U.S. retailers shop those markets to look for new trends.

The real question that the exporters should consider is how to keep their price level once the dollar weakens and capture the positive effects on their margins.

Before manufacturers consider exporting, they need to know their competitive advantages and cachet. The exporters should focus on their ultimate customer, the consumer, and what makes their merchandise truly unique for the local market that they are selling to.

The demand for California lifestyle apparel and luxury items, such as leather merchandise and accessories, which are manufactured in the U.S., is still high in Europe and Asia. It hasn’t been affected by the surge in the U.S. dollar.

People are willing to purchase items that have a certain cachet—a design that represents a certain lifestyle—and it separates the consumer from the crowd. This makes them feel good, even if it might be irrational.

We also see this behavior in our domestic market. A T-shirt being sold in a mass merchandiser for $20 is manufactured with the same piece goods as the T-shirt being sold for $70 in a small luxury store.

Yet, some buyers truly feel that there is a dramatic difference in the item. It’s a perception vs. the reality. This is one of the reasons that price should not be considered a long-term competitive advantage. It should only be considered as a temporary advantage, depending on the strength of the U.S. dollar.

photo

Paul Zaffaroni, Director of Investment Banking, Roth Capital Partners

Paul Zaffaroni, Director of Investment Banking, Roth Capital Partners

The U.S. dollar has seen its fastest increase in over 40 years and is up 14 percent since the beginning of 2015.

The rising U.S. dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive in international markets, reducing sales and profitability for large U.S. multinational companies that derive a large percentage of their sales outside the U.S.

At our Roth Capital Conference March 8–11, the institutional investors we met with were seeking public and private-growth companies that had less exposure to international markets and stood to benefit from lower gas prices domestically, along with an improving job market.

Many of the growth and middle market businesses we work with generate less than 15 percent of their sales internationally, so they have not been impacted as severely as large multinational companies.

Some of our clients with international sales in excess of 15 percent have implemented hedging strategies to offset a rising dollar, but most are focusing their efforts on finding ways to drive higher margin sales through their own stores or online through their websites.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on February 27, 2015

Las Vegas Fashion Trade Shows for Fall15: February 16-19, 2015

Two weeks ago I posted an article on my websiteFull Steam Ahead for US Economy in 2015? – Just Hold Your Horses There.

I am not convinced that 2015 is going to be the bumper year that the majority of the IMG_3834financial press has been spruiking. The article details my reasons for rebutting all the hype. Don’t get me wrong. I think 2015 will be a better economic year than we have been experiencing. I believe we should be happy with a steady and sustainable economic recovery rather than pumping up another bubble economy.

I was looking to the breaking of the Fall15 wholesale season at fashion trade shows in Las Vegas last week as a benchmark of buyer activity in fashion retail. Would all the talk of a charging economy stimulate a buying bonanza? Or would it be steady as she goes? In my opinion, it was the latter.

My surveying of retailers in the Long Beach, California area tells me that the optimism of the economic pundits is not being substantially felt at the checkouts. Until the buying public give retailers the nod that they have the money to spend, we can expect retail sales to lag behind other economic indicators.

Purchasing power is directly proportional to surplus disposable income. Most people need a job, and usually a well paying job, to have disposable income. Despite what the official job figures say, I believe there are still many unemployed and underemployed who are hidden from the government statisticians. Basically the economy needs to provide more adequately paying jobs before we see any significant spike in retail sales.

We could short circuit sustainable retail growth by just putting everything on credit again. But I hope people’s memories can extend back 7 years to the financial disaster of 2008. Then again, the folks who brought you ‘Too Big To Fail’ got the Senate back last November and increased their majority in the House, so anything is possible.

The California Apparel News review of last week’s shows is reposted below and is, as usual, upbeat. CAN is fulfilling it’s role as industry cheerleader.

Liberty Las Vegas Fall15

Liberty Las Vegas Fall15

My experience was that activity looked no different from this time last year. While there were lots of bodies at all the shows, I was not sure who they were. The shows are massive. It is difficult to divine who is who. Who are the people walking the aisles? Buyers? Exhibitors? Agents? Media? Industry types? Of course, all of the above. But I didn’t see furious order writing in the booths.

I was accompanied on the treks through the Valleys of the Garmentos by fellow countryman, good friend and professional photographer of note, Adrian Wlodarczyk of Shapeshift Photography.

As well as reporting on the shows and meeting with contacts and business prospects, I was buying accessories for the eclectic Long Beach gift store, Z Fabrique.

We walked the Modern Assembly shows at the Venetian/Sands Expo that started on Monday – Liberty, Agenda, Capsule, MRket, Stitch, Accessories The Show. As well as Offprice and CurveNV.

The MAGIC shows at the Mandalay Bay and LA Convention Center started on Tuesday – Project, ENKVegas, WWDMAGICPooltradeshow.

We revisited them all on Wednesday to follow up with some contacts and see if the Day 1 excitement had carried over.

The Modern Assembly shows were busy on Monday. There was a distinct lack of energy at the Mandalay Bay on the Tuesday morning. It picked up a bit as the day went on.

The feedback was mixed when I revisited my exhibitor contacts at both locations on Wednesday. Some agents and designers were very happy with business, some thought it was OK, some thought that things were quieter than expected.

Here are some of the labels that caught my eye:

King Baby jewelry at Liberty

King Baby jewelry at Liberty

King Baby is always impressive. They have store locations in Santa Monica, Nashville, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and in Beijing, China. They make their stuff in Santa Monica and actually to export to China.

 

Brooklyn Hat Co at Liberty

Brooklyn Hat Co at Liberty

Brooklyn Hat Co. was doing strong business with their floppy hats.

 

Bread & Butter from Sweden at Liberty

Bread & Butter from Sweden at Liberty

Bread & Butter underwear from Sweden is making a push into the US market at the very affordable wholesale price of US$7.

 

JanSport at Liberty

JanSport at Liberty

JanSport have been making good quality and affordable backpacks and camping gear for nearly 50 years. They have stayed up with the times, and fit comfortably in with the contemporary labels at Liberty. Their sales people are some of the friendliest you come across.

 

Wood Underwear at CurveNV

Wood Underwear at CurveNV

Wood Underwear is one of my personal favorites. Terresa Zimmerman, the founder and designer of Wood was one of my clients when she first launched the label. Terresa has successfully added camouflage prints to the collection over recent seasons. She has added stripes for Fall15.

 

Recycled water pipe bracelets from The Base Project at ENK

Recycled water pipe bracelets from The Base Project at ENK

I have had my eye on the hand carved recycled water pipe bracelets from The Base Project for a few seasons now. The Base Project provides a bridge between artisans in the developing world (the bracelets are carved by Namibian artisans) and the US fashion market and creates jobs and investment in community development projects.

 

Annie Hammer Jewelry at ENK Vegas

Annie Hammer Jewelry at ENK Vegas

Annie Hammer Jewelry was my find of last week.  The collection beautifully melds hip styling and the use of semi-precious stones in their powerful, raw states. The cuffs come in leather and horn with crystals and silver and studs and prints. There was a Labradorite point leather cuff for $70 wholesale that I would have snapped up on the spot if it had been the last day of the show. Annie also does earrings, necklaces and cuff links.

Do yourself a favor and take a good look at Annie’s range if you get a chance.

So that’s the Fall15 Vegas round of shows in the books. All in all, it was a positive week. The energy was good thoughout. Then again, that is always the case. When  you have that much creativity and that many creative people clashing with that much business and that many business people, there has to be a reaction.

The week is always stimulating. The start of a new season is always exciting and optimistic. Let’s hope the optimism is justified and we have a good, solid year of sustainable growth in the fashion industry and the economy in general.

Paul
paulbrindleyconsults.com 

 

California Apparel News

TRADE SHOW REPORT

Good International Turnout and Strong Interest in Immediates at Las Vegas Trade Shows

photo

MRket

photo

FNPlatform

LAS VEGAS—International buyers and retailers looking to restock diminished inventories circulated around the more than 20 apparel, accessories and sourcing trade shows in Las Vegas, including the MAGIC Marketplace shows (MAGIC, Project, ENKVegas, WWDMAGICPooltradeshow, Tents at MAGIC, Sourcing at MAGIC, ISAM, FN Platform, WSA Vegas and Playground); the Modern Assembly shows (LibertyAgenda, Capsule, MRket, Stitch and Accessories The Show); the Offprice show; CurveNV; WWIN (Womenswear in Nevada); and Kidshow.

MAGIC kicked off most of its shows on Feb. 17 with some exhibitors reporting an especially strong turnout.

“This is one of the better first days in a long time,” said Moshe Tsabag, whose Velvet Heart booth at WWDMAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center was consistently busy throughout opening day.

“They are coming and asking for Immediate goods, and we have it—we projected earlier,” Tsabag said, adding that some retailers have been struggling to fill in inventories for goods that have been stuck at the West Coast ports during the recent slowdown during contract negotiations. “People are looking for goods, and we are able to fulfill these orders quickly,” he said.

At the end of the first day, Stop Staring!’s James Atyeo was entering a stack of handwritten orders into the computer at the Stop Staring! booth at WWDMAGIC.

“So far, so good,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how this day would go, but from 10 a.m. on it hasn’t really slowed down all day.”

Kristen Keyes Sullivan, director of sales for Compton, Calif.–based Colosseum, was similarly upbeat.

“So far, it’s a great first day,” she said.

Sullivan was showing the company’s 3-year-old activewear collection in WWDMAGIC’s new dedicated section for activewear and yoga collections.

“It’s nice having a real activewear section,” she said.

The semiannual Sourcing at MAGIC show, held in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, opened a day early on Feb. 16. Nearly 40 countries represented at the gargantuan show were showing their expertise in manufacturing everything from athletic wear to zippers. Chinese exhibitors made up more than half the show.

This season, there was a focus on Egypt and its 25 qualifying industrial zones, where apparel made there gets duty-free entry into the United States under a trade preference program.

Mandalay Bay shows upbeat

At Project at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Christopher Yoo, wholesale director of the Los Angeles–based Andrew Christian fashion underwear brand, said that his booth had 50 appointments.

“Every hour was double booked,” he said.

Mario Pasillas, West Coast sales for 7 Diamonds, said he saw “an upswing in the way people are spending.”

The 7 Diamonds booth was in the same place it’s been for the last three years, Pasillas said.

“It’s tried and true,” he said. “People know where to find us. It’s great.”

At the upscale Tents at Project, retailers Jacqueline Forbes and Arlington Forbes, owners of Canvas Malibu at the Malibu Country Mart and Canvas Woman in Malibu, described business as “solid.”

“There is an uptick in buying,” Forbes said.

Marie Shaffer, who was working with Agave, said she saw Pitkin County Dry Goodsof Aspen, Colo.; Gary’s of Newport Beach, Calif.; Butch Blum, based in Seattle; Rodes, based in Louisville, Ky.; and Baer’s Den, with locations in Memphis and Birmingham Ala.

Opening day of ENKVegas, also at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, was for window shopping, said Amanda Parenti, a freelance salesperson for women’s contemporary brand Philanthropy.

“During the first day there’s a lot of looky loos,” she said. “The second day they always come back and order.”

Pooltradeshow expanded its style boundaries during its February 2015 run. Best known for T-shirts and casual looks, Pool became a forum for suits when Dutch brand Opposuits made its U.S. debut at Pool. The line’s suits retail for $99 and feature comic prints of dollar signs, leopard skin prints and ugly Christmas sweaters, said Jelle van der Zwet, a founder of the brand. “We saw some serious buyers looking for the latest trends,” he said of Pool.

Busy at the Sands and Venetian

The trade shows held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center and adjacent Venetian ballrooms started early, giving buyers a head start on shopping.

MRket, Accessories The Show and Stitch, all organized by Business Journals Inc., opened on Feb. 16.

By the second day of the show, everyone up and down the wide aisles glowed about the amount of traffic that was seen that Monday.

“We had six people working in our booth, and we could have used more,” said Bea Gorman, who runs the Salt & Pepper Sales showroom with Emmalena Bland at the Gerry Building in Los Angeles and was showing at Stitch. “We booked in one day what we booked the entire show one year ago.”

At the Liberty show, Leary Forteau, sales for Matiere, said he met with a lot of international retailers.

Dale Rhodes, vice president of sales at Katin USA, said he saw all his major accounts, including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Conveyor at Fred Segal. But many retailers were late on deadlines, Rhodes said. “Our deadlines for Fall and Holiday are past,” he said. “This show is for us to capture new boutique accounts.”

At Agenda, Brian Krauss, president of Carlsbad, Calif.–based footwear line MacBeth, introduced an apparel collection.

“We’re getting a lot of recognition for the brand by being at this show,” he said.

This season, Agenda quietly introduced a section called (+), or Plus, devoted to elevated streetwear.

At Capsule, Tina Ye, national agent for the True Collaborative Fashion showroom, with locations in Portland, Ore., and the Cooper Design Space in Los Angeles, said opening day was busy with buyers looking at the showroom’s lines Nau, Bridge & BurnPrairie Underground, Curator and Little River Sock Mill.

“People were open to look at the other lines we represent,” Ye said, adding that she saw several buyers from Japan and Korea.

Lingerie and swimwear buyers shopping at CurveNV got the news that the show, organized by French trade show organizer Eurovet, will partner next season with MAGIC and move to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Among the new exhibitors at the recent show was Joe’s Intimates, the lingerie, swimwear and lounge line from Joe’s Jeans and Onis Design Group.

“Day one has been good,” said Gihan Gabor, vice president of sales for Onis. “They’re surprised to see Joe’s intimates. We keep hearing how much people love their Joe’s Jeans.”

Mona Goldberg, senior vice president of sales and merchandising with luxury eco underwear collection Blackspade, said she was meeting with buyers from “all over,” including many international retailers.

“The energy has been great,” she said.

The Offprice show, held on the first floor of the Sands, opened on Feb. 15.

“This is a very good show for us,” said Patti Luner, director of sales for Studio City, Calif.–based Ingear, which shows its excess inventory at Offprice and its better lines and licensed collections at MAGIC.

“This is the time of year for Immediate goods,” she said. “At this show, they see this body and that print, and they can get it right now.”

Ed Bernard, president of Michigan-based Bermo Enterprises, described this season’s Offprice show as “phenomenal.”

“We had so much activity before the show that we knew it was going to be good,” he said.

We saw all of our domestic companies but quite a few new and more international than ever.”

Brisk at WWIN

The WWIN show at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino had particularly brisk traffic this season. Even during the third day of the four-day event, which ran Feb. 16–19, the tables were packed with buyers perusing new looks, taking notes or placing orders.

Elaine Nieh, president of Flair LLC in Burlingame, Calif., has been attending the event for 10 years to sell her stylish reversible jackets and crinkled polyester tops that are flared at the bottom. They wholesale for $40 to $50.

“It has been a very good show for us,” said Nieh, whose wide booth was separated into sections for Immediates, Spring and Fall. Buyers were placing orders for all three.

“I always feel comfortable at this show, and my clients know where to find me here,” she said, explaining why she keeps coming back year after year.

Over at the Sienna Rose booth, Sasha Rivera was meeting with buyers interested in the line’s vibrant print tops that had a certain bohemian look. Half the line made of georgette, polyester/spandex and polyester knit is manufactured in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest is made overseas. “I think our vibrant prints are attracting a lot of customers and also because of our price points,” she said of the collection that wholesales for $20 to $45.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on February 12, 2015

Apparel News Las Vegas Roundtable: What to Expect at the Upcoming Trade Shows


Next week is the Fall 2015 round of Las Vegas fashion trade shows known ubiquitiously (and misleadingly) as MAGIC.

Following is a re-post of an article from the February 5 California Apparel News that contains insights and tips from industry veterans on what they expect from the shows and how they will be approaching their buying strategies for the week. They also talk about the current economic climate is affecting their businesses.

For my take on where we are and where we are heading for 2015, see my latest article that went out yesterday.

I will be in Vegas for the 3 days of shows and will be reporting on what I saw and heard at the end of next week.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

 

SOUTH HALL: Last August, the Sourcing at MAGIC show was filled with hundreds of booths.

SOUTH HALL: Last August, the Sourcing at MAGIC show was filled with hundreds of booths.

TRADE SHOW

Las Vegas Roundtable: What to Expect at the Upcoming Trade Shows

With more than 20 fashion trade shows showcasing a huge selection of products and styles, MAGIC and its satellite shows will give retailers an opportunity to view the latest collections from brands across the country and around the world.

From MAGIC—whichincludes Men’s, WWDMAGIC, Project, Pooltradeshow,FNPlatform, WSA@MAGIC, ENKVegas, the Tents at Project, and Sourcing at MAGIC—to MRket, Accessories The Show and Stitch, which are part of Modern Assembly—which also includes Liberty, Agenda and Capsule—to CurveNV,Women’s Wear in Nevada (WWIN), Kidshow and OffPrice, every show offers an eyeball-popping array of choices.

California Apparel News Retail Editor Andrew Asch asked fashion veterans with different perspectives on what they expect from the show and what they are seeing with the economy.

Those interviewed included Alfredo Izaguirre, buyer and general manager for LASC, a 4,000-square-foot men’s boutique that has been serving West Hollywood, Calif., for more than three decades; Barbara Fields, president of the 35-year-old Barbara Fields Buying Office, who shops MAGIC as part of her retail-consulting practice; Mas Hayakawa, president of No Rest for Bridget, a “fast-fashion” style chain, with four locations, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Jennifer Althouse, owner of the Althouse contemporary boutique in downtown Los Angeles.

What season are you buying? How many days are you spending at the show? How many shows are you going to?

ALFREDO IZAGUIRRE: We are buying pretty wide, but we are making our dollars available for Immediates. If we are working with a new line, we’re going to be working with them on consignment. [We tell sales reps,] “In this game, you have options: You can have your merchandise sitting in a warehouse, or you can have it in a store.” I’d prefer a store.

Also, when you go to a show, you cannot go with a narrow mission. You have to be open to possibilities. You have to be open to considering the most alternatives possible. You have to see if a look is the same one as was shown last year. You have to think, “What will make it different from last year?”

If you buy through Fall, it is through lines that have a long relationship with the company. For LASC, these are lines such as Scotch & Soda and G-Star.

We just went to New York. I went to Capsule, Project and Liberty Fairs. I did Agenda in Long Beach. In Vegas, we will definitely go back to Capsule, Liberty and Project. You cannot cover every show.

BARBARA FIELDS: We’ll be there for two days.We’re buying Immediates and Back-to-School. Our primary coverage is for the juniors market—WWDMAGIC for juniors. When we shop the manufacturers there, we find out what are key best sellers. We take pictures of key items and publish them in a book that we call the “Best of the MAGIC Show.” By the end of the trade show, we have a report ready that we publish in our offices. We send it out after the show.

MAS HAYAKAWA: Immediates through Fall. We usually go to MAGIC, Project and Platform.

JENNIFER ALTHOUSE: I’m buying for Fall 2015. I do not tend to place orders in Las Vegas. I go there to see what is going on—who is showing, what are the trends. I only go for 24 to 48 hours. I’ll go to Capsule. I’ll walk Liberty even though I do not buy men’s. (It is in my future.) I do walk ENKVegas. At bigger shows, you’ll always find that small brand hiding in the corner. For me, that is what is so exciting, to find that new designer, the designer who is just starting out. If I find that one brand in Las Vegas, I’m a happy buyer, and it has been worth it.

How is the economy? Are your customers spending more? Will you be spending more at the Las Vegas shows?

A.I.: To be honest, we’ll spend the same as we did in February 2014. The bottom line to the deal is that there are [fewer] customers. Shoppers are more price conscious than ever. You see them coming in and looking at price tags. I really depend on my associates to use every opportunity they have with the customer to see if the price is an issue or if a secondary lesser-price-point item can be found. I do believe every customer that leaves empty handed from the store is an opportunity lost. Some people are still buying the way they had always shopped with us. They’ll spend $1,500 to $2,000 or more when they shop, but they are such a small group of customers. Years ago, $300 for a pair of jeans was not unusual in this shop. Now, perhaps, there’s just one style of jeans in the store at this price range.

In conclusion, my job has two main focal points. I’ll engage the customer so they will spend more money for items that they might not have planned for. I’ll also help them find items that can satisfy their need for deals and popularly priced items. We want them to come back over and over again to shop at LASC.

B.F: Basically, [retailers] are buying for shorter delivery periods, so they can keep track of what is happening trend-wise. Retailers have been buying this way since the Great Recession, and until things open up, this will be the way that they will shop; buying close-in for shorter delivery periods instead of extending themselves for future. It’s so they can keep a leash on the trends. It is where we come in. We take the risk out of buying because of our global sourcing. We have the answers. They can buy with conviction. We project what not to buy, what they should buy and what has peaked, so they can avoid any markdowns.

MH: The economy in the last few years has been a little complicated. I hear from our suppliers that the majority of retailers are suffering. For us, 2014 was the year of re-discovering ourselves and making it clear who we are. We looked at what we are buying, how we merchandise and how we market. I feel great that we went through this exercise in a good economy.

Our customers are used to our fast-fashion pricing. As we add unique products to our merchandise mix, they do spend more. That is the whole idea of our new concept store,OPT by No Rest For Bridget. We are giving our customers more options in shopping, including home goods, beauty, activewear, etc.

JA: I won’t be spending more than I have spent in the past. I have to be careful and make sure that buys are extremely tight. I will focus on the top five brands that sold the best at my boutique and buy deeper in those brands. For the next five brands, I’ll cherry pick items. January is a slow month in general. Even though you have sales, many people don’t want to spend because they spent their money in December. But people love that extra bargain. My expectations for January were low, but I reached beyond what I had thought I would sell. I had a great January.

Will there be an “it” item this season? Are there any fashion trends that will be peaking during the show?

AI: To me this season will be about “short boxers.” They are boxers, but they have loose fabric, and they look like little shorts. There’s a newness.

Also, for the past few years, we have been revolving around four main looks [for men]. There is the fitness/modern look mixed with sportswear that has prints all over. With this look, guys will pay $200 for drop-crotch sweat pants with great cuts. Examples of these brands are Drifter, Matiere and Eleven Paris.

There is the sophisticated dress for a special occasion or business-function look, super tailored European modern cool yet casual with great sneakers or cool modern dress shoes with rubber soles. Think of brands such as Tiger of Sweden, Puma Black Station,Descendant of Thieves and Tom Ford Sunglasses.

There is the Americana look. It’s been called the “Lumbersexual.” It circulates around wearing plaid shirts, slim cargo chinos, tailored jeans that are clean or distressed and boots that look like you can climb up a mountain and chop down a tree. “Lumbersexual” brings the Americana look up-to-date with a very tailored touch. I believe clear examples of this are Woolrich, Hickey Freeman, Burkman Bros, 3X1 and Shwood Eyewear.

There’s a fourth look. It’s the Australian influence in fashion—khaki pants, cargo shorts, drop crotches with chino materials that are gathered at the ankle plus cool surfer–inspired printed shirts, tees and tanks. Examples are Globe International, Ksubi and Insight.

B.F.: We’ll know after the show. But there are some things that have not sold. We’re going to be cautious with projections with denim joggers. They did not do well. Regular joggers did well, but denim joggers peaked.

MH: With the lack of newness in fashion in the last few seasons, we are focusing on our “Bridget style,” which is elegant and wearable for work/play. Our buying is also based on “what not to buy” based on our sales analytics. This year that includes boho, crops, Californian fashion and too many prints.

JA: I’m not sure about fashion trends. Trends are just starting to come in. I have always been a big believer in customers buying a carry-over item. An item that you can dress up and dress down, a staple piece, perhaps an oversize black blazer or a pair of black slacks, items of great quality that they can bring to work or in the evening.

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • International Clothing Size Chart

    International Clothing Size Chart
  • World Clock and Time Zones

    World Clock and Time Zones
  • Currency Converter and Exchange Rates

    Currency Converter and Exchange Rates