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LAS VEGAS FASHION TRADE SHOWS – FEBRUARY 2012 – DAY 3 AND REVIEW
Last week, I started writing this review of my final day at the February 2012 Las Vegas fashion trade shows with an old business axiom in mind – “it’s all about location, location, location” Why? Because for reasons that are privy to the high minds that produced the Project trade show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the booths on the floor had been completely reconfigured from the layout that people were accustomed to (I think buyers like the familiarity, I know I do – it saves lots of valuable time not having to reinvent the wheel every show). This had caused some choppy sales results for brands that usually do well at Project. I thought that was a interesting takeaway from the week, and a good way to theme this blog.
Lo and behold, I open my daily email update from Apparel News the next day, and the second article on the email is their review of the Vegas trade shows with the same quote in the first line! Except they called a maxim, instead of an axiom. Great minds think alike? I hope the folks at Apparel News think so.
Project is where you’ll find the most influential and commercially successful contemporary brands in the marketplace.
I dropped by to check out the traffic on Tuesday morning on my way to MAGIC – it was busy, busy. On Wednesday, it had dropped off considerably.
It seemed massive this time; with a higher proportion of men’s to women’s collections than usual. (The Spring show in August is usually bigger for women’s due mainly to the compression of the other trade shows around the country at this time of the year). For us trained seals, it took some getting used to. As I mentioned above, the producers reconfigured the floor set-up; they flipped the men’s booths with the women’s so that the main entrance lead into the men’s section, and they moved Workroom from it’s own nook and had it floating in the sea of booths. The feedback on foot traffic and sales from the collections was mixed but largely positive.
The main trends were consistent with the other shows in town:
- men’s workwear is big – check shirts, lots of dark denim, and work boots everywhere.
- bright pop (blue, green, red, yellow, orange) and burnt subtlety (orange and rust) continue into Fall.
- inky blues and greens (I particularly liked the green that Fluxus is rocking) are mixing in with the usual black and greys.
- the 60′s and 70′s motif is still strong across the board.
- printed denim was everywhere.
- the western motif is strong – the cowboy and Native American look, lots of fringing.
- knits and layering are dominant – ‘comfort’ with style and construction is the motto here.
- brown leathers with accents in boots for women seem the go – pointed and round toe.
- wide brim hats for women with the men are going for a wider brim in fedoras after the short brim Mad Men-style craze.
The Australian Connection
It was like Australia Week at Project. Lots of Australian collections were showing with quite a few featured in the Workroom section. I didn’t like the fact that Workroom had been moved from it’s previous location. It is only three shows ago that Workroom was walled off from the rest of Project and you had to specially register to attend. The space had the look and feel of a working collective. Since then, it has been steadily integrated into Project proper.
Workroom is the most fashion forward section of the entire MAGIC Marketplace. The clothing, accessories and shoe brands are carefully selected, juried, and well worth a close look.
A number of US-based showrooms specializing in Australian contemporary women’s collections were there; most notably, LA’s The SYDNY Showroom (Workroom) and the bi-coastal Melt Management (Project). The showrooms do both the sales and PR for their clients, as well as consulting on brand strategy, product placement, and market planning. I know that SYDNY also does the product distribution for their clients. The biggest barrier to success for an international brand is creating the right partnerships in the market. The holistic approaches of these two firms ensures probability of success is maximized and risk is minimized.
Elizabeth Lewis, one of the partners in The SYDNY, was very happy with week. The SYDNY were showing Samantha Wills jewelry, Lilya and bless’ed are the meek. All the collections did well. Elizabeth was especially happy with Lilya which is selling well everywhere in the US. It is a medium price point range with soft knits and pastels in a 60′s and 70′s feel which are great for layering – as Elizabeth expertly pointed out, “…. it’s something Anita Pallenberg would wear back in the day …”
It was great to see a couple of collections that I saw and spoke with at the Rosemount (now Mercedes) Fashion Week in Sydney last year at Project – Friend of Mine (repped by Melt) and Talulah (by New York based Bui-Lavry PR).
Back in the USA
Alfred Davis, one of the partners of the highly regarded LA showroom, T & A Showroom had a bumper show with all his lines, in particular the new Simon Hart by Dorsia and the on-trend Publish men’s collections.
The fabulous Chelsea with German bag collection, George Gina & Lucy told me all their 16 lines everything were selling well. Lots of bright colors and color blocking are big for them into Fall. Plus I got to pick up their always fun giveaways. This time they were thick rubber bracelets with affirmations and purple and orange cut-out cardboard ears as GGL Bullshit Protectors guaranteed as “essential protection against any gossip, shit talk & fashion chit-chat”. Love it!
Monica Gordon, owner of Chantal Accessories Showroom in the New Mart in Los Angeles, reported that she “had a good show” and opened new domestic accounts with the stylishly edgy bag collection, christopher.kon.
I missed one of my favorite people this time, Ginny Wong. She was at a meeting when I dropped by. Her peeps told me that they were definitely feeling the effects of the booth reconfiguring. While the show had been OK, they hadn’t seen as many of the buyers they usually do. Ginny has had the same cluster of booths for a while. I always knew where to go to find her.
From what I saw and from what I heard, Project was a busy show. Buyers were writing orders and leaving paper, and most showrooms and salespeople were very happy with the week. We have seen these mirages over the past couple of years. Let’s hope that this time the improvement is real and lasting.
Pool was fun as usual. Lots of emerging young contemporary designers showing the full range of clothing, shoes, bags, hats, jewelry, accessories of all kinds. There is also a cash and carry section.
The whole section is bright and colorful. They have drink, food and candy giveaways each day.
Again, the color palette in Pool was mostly brights, brights, brights. As usual, lots of junior and young contemporary fashions mixed in with accessories and shoes.
Well, that’s it for the Las Vegas round of fashion trade shows for February ’12. Make sure you check out my series of blogs covering the week. I would love your feedback. If you have any questions about anything in the blogs or about paul brindley consults, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.