“what’s hot, what’s not, what’s next”

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



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



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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



California Apparel News


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





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.


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.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on February 11, 2015

Full Steam Ahead for US Economy in 2015? – Just Hold Your Horses There

Back in mid January the California Apparel News carried an article titled, “Full Steam Image_YeartoYearAhead for 2015 as Economy Accelerates and Gas Prices Drop“. It is reproduced below.

The first two paragraphs of the article state:

Just about everyone agrees that 2015 is shaping up to be a good year for the U.S. economy.

“We believe that 2015, barring any unexpected event, should be the best year since the beginning of the recession in 2008,” said Esmael Adibi, director for the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

I had the pleasure of seeing Mr Adibi speak at a financial planning conference in Newport Beach in early 2008. The economy was faltering. The sub-prime foreclosures were becoming a serious issue. House prices were beginning their slide. All the indicators were pointing to a serious downturn.

Much to the angst of many at the conference who thought (or hoped, more like) that the housing price drop and the mounting foreclosure were just a short-term necessary correction of a obviously overheated real estate market, Mr Adibi predicted that real estate in Orange County would lose another 20% of its value. There was a stunned silence. After the presentation, there was a self soothing mix of disbelief about the prediction and bravado for the future among the attendees that I spoke to and heard in conversation.

I believed every word. Mr Adibi, who was then on Schwarzenegger’s Council of Economic Advisors, was impressive. Cool and dispassionate with an well articulated synthesis of the facts and trends, Mr Adibi ended up being proved right and wrong. Yes, there was another 20% to come off the real estate prices but there was going to be a whole lot more.

Mr Adibi knows what he is talking about. So, let’s look at his quote again: We believe that 2015, barring any unexpected event, should be the best year since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

“… the best year …” Not a good year. And, by the way, not everyone believes that 2015 is going to be a good year. I don’t. And I know quite few smart people in and out of the financial industry that are with me.

The New York Times on January 17 quoted Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics as stating that the overall economic benefits of the collapse in oil prices are significant. He predicted that it could add almost one percentage point to real GDP growth in the United States this year. In an economy trending at 2.25 percent annual growth, that’s a sizable gain.

That’s great. Typically when the economy is healthy, GDP is growing which leads to low unemployment and wage increases as businesses demand labor to meet the growing economy.

Investopedia tells us that the general consensus is that 2.5-3.5% per year growth in real GDP is the range of best overall benefit; enough to provide for corporate profit and jobs growth yet moderate enough to not incite undue inflationary concerns.

USA Today reported on January 4:

The stronger U.S. economy and increased employer confidence should continue to bolster job gains, and economists expect sluggish wage growth to finally accelerate, though they’re divided on how quickly that will happen.

Employers added 321,000 jobs in November, the most in nearly two years, and 2014 is on track to be the strongest for job growth since 1999. Economists expect a Labor Department report Friday to show that 230,000 jobs were added in December, according to median estimates, slightly below the 241,000 average for the first 11 months of the year.

So why am I am not on the “Party like its 1999” bandwagon? The headlines in the financial press are screaming that the economy is charging ahead. Am I just being a wet blanket?

I don’t think I am, for these 3 reasons:

  1. I am not seeing all this optimism reflected on the street at the retail level.
  2. If we are back to pre-Great Recession employment levels, it doesn’t feel like it.
  3. And I have a sneaking suspicion that we are in for a stock market correction.

Out there in the real world, the retailers that I am speaking with on a regular basis are not doing well. They are not experiencing the significant bump in business that you would expect from an economic upturn and an optimistic buying public. The holiday season was just OK and January was slow.

When retail sales for the 2014 holiday season fell short of forecasts, many industry watchers declared the crucial shopping season a disappointment.

The Federal Reserve noted that: General merchandise retailers indicate that sales were generally sluggish and below plan for the holiday season overall. However, most retail contacts noted that, while November and early December were sluggish, sales did pick up toward the latter part of the month, especially in the week after Christmas. When everything was on sale, the Fed neglected to mention.

Just last week, Reuters reported that U.S. consumer spending recorded its biggest decline since late 2009 in December 2014 with households saving the extra cash from cheaper gasoline.

But on December 23, Bloomberg reported:
The American consumer is back, recharging the U.S. economic expansion.

Households splurged on new cars, appliances, televisions and clothing as spending climbed 0.6 percent in November, beating the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, according to figures from the Commerce Department issued today in Washington. The economy grew at the fastest pace in 11 years, another report showed.

So which is it? From what I am hearing, it is the former.

The nine-month labor dispute at the Ports of Long Angeles and Long Beach that is now threatening to shutdown the already log-jammed ports is having an impact on retail and the economy in general but there seems to be some disagreement in the financial press as to what the effect has been so far.

USA Today notes:
A full-blown port shutdown could cost the U.S. economy some $2 billion a day, the National Retail Federation has warned. Unlike some past labor disputes involving the ports, the latest escalation at least comes at a time when the holiday season has passed and many retailers aren’t as in dire need of shipments of merchandise.

CNBC reports:
According to a Kurt Salmon analysis, congestion at West Coast ports could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year. That congestion cost comes from a combination of the higher price of carrying goods and missed sales due to below optimal inventory levels.

As of now, smaller retailers have been able to manage the shipping delays and inventory levels with suppliers eating increased shipping costs due to rerouting and air freight. The vertical integrated supplies must be feeling the cost and inventory pinch. The independent retailer has the benefit of the importer bearing the increased costs of getting goods to market. The longer the dispute goes on, the deeper the effect on the economy has to be.

Some reports indicate that even if negotiations lead to a quick resolution from here, normal operations are still months away because of the backlog so far. It may even take the bulk of 2015 for shipments to normalize.

The recent unemployment figures show an unemployment rate of 5.6%. Supposedly, we are back to pre-Great Recession employment levels? Really? What are these jobs? Are they full-time? What about wages growth for those who are employed? I am very skeptical about the unemployment number. Many unemployed and underemployed are not counted. Without decent paying jobs, there is no disposable income. Without disposable income, there is no significant spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the Labor Force Participation Rate at 62.9% for January 2015. That’s the lowest it has been since 1978. Why is it so low?

Business Insider explains:
On the one hand, America is aging, and the baby boomers are beginning to retire. That leads to a natural demographic decline in the participation rate.

On the other hand, the US is coming out of the worst recession it has faced in decades, and the participation rate dropped much more sharply since 2008.

But just last week Bloomberg also reported:
U.S. employers added 257,000 jobs in January, capping off the best three months of consecutive employment growth in 17 years. December’s job gains were revised up to 329,000 and November to a whopping 423,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report Friday, the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent as more people started looking for work again. Best of all, average hourly earnings went up by 0.5 percent in one month, the most since November 2008.

The Stock Market
The stock market has been rising steadily since it bottomed out in March 2009. That is a long time. Many believe the market is overvalued and due for a correction. A correction is defined as a reverse movement, usually negative, of at least 10% in a stock, bond, commodity or index to adjust for an overvaluation.

In late January, CNN Money reported that: The bears build their case that a crisis is near on four factors: falling oil prices, stagnant wages, the “two-edged sword” of a strong US dollar and big trouble abroad.

The strong dollar makes US exports more expensive and less attractive to foreign buyers.

While Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies reported solid earnings in January, their shares dropped as much as 10% because of forecasts of weaker sales abroad due to the strong U.S. dollar. These companies employ thousands.

Due to the lower oil prices, energy companies and related sectors are laying off thousands. The lower gas prices are helping the economy on one hand but hurting on another.

Global Economy
The global economy is sagging. Just yesterday, NPR reported:

There’s good reason to be concerned, says Jeffrey Snider, head of global investment research at Alhambra Partners.

“Whenever you see oil prices collapse, especially by something like 60 percent, something else is going on, and so therefore, any benefit that might come to consumers in the form of lower energy prices is being overwhelmed by whatever it is that’s causing oil to fall in the first place,” Snider says.

And falling oil prices are a clear sign of a dangerously weak global economy, he says.

“You have economies from Europe, Japan, China that are either in or very close to recession or some form of growth that is significantly degraded,” Snider says.

And, he says, recent data suggest U.S. consumers are saving most of their windfall from lower energy prices, not spending it to fuel growth.

“That’s an indication of very cautious behavior,” he says.

That caution suggests underlying problems in the U.S. economy, including slow wage growth, he says.

From CNN Money:
The question is whether American consumers and businesses will spend enough to offset the global slowdown. But so far, wages have been flat for many Americans during the recovery.

Adjusting for inflation, median weekly wages were $790 in the fourth quarter of 2007; they barely budged up 1% to $796 the last quarter of 2014.

And the CNN Money article concludes with:
Weaving their four factors together, the bears’ quilt for 2015 is quickly looking gloomy and gray. The U.S. markets are already overdue for a correction — a drop of 10% or more — and this global backdrop could exacerbate the fall when it comes.

I hope that the Bears and I are completely wrong.

So you can see that not everyone is convinced that 2015 is shaping up as a good year for the US economy.

I want the economy to improve as much as anyone else. We have had 6 long years of cold and painful recovery from the deliberate superheating and crashing of the economy by the Bush Administration. While the private sector hasn’t completely rebuilt the economy in their own likeness as planned, big business has done very nicely thank you very much after being bailed out by public money, and in place to reap the rewards of the publicly subsidized recovery. It is time for us, the public who rescued the economy from near collapse, to enjoy some economic sunshine.

I’ll be happy with the best year since the Great Recession.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults


California Apparel News


Full Steam Ahead for 2015 as Economy Accelerates and Gas Prices Drop


Just about everyone agrees that 2015 is shaping up to be a good year for the U.S. economy.

“We believe that 2015, barring any unexpected event, should be the best year since the beginning of the recession in 2008,” said Esmael Adibi, director for the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

But how that translates into apparel and textile makers is another thing.

Even though the economy was on solid footing last year with the nation’s gross domestic product rising an estimated 2.3 percent, several clothing manufacturers and retailers saw overwhelming challenges to their business.

A shift in the way clothes are sold and by whom continues to transform the industry, creating winners and losers. Particularly affected are brands and retailers that cater to the juniors market. They have seen the floor pulled out from under them as teens flock to the lowest-priced seller.

“Children’s and teens’ apparel did well last year, but the teen stores didn’t,” said Britt Beemer, a retail analyst and founder of America’s Research Group, which polls 1,200 consumers a week to take the pulse of their retail-spending attitude. “Wal-mart and Target got 9 percent more teen shoppers than one year ago.”

Juniors retailers such as Forever 21 and H&M have been expanding their stores. They offer merchandise at rock-bottom prices and churn out new styles faster than you can sew on two new buttons.

“For us it has been a good year, but it is tumultuous,” said Ike Zekaria, vice president and co-owner of Los Angeles–based teen retailer Windsor Fashions Inc. “A lot of our competitors are going out of business.”

Those competitors are Delia’s, a New York–based juniors apparel retailer that announced at the end of last year it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closing its 95 stores after being in business for 22 years.

The Wet Seal, a Southern California juniorswear store chain that has been on and off the financial ropes, said in January it would shutter 338 stores and lay off 3,650 employees. The chain still has 173 stores, based mostly in malls. Many speculate that the teen retailer will be headed for bankruptcy court soon if a buyer for the retailer isn’t found soon.

To add to pricing challenges, apparel makers are seeing mid-tier retailers scooping up brand-name licenses or the names themselves and selling them exclusively at their stores. Traditional independent brand names that have been a staple in the stores are being booted out the door.

One Los Angeles company executive, who didn’t want his name or company mentioned, said that for years he supplied Kohl’s. But the Wisconsin-based retailer started stocking the Vera Wang, Rock & Republic and Jennifer Lopez brands. Three years ago he was cut out of the loop, costing him $24 million in sales.

Many apparel makers were working every angle to market their labels. Chaudry, a Los Angeles label started in 1976 by Krishan Chaudry, has seen its revenues increase 30 percent in the last year, but the company has taken to the social-media airwaves to get the word out about the line, known for its brightly colored bohemian prints and crochet details. It caters to the 30- to 55-year-old woman. “We are doing everything possible to reach the influencers and bloggers,” said Ravi Bhushan, the company’s sales director. “We are doing all the trade shows.”

Recently, the brand added a new label called Chaudry Black, a line of hand-beaded dresses and tops selling at Anthropologie and Free People. Wholesale prices range from $99 to $169.

“It is challenging out there. You have to be innovative,” Chaudry said. “If you have things that are different, it is very good.”

Gas it up

This year, retailers and apparel makers have given the gift that keeps on giving. Gas prices have plummeted, now at a national six-year low. Who would have thought that the average price of gas across the nation would nosedive 35 percent in a year, dipping from $3.23 a gallon to around $2.11 a gallon. Gas prices are slightly higher in California.

That means instead of spending $58 to fill up a mid-size car, it now costs $38. Gas prices are expected to remain low through 2016. “Whenever gas prices go down, it is like a tax cut for consumers,” Adibi said. “That extra money does two things. It reduces people’s debt or increases their savings. Or it can be spent. In all likelihood, a good portion of it is going to be spent.”

The downside is for oil-producing states and countries now seeing their oil revenues drop. In the United States, Texas is the country’s No. 1 oil producer, followed by North Dakota and then California. So there could be some layoffs in the state’s petroleum industry and declines in revenue for businesses and services that supply them.

It’s off to work we go

Job creation in California has been more robust than in the rest of the country, offsetting the large number of jobs lost during the recession that started in 2008.

California’s unemployment rate in November was 7.2 percent compared with 8.4 percent during the same month in 2013. The state’s unemployment rate peaked in February 2010 at 12.4 percent.

But Los Angeles County is still behind in tackling its unemployment rate, which stands at 7.9 percent. That should change by mid-2015. “Los Angeles still has not recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession,” said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “We are still very reliant on government jobs and jobs tied to the defense industry. Government jobs have been slow to come back. But by mid-2015, Los Angeles County should recover all the jobs it lost during the recession.”

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate peaked at 13.3 percent in July 2010.

“Industries where gains have been more pronounced have been in healthcare, professional services and business services,” Kleinhenz said. “Leisure and hospitality have been adding jobs over the past couple of years due to the growth in the tourism component of the local economy.”

Jobs associated with the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach should also be on the upswing because international trade is expected to rise, even though the ports have been plagued with congestion problems.

“Import volumes on the West Coast, despite all the problems there, were the highest since 2009,” said Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, which tracks national port traffic for the National Retail Federation.

For the first 11 months of 2014, cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles were up 6.5 percent over the previous year while at the Port of Long Beach they rose 1.7 percent.

Jobs in California’s apparel manufacturing sector continued to slide, dipping 4.1 percent in November compared with the previous year. Nationally, they declined 6.4 percent.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on January 22, 2015

January 2015 Fashion Trade Shows – Just OK So Far

Agenda Long Beach

Agenda Long Beach

There was no waiting for the 2015 US fashion trade show circuit to get cranking. The first Monday of the year saw Agenda hit the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA on  January 5 & 6.

Agenda Long Beach is an easy one for me as I live about 2 miles up Ocean Ave. from the Convention Center. I was there both days.

 I thought the traffic and energy was a bit off from this time last year. Here is my review of last January’s show.

Agenda has grown impressively over the past few years. Since 2012, the Long Beach show has expanded to over 750 brands, and is reportedly attended by 10,000+ buyers, media, distributors, and influencers from 49 states and 50 countries according to the Agenda website.

Agenda now has shows twice yearly in Long Beach, Las Vegas (during MAGIC week) and Manhattan during New York Men’s Market Week.

Long Beach is the largest and most diverse of the 3 shows with categories including lifestyle, streetwear, contemporary, women’s, accessories, action sports, outdoor, footwear, and both surf and skate hardgoods. The Long Beach show also includes peripheral marketing events, industry parties, and the Agenda Emerge conference, a sports and streetwear brand building conference.

The Spanish label, KLING at WMNS repped by my good friend, Bernadette Mopera of

The Spanish label, KLING at WMNS repped by my good friend, Bernadette Mopera

Agenda has developed from a predominently skate and street show to encompass a contemporary progressive women’s section known as WMNS, and a Capsule Show-like higher-end men’s section called The Woods.

Most of the action and energy still resides in the skate and streetwear section which includes the skate focused The Berrics Agenda, a collaboration with The Berrics, the leading skate media website in the world.

Most media reports were raving about how the show was so busy both days. I definitely felt that activity and vibe were down from last year. I am not sure why. Some have said it is because the show is so early in the year that buyers aren’t ready to go after the holiday season but that hasn’t been an issue in past years.

Maybe it is because the show has made too much effort to be all things to all people and has got away from its core following in skate and street and surf. I don’t think it is that either because this expansion of the show’s reach has been occuring over the past few years, and its following has continued to increase. Besides, the skate and street and surf is bigger than ever which ensures show attendance will be at least as large as previous.

I think it all comes back to the economy. I am skeptical that the economy is destined for the bounce in 2015 that so many are predictng and expecting. Gas prices are down now but that won’t last. The employment numbers are better but what jobs are being created. There is optimism in the fashion market but we have seen how quickly that can turn (there have been 3 or 4 phantom recoveries in the economy over the past few years, only to see conditions flatten or or deflate in the ensuing months).

The uncertainty in the economy in general is being reflected in the wild swings in the stock market. While there is uncertainty, people keep money close. Fashion is for most people a disposable income buy. Until there is some confidence that the dollar you spend on fashion won’t be needed later for something more elemental, then the market will continue to sputter along.

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week – Summer 201520150112_124704

January 12 – 16 saw the Summer 2015 edition of Market Week in the downtown fashion district showroom buildings.

People were expecting a busier market on the back of the general optimism about the economy. Many media outlets reported good activity – I have reposted the California Apparel News re-cap below.

It looked pretty quiet to me. The January market is a difficult one to predict. Some years it has been busy due to retailers coming out of a good holiday season with cash and, therefore, holes to fill on their floors. In other years, buyers are buying there late Spring and Summer closer to delivery.

The visiting booth shows, Designers & Agents in the New Mart and Brand Assembly in the Cooper Building, were lightly attended when I was there.

A good anecdotal indicator of how busy a market week is, is by how hard it is to get an elevator in the New Mart or the Cooper. On busy weeks, the wait feels like forever. This time there was hardly a wait at all.

Why was the week quiet? I think for the same reasons I stated above. Uncertainty in the economy and uncertainty in the retail market about the economy and how genuine the much talked about 2015 economic bounce will be.

There are other significant early-year shows that could shed more light on how the fashion buyers are setting up for the year.

From media reports, ENK’s first shows of 2015 – Intermezzo and Circuit –  in New York on January 5 -7 drew big crowds of buyers. If true, this is a great indicator of optimism in the women’s contemporary segment.

Apparel News reported good traffic and buyer activity at the January edition of Swim Collective, which included with the launch of the activewear show, Active Collective at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA on January 15 & 16.

Agenda NY was this week. It will be interesting to read the reviews over the coming days.

I am looking forward to MAGIC week in Las Vegas starting Monday, February 16. This is the main kick-off of Fall 2015 wholesale selling in the US. There have been false dawns of market recovery at this time of year over the past 3 years (particularly in 2012 and 2013). I expect increased year over year activity this year. Whether a strong showing by buyers this time might convince the market that sustainable improvement in 2015 is real, we shall see.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults

From Apparel News


Small January Market in L.A. Proves to be a Hit with Locals and Upbeat Retailers


Australian line Banana Blue at the Salt & Pepper Showroom at the Gerry Building.


Bridget Eldred, sales rep for the Vava, Voom and James & Joy lines, at Select.


J.P. & Mattie embroidered top at Designers and Agents


Sol Angeles at Designers and Agents


Ada Collection belts at Brand Assembly


Shala Theus at the T & A Showroom at the California Market Center.


Becky Ramirez conducts a meeting at the Siblings Showroom at the Cooper Design Space.


Marilyn Rodriguez of Room at the January run of the LA Fashion Market


Meeting at Lady Liberty’s The Globe showroom


Liza Stewart Showroom at The New Mart


Bohemian Bones at Brand Assembly

The first Los Angeles Fashion Market of 2015 proved to be surprisingly upbeat for many exhibitors, who reported seeing steady traffic from primarily West Coast retailers.

The show kicked off on Jan. 11 at the California Market Center, the Gerry Building and select showrooms at The New Mart. Jan. 12 was the official start for The New Mart and the Cooper Design Space as well as theDesigners and Agents, Select and Brand Assembly shows.

The January show typically draws a smaller crowd than the big Fall and Spring markets in March and October. Although most showroom reps reported seeing local buyers, a few said retailers traveled from Washington, Arizona, Michigan and Hawaii to shop the show.

Walking the CMC

Buyer traffic at the California Market Center was on the slow side. While no one was breaking any records, there were signs of brightness.

Recently, the Karen George & Co. showroom on the third floor tweaked its interior space, lifting the carpet to reveal industrial concrete floors. The showroom owner changed the lighting, painted the walls and took out some tables to create more space. The result has been more buyer walk-in traffic. It also helps to be right next to the elevators.

Sande Zipser, a sales rep at the showroom—with five lines, including Poema, Sisters and Bagoraz—said business had been steady. “This has been the best market for this time of year,” she said.

She and showroom owner Karen George said buyers coming in seemed to have a more optimistic economic outlook for the future.

At the T & A Showroom on the fifth floor, sales representative Shala Theus said Sunday was the busiest day for market. Mostly out-of-town buyers were visiting during the first days of the event, which ended on Jan. 14, but local buyers said they planned to pop by the showroom on Jan. 15 or 16, when things were less hectic. “People are buying Immediates and things to be delivered in March and April,” Theus said. The showroom carries 12 young-contemporary lines that range from Dear CreaturesEight to Four and Paolo Hernandez to Colombian lines Color Siete and Rosé Pistol.

For new showroom Le Meilleurs Inc., also on the fifth floor, this was a disappointing market for its young contemporary lines Kaii and Bttn. Phillip Kim, the showroom’s sales rep, said he had some appointments, but the walk-in traffic was disappointing. “The foot traffic that walks in may only have one boutique, or they are trying to start an online store or they are thinking about opening a store,” he said.

Having Fall merchandise in stock was a boon for showrooms. Robert Friedman, who for years has had a self-named showroom on the third floor of the California Market Center, said he got Fall orders for his Canadian line Frank Lyman Design.

“I got some good appointments and good orders, but in general it was slow,” he noted.

Consistently busy at The New Mart

Some showrooms at The New Mart opted to open a day early, on Sunday, Jan. 11, which proved to be a busy day.

“Sunday was probably our busiest day,” said XCVI’s Matthew Gill, who said traffic throughout market was split between locals and out-of-town buyers.

“They seem to be excited to be seeing Summer,” he said.

For Rande Cohen, owner of the Rande Cohen Showroom, Sunday was “fabulous.”

“It was one of my best days as far as quantity and order writing,” she said, adding that Sundays are always a hit with buyers.

“They appreciate working on Sunday. It’s not as crowded,” she said.

In addition to local retailers, Cohen said she was seeing “a lot of Arizona and a lot of Hawaii.”

Cohen said her lines—including Ann Ferriday tops and dresses, Crown Jewels T-shirts, Peace Love World’s beach-themed casualwear, Old Gringo boots, and Fickle’s made-in-LA pieces—were well received.

She was particularly pleased with the reaction to PJ Salvage sleepwear and loungewear.

“My reorder business was off the charts—and I don’t say that very often,” she said.

Diane Vonderheide, owner of The Vonderheide Showroom, also got off to an early start on Sunday but said the good turnout continued throughout the market.

“We had traffic every day,” she said.

For Liza Stewart, owner of the Liza Stewart showroom, the market was surprisingly good.

“January in LA has traditionally been a fairly strong market, but we were all surprised,” she said. “The environment was super positive. Our buyers were very open to try new resources. We’ve had a lot of openness to quality and that price structure for fine fabrications.”

Good business at Cooper

For many showrooms at the Cooper Design Space, buyer traffic and sales were better than expected at LA Fashion Market.

Israel Ramirez, owner of the Siblings Showroom, said his women’s contemporary showroom enjoyed the best sales of a January market since it started business in 2009. “Traffic was up slightly,” Ramirez said. “[Buyers] were committed to buying more.”

However, a crowded trade-show calendar has many showroom owners keeping an eye on the next shows.

On Jan. 14, the last day of the LA Fashion Market, Patrick Heitkam of the Ted Baker London showroom shipped the U.K.-headquartered line’s Autumn and Winter 2015 collection to the Project New York show, which runs Jan. 19–21. However, he said that the recent run of the LA Fashion Market proved valuable for his company.

“It gives us a head start on the season,” Heitkam said. “If [an item] looks like it is going to be a bestseller, then we can produce more stock.”

So far, buyers have been interested in outerwear for men and prints on dresses for women.

At the Noella showroom, the only new looks displayed during the January market were the pre-Fall looks from its client Sachin & Babi, headquartered in New York. Lien Vets, Noella’s owner, said her other clients would introduce their Fall looks at the Coterie show in February.

At the recent run of the January market, Mikey Herlo exhibited the Cotton Citizen brand men’s line at the Community Service showroom and saw retailers such as American Rag, Fred Segal and Ron Robinson. Other retailers seen at the building included Evereve, headquartered in Edina, Minn.; KSL Resorts; and Nordstrom.

Going gently at the Gerry

The Gerry Building wasn’t overwhelmed with buyers, but there were a few wandering the halls. As Bea Gorman was showing a visitor around her Salt & Pepper Showroom, which she shares with Emmalena Bland, two buyers walked in and said, “We’re looking for jewelry.”

They were in luck. The showroom carries an Israeli line of jewelry called Zzan, which has been doing extremely well, Gorman said. The line recently sent new items to update the showroom’s collection.

Gorman said this show helped her open up new accounts for Zzan and the Australian line Banana Blue, which sent samples from its Fall 2015 collection for market week. “In general we have had an okay show, but the reaction to Banana Blue has been fantastic and customers have come in and placed orders.”

The showroom is also carrying a new sweater line called Santiago Knits. It is designed by Julio Santiago, an Argentine designer, and is hand loomed in Los Angeles from light materials such as silk, linen and viscose. “We had a lot of customers who told us they don’t want wool sweaters,” Gorman said.

Business at the Vertigo showroom, whose owner, Shawn Far, also owns the Gerry Building, was very subdued for the mid-tier line of women’s clothing. “It has been pretty slow. It is typically not our best market,” said account executive Natalie Curiel.

Busy at Lady Liberty

The January market proved to be a busy one for the showrooms of the Lady Liberty building. Showroom owners and staff claimed higher retail traffic compared with last January.

Leary Forteau, a sales rep with The Park Showroom, estimated that he saw 20 percent more traffic compared with last year.

“I haven’t seen traffic like this in January. It was definitely busier,” he said.

Forteau considered it more remarkable that buyers browsed The Park’s men’s brands because the LA Fashion Market is typically considered a women’s show. Forteau saw retailers such as American Rag, Kitson and The Den in Carlsbad, Calif.

The January market was a time for introductions at The Park. Brands making their showroom debuts included Michael Stars’ men’s line as well as New Zealand brands I Love Ugly and Thing Thing.

At Lady Liberty’s The Globe showroom, Tracey Smith, a co-owner, estimated traffic increased 30 percent for her contemporary showroom, which represents brands such as Sam & Lavi, Tryb and Torn by Ronny Kobo. “People are ready to look for Fall,” Smith said. “They’re not so many people looking to fill holes,” Smith said of retailers ordering Immediates. Boutique retailers such as Madison, Ron Herman and American Rag visited The Globe, as did retailers from the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain West.

Bright spots at Select

On the CMC’s main floor was the better contemporary–brands show Select. There were some 24 accessories and clothing brands that displayed their lines inside the Fashion Theater. The traffic inside the theater, where the aisles were wide, was sparse.

“It has been pretty slow, I think, for everyone,” said Bridget Eldred, a sales rep for the contemporary women’s brands Vava, Voom and James & Joy. “But we have had a few orders come in.”

Voom, designed by Joy Han in Los Angeles, is a consistent participant in Select.

Another regular participant in the show is New York–based Magaschoni, a luxury line with a reputation for quality fabrics. On display were mostly sweaters made of cashmere or cashmere blends, but the company also makes dresses, pants, jackets and blouses.

David Merk, Magaschoni’s senior vice president of sales, said the show was going well for him. “The traffic has been somewhat spotty, but the accounts we contacted have come in. We haven’t seen a lot of new accounts,” he said.

Broad reach at D&A

While there were many California retailers shopping the Designers and Agents show at The New Mart, many of the exhibitors reported seeing buyers from across the country.

“It’s been all over the place—Dallas, Chicago, Florida, Australia,” said Christopher Seelif, owner of the B&S Showroom in New York and a longtime D&A exhibitor.

“We always do well at this show, Seelif said. “In January, we do really well.”

Seelif said the retailers are optimistic but also realistic.

“They want things they know will sell, but they want special things,” he said.

The lines carried by the B&S Showroom are casual lifestyle collections with an “LA–meets–New York vibe,” Seelif said. His lines include New York–based Go by Go Silk and Lola & Sophie, Los Angeles–based Illia and R&R Surplus, which is based in Arizona but made in Los Angeles.

Another longtime D&A exhibitor, Mattie Ilel, designer of Los Angeles–based J.P. & Mattie, said she was seeing a mix of Southern California buyers but also had appointments with retailers from Hawaii and Colorado

“It gets crowded first thing in the morning, and then the appointments start,” she said on opening day of the show.

This season, J.P. and Mattie introduced bags made from recycled leather jackets mixed with the detailed hand embroidery done by Hill Tribe artisans in Southeast Asia. Some of the styles incorporated details such as jacket pockets in the final design. The company also introduced a group of hand-embroidered tunic tops in an ultra-lightweight fabric.

Los Angeles designer Bryan Emerson was a new exhibitor at D&A, showing her Bryan Emerson line of hand-dyed luxury scarves.

Emerson said she decided to show at D&A because she was looking to land more California accounts, and she did, adding that she saw retailers from across Southern California as well as buyers from as far as Colorado.

Brand Assembly

At the Brand Assembly show, a mix of returning exhibitors and new contemporary lines met with buyers in the Penthouse of the Cooper Design Space.

Tuesday was a busy day for Elizabeth Lewis, owner of The SYDNY showroom, a long-time exhibitor at Brand Assembly who opted to show inJanuary for the first time.

Lewis represents and distributes Australian lines such as Tiger Lily, Ministry of Styleand a new line, Auguste, which features boho-chic pieces such as floral dresses and rompers.

A few of Lewis’ lines were showing Summer collections, and some were showing “a little Fall.”

Retailers are optimistic and “excited to try new things,” Lewis said. “They’re looking for more special pieces. The big deterrent last year was the weather, which you can never predict.”

This season, Los Angeles label Rachel Pally showed in two locations: the company’s longtime showroom, Hatch, at The New Mart, as well as at Brand Assembly.

Nicole Lustigman, who represents the line on the East Coast and was in Los Angeles to show the line at Brand Assembly, said she was mostly seeing West Coast buyers, although she added, “I had two from Michigan.”

Designer Ada Komorniczak was showing at Brand Assembly for the first time with her Sacramento, Calif.–based belt line, Ada Collection.

“We’ve been looking for placement here in Los Angeles,” Komorniczak said. “We are a California-based company but haven’t been doing any LA markets for the last couple of years. We like the layout of this show. So far it’s been great. I’ve been able to reconnect with some retail stores we had down here.”

Exhibiting at a show like Brand Assembly also gives Komorniczak a chance to show buyers how to tie her belts and style them with pieces from the other exhibitors’ lines.

“Belts are a special category,” she said. “Stores that have been carrying us for years say the belts help sell the clothing. It’s an interactive accessory.”

Posted by Paul Brindley
on October 22, 2014

Los Angeles Fashion Market Week Spring 2015: October 13-15, 2014

LA Fashion Central - 9th & Los Angeles

LA Fashion Central – 9th & Los Angeles

Last week saw the the Spring 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Fashion Market Week inhabit the the downtown fashion district.

What is Market Week? It’s when the seasonal business of fashion happens in the showrooms and trade shows of the main wholesale centers: the California Market Center (CMC), The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, The Lady Liberty Building, The Gerry Building and other venues in the Fashion District that is centered on the intersection of 9th and Los Angeles Streets in downtown LA.

This is not the glitz and glamour of the fashion business. This is not Fashion Week, it’s Market Week. The runway shows are done, the cocktail parties are over, it’s now down to the business of buying and selling the fashions that you see in stores and online starting in early 2015.

The Spring market in October and Fall market in March are the two main weeks of the year.

The indivdual trade shows were:

Brand Assembly at Cooper Design Space

Brand Assembly at Cooper Design Space

Designer and Agents (100 booths, 125 brands), Coeur and Brand Assembly (40 spaces, 70 brands) were at capacity participation.

Hillary France, Co-Founder and CEO of Brand Assembly reported consistently busy traffic with 200 buyers per day on Monday and Tuesday including Intermix, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Revolve and Nasty Gals. The brand at Coeur were happy with activity. Brand Assembly and Coeur provide a productive synergy for buyers with their mix of curated established and emerging apparel and accessories labels.

LA-made Kadletz kadletzcollection.myshopify.com

LA-made Kadletz

Buyer traffic at the other shows was choppy. As was the activity in most of the showroom buildings, except for the Cooper Design Space that always attracts the most buyer attention due to it being the home to the most contemporary showrooms in LA.

I have re-posted the California Apparel News review of market week below. CAN likes to play up the success of market weeks. As an advocate of the LA fashion industry, it is completely understandable that they would always look on the bright side.

I do not think that last week was as successful as the CAN article states. I think it was a solid week. While LA is the overall largest fashion center in the US, it is really a large regional market when it comes to wholesale sales. LA Market Week is on the end of the string of the trade show circuit for Spring selling. Most labels broke their Spring collections in August in Las Vegas. The New York shows are in September. I doubt that many west coast and international buyers wait until LA Market to do most of their buying.

Paul Brindley




Crowded LA Market Schedule Draws Major Retailers and Specialty Stores

Buyers ranging from major retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus andNordstrom to key specialty stores and e-tailers such as ShopBop, Ron Herman, Fred Segal and Beckley turned out for the recent run of Los Angeles Fashion Market, which was spread across multiple showroom buildings and several returning and new trade shows.

In addition to the central showroom buildings—the California Market Center, The New Mart, the Cooper Design Space, the Gerry Building and the Lady Liberty Building—buyers also had several other trade shows to shop, including Designers and Agents, Select, Brand Assembly, Coeur, LA Men’s Market and Lazr, as well as new activewear show LA Active.

Exhibitors reported upbeat buyers looking for everything from Immediate deliveries to Spring ’15 goods.

This season, market dates remained split with the CMC and Gerry (as well as a handful of showrooms in the other buildings) opening on Sunday, Oct. 12. The New Mart, Cooper, Lady Liberty and the temporary trade shows opened on Monday, Oct. 13.

At CMC, boutiques are ‘bread and butter’

If the LA Majors Market, which ran Oct. 6–8, is about writing big orders with department stores, the boutique and specialty-oriented Los Angeles Fashion Market still represents the “bread and butter” business of the Betty Bottom Showroom in the California Market Center, said Rosanne Tritica, co-owner of the showroom. “We need both to survive,” she said.

Betty Bottom’s showroom calendar was packed with appointments with boutiques starting on Sunday through Tuesday. Traffic started tapering off on Wednesday, Tritica said.

Traffic was big, said Ernesto Mantilla, Betty Bottom’s co-owner and Tritica’s husband. “We’re close to the end of the year,” Mantilla said. “Stores are getting ready for a good Holiday season.”

But buying habits for small stores have changed in the past decade. Many stores aim to buy close to season, and it has changed the nature of the LA Fashion Markets. In the 1980s and 1990s, the October market was only for ordering Spring merchandise. But in the past few years, the January LA Fashion Market has increased in importance for Spring merchandise because so many boutiques aim to order Immediates, Tritica said.

Immediates were important for the recent LA Fashion Market, and Betty Bottom’s clients aim to service that demand. The showroom’s clients—Moonlight, headquartered in Los Angeles, and Dzhavael Couture, which is based in New York—make December merchandise deliveries, which are just in time for the holiday season.

Retail traffic was good for the Mystree showroom, said Jerry Wexler, a sales representative for young contemporary line Mystree. Business was about even with the October LA Fashion Market of 2013, Wexler said.

Don Reichman of Reichman Associates noted that the general mood of boutique owners seemed more bullish than in other markets this year. “I hope it reflects on our business and they buy more,” he said.

Business was good at the T&A women’s showroom on the fifth-floor contemporary wing of the CMC, but the traffic was not as good as the T&A men’s showroom, which participated in LA Men’s Market, which ran Oct. 13–14 on CMC’s Area 4 section, said Alfred Davis, a co-owner of the showroom.

The men’s showroom worked with more than 80 buyers, and the women’s market worked with more than 25 buyers, Davis said. “Women’s [business] typically does better than men’s,” he said. But his men’s showroom enjoyed more traffic because of the big marketing and sponsorship effort behind LAMM, he said. There was catered food and drinks at the men’s show, as well as parties in the evening.

Majors vs. specialty stores at The New Mart

Retail traffic increased more than 7 percent at The New Mart over last October, said Ethan Eller, the showroom building’s general manager.

Lynn Girard of the Lynn Girard Showroom reported a LA Fashion Market packed with appointments. Sometimes there were not enough stations at her showroom to seat all of the appointments, she noted. Girard and the other showrooms on the 12th floor pooled resources to offer buyers margaritas, taquitos and churros during market.

Although most showroom owners generally agreed that the business at market was good, several also noted that business overall seems to be changing.

For Eme Mizioch, the owner of the Joken Style showroom, the best business was at the recent LA Majors Market. “We killed it with the Majors,” Mizioch said. For the specialty and boutique-focused Fashion Market, every dollar was harder to earn, she said.

“[Boutiques] are so focused on Immediates that it’s hard to go to production. How do you know your projections if you don’t know how many people will be ordering or what they will order?” Mizioch said.

Jackie Bartolo, owner of the Jackie B showroom, also noted that the majors business has been very good. Majors make bigger buys, and they help build production offers for manufacturers. However, specialty and boutique retail is crucial, she said. During the LA Fashion Market, Bartolo worked with e-commerce retailer Le Tote, Sloan Boutique of Portland, Ore.; Hailee Grace of Denver; Soto, a Los Angeles boutique chain with seven locations; and Ambiance San Francisco.

“Boutiques are being more careful with buys as far as categories,” Bartolo said. “They’re going to write the orders, but they’re making sure that they not doubling ordering and buying the same thing from different companies.”


Costume National at the Cooper Design Space

Buzzing at Cooper

Increased traffic and Immediate orders were reported throughout Los Angeles Fashion Market at the Cooper Design Space. “We’re having a very good, very busy market,” said Marilyn Rodriguez, owner of Room Showroom, which was open Monday through Wednesday. “We work mostly on appointment, and this year is definitely better than last October.” Room houses such brands as Aquaverde, Amanda Shi, Carmella,Kes and Toupy. Rodriguez met with Elyse Walker,Satine, Shopbop and Revolve Clothing.

Marisa Bergman, West Coast director of Showroom Seven Los Angeles, also reported having a “great” market.

“We are much happier about the dates this market than in August, when we overlapped with New York, which was a disaster,” said Lauren Bryant, sales director of Agency Showroom. “This market has been great for us. We’ve seen Nasty Gal, Revolve Clothing, Hautelook, Anthropologie and Swell.”

Orders were split between Immediates or in-season orders and Spring ’15 goods.

Brand Equity Showroom saw “good, steady traffic. There has been a lot of excitement around Costume National this market,” said showroom owner Brian Stark. “Many of our buyers have been focused on Immediate styles this week.”

Stark had appointments booked Monday through Friday. “Weekends never work for us,” he said. “We see our accounts during the week.”

Scotch & Soda and Maison Scotch, which both follow European selling dates, had already closed their selling season. Still, the sister brands saw an increase in Immediates and reorders, said West Coast sales manager Kate Wazdatskey. Monday was very busy, Wazdatskey added. “We met with a lot of new accounts this market,” she said.

Jennifer Mohlar, owner of HM Showroom, said she was pleased with market, adding that Revolve Clothing, Diane’s and Fred Segalwere amongthe retailers who stopped by the showroom.

“We have been very busy this week with steady traffic, seeing lots of specialty boutiques,” she said. HM Showroom represents brands Malia Jones, Vintage Havana,Sticky Eyewear and Bettinis Bikinis, plus others, and also runs a showroom in Santa Monica, Calif.

Early start at Gerry

The showroom owners and representatives at the Gerry Building were happy with the turnout at Los Angeles Fashion Market.

“This has been a great market for us,” said Nina Perez, owner of the Nina Perez Showroom. “We have been very busy, and our buyers are all happy and upbeat.”

Market opened on Sunday, Oct. 12, the day before some of the other showroom buildings and temporary trade shows opened.

“Sundays are essential for us; buyers need that extra day,” said Perez, who represents brands Nic + Zoe, Evangeline Bags and Niche. The showroom owner, who shares space with Julie Walls, said she had appointments and walk-ins from retailers from Canada, the Northwest U.S. and the Midwest. “This has been an exciting market,” she said.

Brian Cahill, sales manager for JordanLouis,came from New York to show for the first time at Los Angeles Fashion Market. “LA has a very different lifestyle and culture, and JordanLouis has so far been well received,” he said, adding that he met with buyers from Fred Segal, Nordstrom, PE 101 and Bleu.

Sharing the space with JordanLouis, Jerry Chen of Zero Degree Celsius also recently moved from New York to Los Angeles and was pleased with market.

“We moved here three months ago and are really happy,” Chen said. “Sunday was surprisingly really busy, Monday was slow, but Tuesday traffic picked up again. We like this building because the spaces feel creative, not so corporate, and they are large and open.”

Benjamin Zoldan of the Joseph Ribkoff Showroom echoed others from the building, reporting a solid market. “All our appointments have shown, and we have had a few really great random walk-ins,” he said. “We are very pleased with the turnout.”


Trunk at the Mary Joya Showroom at the Lady Liberty Building

Traffic up at Lady Liberty

At the Lady Liberty Building, Mary Joya, owner of the Mary Joya Showroom, was pleased with the turnout at Los Angeles Fashion Market.

“Our traffic has been up roughly 20 percent from last October Market,” she said.

Joya—who represents Artisan De Luxe, Trunk, Chrldrand Free People—moved to the Lady Liberty Building from The New Mart in May.

“This October has been very busy,” she said. “We opened on Sunday, which really paid off, and are booked with appointments through Thursday. We have booked more appointments this market and spread them out over more time, giving us quality time with each. It has helped tremendously, spending more one-on-one time with our accounts.”

Some of the retailers Joya saw include Bloomingdale’s, ShopBop, Ron Herman, Fred Segal and a handful of Japanese accounts.

Joey Showroom Sales Director Deva Braakensiek also reported having a “very good market with ongoing steady traffic,” with an even balance of appointments and walk-ins.

The showroom, which shares space with ONE Showroom and Majestic, also recently moved to the Lady Liberty building from the Cooper.

“We are very happy over here,” Braakensiek said. “There is a nice, relaxed environment and sense of community.”


Designers at Agents at The New Mart

Full house at D&A

The Oct. 13–15 run of the Designers and Agents show featured more than 100 brands and showrooms filling the fashion theater space on the third floor of The New Mart and drawing a steady stream of buyer traffic throughout the three-day show.

Nina Frank, the sales executive and sales manager at New York–based Minnie Rose, was pleased with the turnout at the show.

“I was expecting it to be this busy,” Frank said. “Minnie Rose always does amazing in California.”

Frank said she appreciated the quality of the stores shopping the show, which included higher-end better stores from across the Western U.S., she said.

Many of the buyers were upbeat and “not cautious at all,” Frank said, adding that the collection is selling at retail, which helps encourage the buyers to place new orders.

“They know it’s going to sell, and they are willing to put down dollars,” she said.

Robyn Kessel of San Francisco–based Keena was showing at D&A for the second time with apparel brands Neeru Kumar from India and Elk from Australia as well as accessories lines Petal handbags, Paro scarves and Fetch, a new eyewear company by tile designer Ann Sacks.

“We’re primarily in the gift industry, but we’ve been working with a couple of apparel brands for the last couple of seasons,” Kessel said. “All our lines have some sort of social responsibility or vertical manufacturing with a history of good practices. They sit in apparel stores and lifestyle boutiques and museum shops.”

Elk and Neeru both have strong followings internationally, Kessel said. Elk does well in in Australia, and Neeru Kumar does well in India, France and Japan. But both have an aesthetic that is in line with the West Coast,” Kessel said.

At the Keena booth at D&A, Kessel said, she primarily saw buyers from stores located west of the Rocky Mountains, including many retailers the company already knows, “which is surprising because we’re so steeped in gift.”

Longtime D&A exhibitor Kim White, who designs Los Angeles–based Kim White Handbags, was also pleased with the turnout at the show.

“I’ve had a great market,” she said, adding that she landed orders from as far east as Chicago.

Ed Mandelbaum, co-founder of the show, was equally enthusiastic.

“We’ve had good energy,” he said. “The room is filled. We really feel great about going off into the Holiday season.”


An art installation in front of LA Men’s Market’s Insight space

LA Men’s Market: Good biz at year 1

LA Men’s Market started in 2013 as an attempt to build a higher marquee for men’s styles at the March and October LA Fashion Markets. During its first-anniversary run on Oct. 13–14, mostly at the Area 4 section of the California Market Center, vendors reported good business and a desire to participate in future LAMM shows.

Pacific Sunwear and Forever 21 reportedly visited the show, which was formerly called LA Men’s Market Initiative. Also in attendance were boutiques such as LASC of West Hollywood, Calif.; Fred Segal Conveyor of Santa Monica, Calif.; ADBD of Los Angeles; and e-commerce brand Revolve Clothing as well as representatives from Japanese-headquartered retail distributors.

Kellen Roland, a producer of LAMM and president of  The Ntwrk Agency showroom, which participated in the market, said 120 brands participated at the show, including 60 brands that do not permanently exhibit at the CMC. Brands exhibiting at LAMM included Obey, Nixon, Billionaire Boys Club, Black Scvle, Crooks & Castles, Wellen,Katin, Desigual, Don’t Care, G-Shock, Goorin Brothers, SLVDR, Insight, Hyden Yoo and Jachs. Fees for a table at the Area 4 temporary showrooms were under $700. The Park Showroom at the Lady Liberty building and The Foundation at the Cooper Design Space also participated in LAMM.

Breakfasts were provided by show sponsors Egg Slut, and vendors and retailers also got to drink Stumptown coffee and cold pressed juices by Juice Served Here. Another sponsor was Boxed Water. But the atmosphere was business-like, said Mars Collins, who did sales for Black Scvle. “It was about business,” he said of LAMM. “It’s easy to get writing done here.”

Adam Derry, chief executive officer and founder of ADBD, made an order for K-Way, the outerwear company represented by the Flagship Agency. He commended the market for being easy to navigate and bringing in a lot of brands that do not typically exhibit at the CMC. “It has a potential for being a building block for rebuilding the LA Market,” he said of LA Fashion Market, which, he contended, needs to attract more buyers.

Timothy J. Padilla, co-owner of the T&A Showroom in Area 4, said his men’s showroom saw more than 40 accounts on the first day of the show for its Spring/Summer collections, such as Desigual and Pocket Square Clothing. “It’s the largest event in Los Angeles,” Padilla said of the men’s trade shows.

There was some grumbling that buyers viewed collections at the show’s entrance, and many would not venture toward the back of Area 4. However, Chris Josol, partner in the Flagship Agency, said he had 20 meetings Monday at his company’s temporary showroom in the back.

Adam Ahdoot, a brand manager for Flagship, said much of the orders were for Immediate merchandise. “It’s between seasons,” he said. “For most of our brands, ordering deadlines have passed.”


Merci Borden, of Merci Marie handbags, at Select at the California Market Center

Select gets bigger

It was a time of growth for the Select premium and contemporary brands show, which took place at the California Market Center’s Fashion Theater Oct. 13–15. Brittany Carr, the show’s director, said exhibitors increased 30 percent compared with the same time the previous year.

Show producers opened the stage area of the theater to provide additional exhibition space for jewelry vendors. Select welcomed back show veterans Beagle House NYGillian Julius and Streets Ahead. Studio City, Calif.–based handbags vendor Merci Marie returned to the show after a brief hiatus. Singapore-based designers Melchor Guinto and Charles Cua made their Select debuts. They shared a booth with Pia Gladys Perey, a Manila-based designer. The trio’s styles were featured in the International Fashion Tour runway show in the CMC lobby on Oct. 13.

Nicolette Beckett of the West Hollywood, Calif.–based Gillian Julius reported Select’s traffic started off strong on the first day of the show but gradually tapered off into a steady pace. She said an estimated 30 percent of the retailers that she met were e-commerce retailers, which was the highest percentage of e-tailers the company had ever seen at the show.

Yukiko Kawabata, owner of the Brooklyn, N.Y.–based Beagle House NY, estimated that traffic declined at the show, perhaps by 20 percent. She exhibited Beagle House NY’s branded scarves and hats. She mostly saw boutique retailers such as Fred Segal; Lily from Santa Barbara, Calif.; Filoni from Chicago; and Badu of Carefree, Ariz.


Bash jewelry at Coeur at the Cooper Design Space

Coeur’s lifestyle mix

The Oct. 13–15 run of the Coeur trade show at the Cooper Design Space drew a mix of boutiques, online stores and fine-jewelry stores, which is exactly the target retailer Misa Hamamoto, designer of the Misa Jewelry collection in Los Angeles, was looking to meet.

Hamamoto has been showing at Coeur since 2012. Her hand-sculpted jewelry is “inspired by elements of nature like tropical coral or tree roots.” Made from 14-kt. gold, silver and vermeil and wholesale priced from $50 to $1,600, the line has a “price point for everyone,” Hamamoto said.

The designer said she has seen a shift in buyers’ mood in the last season. “It’s really picked up,” she said. “Buyers aren’t as cautious—they’re having fun again. They are trying the higher-end [pieces]. Even the stores that stock the silver and vermeil, they’re trying the 14-kt. gold.”

Santa Fe, N.M.–based Bash was showing at the Los Angeles Coeur show for the first time, said designer and owner Katy B. Ashmann.

Although Ashmann has had her line for about six years, she recently revamped the collection of architectural jewelry.

Wholesale priced from $100 to $1,400 for fine-jewelry pieces, Ashmann’s collection is made from locally sourced materials and inspired by her Santa Fe surroundings. Recently, the designer has been experimenting with different clasps and closures for her pieces. One cuff-style bracelet features a tension snap clasp, a minimalist rectangular bangle has a latch closure, and a lariat-style necklace is designed to lock in place.

Ashmann also showed at Coeur in New York. Ashmann said she was hoping for a little better traffic at the Los Angeles show but still met several retailers and stylists and landed “a few nice orders.”

Most of Coeur’s exhibitors were showing jewelry and accessories, but the show also has footwear, home décor and apparel lines.

“The focus is on lifestyle,” said Henri Myers, co-founder of the show. “We’re not going to be all ready-to-wear and high design. We’re bringing something more special and catered.”

This was the fourth time at Coeur for Kerry Cassill, the Laguna Beach, Calif.–based lifestyle collection of apparel and home goods made from textiles that are block printed by hand in India.

Nicole Cernich, who represents the company’s apparel collection, and Betsy Mackel, who handles the home merchandise, said the buyer turnout at Coeur was better for the brand’s apparel.

On the second day of the show, Anita Arze was staffing the booth for three Spanish footwear brands, Coclico, Chie Mihara and P. Monjo.

“We’ve been busy,” she said. “The afternoon was swamped! It was one after the other after the other!”


Brand Assembly at the Cooper Design Space

High-end retail at Brand Assembly

The Oct. 13–15 run of Brand Assembly at the Cooper Design Space drew buyers from Shopbop, Scoop, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Satine, Beckley, Dreslyn,Heist, Elyse Walker and Guild to shop the show’s offerings of contemporary apparel and accessories.

This season, organizers reworked the layout to give the show a more-open floor plan and added an emerging-designer section.

That is where Justin Wen was showing the Fala collection, designed by his wife, Fala Chien. The company is in its second season since moving to Irvine, Calif., and this was the line’s first time at Brand Assembly.

“We did really well,” Wen said. “We were able to meet a lot of buyers who we wouldn’t have been able to meet at other shows. We do ENKVegas and Coterie, [but] it’s hard to meet selected buyers at the bigger shows. This show is so intimate, and the buyers have time to look at the lines.”

This was the first time at Brand Assembly for Dawn Mayo, who was showing her two New York–based boho-inspired brands, Chelsea Flower and Love Sam.

“I had a great show,” Mayo said, adding that she didn’t have a Los Angeles rep and needed to show in a busy environment. “I saw all the best stores—Neiman Marcus, Ron Herman, Fred Segal, Satine.”

Returning exhibitor Black Halo was busy during the three-day show with buyers responding especially well to some of the bright pieces in the line, as well as two-piece dressing, said Senior Account Executive Megan Flynn.

Flynn said she met with some new stores but primarily worked with existing accounts at Brand Assembly. Most retailers were on the hunt for something new and unique, she said.

“Everybody knows they have to differentiate themselves and offer something unique to draw customers in and give them a reason to buy,” she said.

According to co-organizer Hillary France, about 70 percent of the exhibitors at the show were returning from the previous show in June. France said exhibitors reported increased interest from buyers in shopping the LA Market, particularly because LA’s dates fall toward the end of the season.

“All brands I talk to said people want to come to LA and they want to buy later in the season,” she said.


The Lazr trade show featured footwear, accessories and apparel at a new second-floor space on the corner of 9th and Los Angeles Streets

Lazr bows in new LA Fashion District location

The Lazr trade show has a new location in the Los Angeles Fashion District. After testing the waters at LA Live, the Cooper Design Space and The New Mart, the footwear show moved to a lofty second-floor space on the corner of Los Angeles and Ninth streets.

The Oct. 13–15 run of the show featured more than 20 brands showing higher-end footwear, apparel and accessories. This marks the second season the show has run concurrently with Los Angeles Fashion Market, and the timing seemed to be a hit with exhibitors.

Mike Berkis, brand director for was Consolidated Shoe Co., represents the NicoleDimmi, Poetik License and OTBT brands. Berkis has been showing at Lazr since the first shows. He said this season was the best show so far.

“We had a lot of better-quality buyers coming through, and we wrote business,” he said. “Every show off market has been difficult.”

Berkis gave Lazr high marks for the new location and said the next challenge is to increase the foot traffic at the show. But, he added, like any show, it’s up to the brands to do their homework and schedule appointments with buyers.

“For me the goal is to have a great location during market,” he said, adding that he liked the addition of clothing and jewelry brands. “Everything mixed makes for a better show,” he said.

Show organizer John Ruffo continued his strategy of offering a direct-to-consumer component to the show. This season, Lazr’s retail section was one flight below the trade show at Vertigo, the boutique on the ground floor of the building. Lazr also partnered with Fashion Business Inc., which organized a runway show at Vertigo on the last day of the trade show.


LA Active Show at the Gerry Building

LA Active show debuts at Gerry

New contemporary activewear trade show LA Active, organized by industry veteran Juliyn Taylor, debuted with a soft opening at Los Angeles Fashion Market on the fifth floor of the Gerry Building.

“We are providing buyers with one destination in Los Angeles to see contemporary activewear,” Taylor said. “Buyers and activewear companies have shown a lot of excitement and support.”

Exhibitor Rosalie Davies represents Nux, an activewear line based and produced in LA.

“We like the idea of a one-stop-shop show in LA,” Davies said. “Our accounts have given a positive reception, and we have had a couple awesome walk-ins.”

The Gerry Building’s light, airy showroom spaces made for a nice alternative to the typical trade show–booth setting, Taylor said.

“Brands are able to spread out yet still be in one place, making it more convenient for our buyers. The responses have been overwhelming.”

For its “test season,” LA Active showcased a hand-selected group of contemporary active brands, including L*Space, Jet Setter, Frankie’s Bikinis, Lenny, Lisa Lozano,Rose Blue, Rese Active, Prismsport, Karma, Minka Binx, Juju Jams, Zobha, La Vie, Nux and Cozy Orange.

“Although we have not had a ton of foot traffic, we did meet various boutiques, online retailers, and health clubs and spas,” said Dalma Pszotka, sales representative for Cozy Orange, an eco-friendly active brand from San Diego. “We are excited about a show located in LA that has crossover traffic and look forward to being a part of it and watching it grow.”

Crossover traffic is also key for Nux, Davies said.

“We have seen a recent increase in business due to crossover traffic,” she said. “Boutiques are seeking out activewear as much as yoga studios are, and gyms are looking to offer creative mixes of merchandise for their clients.”

Taylor plans LA Active to run five times annually, concurrent with LA Fashion Market. The show will officially launch in January.


Gutai Showroom at Henry Duarte’s studio

Buzz building for independent showcase at Duarte studio

The independent designer showcase at Henry Duarte’s studio is building a following of better retailers looking for one-of-a-kind, artisan apparel and accessories in a curated environment.

Tentatively called Gutai Showroom, after the 1950s art movement, this season’s designers included Beth Orduña; Danielle Welmond; Jaga Buyan, designer of the Jaga and Duuya collections; Calleen Cordero; Peter Cohen; Fisher Karlsson; and William Beranek’s pant line, Hung on You.

“It was a nice outcome,” Welmond said, adding that the stores that came were a mix of retailers she knew and some who stopped by after shopping the other shows at LA Market. “They’re curious.”

“Gutai” is the Japanese word for “embodiment,” and mid-century artists such as Jiro Yoshihara and Shozo Shimamoto drew their inspiration from the materials they used.

Before the show, Orduña worked with Duarte to reconfigure the space to let buyers better navigate the two-story studio. Orduña, Welmond and Buyan are part of the original group showing at the studio. Each season, they invite another designer to join the mix.

“It’s evolving,” Orduña said. “Every market we experiment with the chemistry of working with different designers.”

When the showcase first began, the designers had some downtime to relax and talk about their work. But this season, that changed as retailers from stores such as Savannah in Santa Monica, Calif., stopped by to review the collections during the four-day show.

“We were slammed,” Orduña said.

Some retailers came for the opening-night cocktail party on Oct. 15 and kept working past the show’s planned 5 p.m. closing time.

“That’s the spirit of Gutai,” Orduña said. “It’s not rigid; it’s not 9 to 5.”

Duarte’s studio is located on Los Angeles Street, two blocks north of the main showroom buildings.

Orduña said she can envision some room to expand Gutai Showroom’s offerings.

“It would be great to have a small, amazing leather-goods collection,” she said.

But the space in Duarte’s studio is limited, which is how the designers like it.

“Part of why it’s so good is because it’s small,” Orduña said. λ

Posted by Paul Brindley
on October 08, 2014

Apparel News: MAGIC Marketplace producer, Advanstar Sold for $972 Million

Following is a re-post of an article in Apparel News last week.

Advanstar, the owner and producer of the bi-annual MAGIC Marketplace trade show madness has been sold to a UK media and events company, UBM PLC.

My first MAGIC was in August 2000 when it was at the Sands Expo and was the only show in town. I have been going twice a year for many years. It is going to be very, very interesting to see how this affects the look, feel and organization of the trade show experience.

I have to disagree with the highly respected Ilse Metchek of the California Fashion Association that “bigger is better” is not always better. I believe the opposite can be true. A case in point is the fate of the ENK Vegas trade show. Until 2 years ago, ENK was a stand alone show held at the Wynn that provided an upscale, curated experience for buyers away from the sturm and drang of the MAGIC madness.

ENK Vegas always put on classy, professional and well-appointed trade shows. Some veterans of Intermezzos and Coteries in New York that I know think that Vegas was their best show. ENK did that bit extra – from the setting and layout, to the quality of complimentary buffet lunches provided for buyers, right down to the adult beverages that were stewarded around at the end of the day.

Contemporary and better contemporary men’s and women’s sportswear collections, denim, dresses, accessories and footwear brands were spread over two adjacent function rooms. There were more usually men’s than women’s collections. There was an excellent vibe with buyers actually writing orders and leaving paper – something that has become a rarer outcome.

Advanstar bought ENK and folded the show into Project at the Mandalay Bay as their women’s showcase. It is now enormous and, I think, unwieldy. It is certainly not the experience it once was.

I agree with Jason Bates of Derelicte showroom that the ownership change could bring an influx of international buyers. This can only be good.

Jason mentions the Liberty show at the Venetian. He is right on the money about Liberty being the place to be. Will UBC recognize the gap opening up between Liberty and Project/ENK experiences?

As for the MAGIC show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I spend less and less time there. To me, MAGIC is not the place to look for contemporary labels. You can cover all your contemporary women’s needs at ENK Vegas.

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults



Advanstar Sold for $972 Million

Advanstar Communications Inc., producer of the biannual MAGIC Marketplace trade shows in Las Vegas, the biggest apparel trade show in North America, announced on Oct. 1 that it will be acquired for $972 million by London-based media company and events producer UBM PLC, which owns PR Newswire, a prominent outlet that distributes press releases.

Advanstar, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., forecasted that the deal would close by the end of the year, depending on if UBM stockholders approve the deal. Joe Loggia, Advanstar’s chief executive officer, confirmed that he would remain at Advanstar for a transitional period after the deal closes. Along with acquiring MAGIC, UBM also picked up Advanstar’s New York shows, such as Coterie; Advanstar’s pharmaceutical trade shows, which are produced by its CBI Group division; and digital properties such as MAGIC’s Shopthefloor.com.

The deal would make an already big show become even bigger, Loggia said. “With greater scale across key international geographies, the combined company will be strongly positioned to continue expanding into dynamic, vertical markets. Together with UBM, we will be a global leader with a well-established portfolio of highly regarded trade shows, attracting exhibitors and retailers from all over the world and providing enhanced opportunities for customers to share insights, build critical connections and drive commerce,” he said in a prepared statement.

Tim Cobbold, UBM’s CEO, noted that the acquisition will give his company access to the U.S. fashion industry, which he described as a “new vertical for UBM.”

“[The acquisition] strengthens UBM’s core events business while balancing and complementing UBM’s strong events portfolio in emerging markets. UBM will become the largest events organizer in the U.S.,” Cobbold said in a statement.

Serving as financial advisers to Advanstar in this deal were Goldman Sachs & Co. and Moelis & Co. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Slaughter and May provided legal counsel. J.P. Morgan Cazenove worked as the financial adviser to UBM, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP served as its legal adviser.

The news that Advanstar might become part of an international business could create a path toward more opportunity for manufacturers, said Ilse Metchek, president of the  California Fashion Association, a Los Angeles–based trade group.

“American manufacturers’ participation in world trade shows is sadly lacking,” Metchek said. “The ability to grow and reach more markets is truly a win.”

A bigger player on the trade show business might also make for a more compelling trade show experience, Metchek said. “Bigger means it is a must see,” she said. She also noted that trade shows remain a crucial part of the fashion industry. It is where a great majority of manufacturers go to exhibit and where retailers might find brands not on anyone’s radar screen and may help them gain an edge.

The sale might foster a change in the family of MAGIC Marketplace shows, which include Project, said Jason Bates of the Derelicte showroom. He is a veteran exhibitor at Project and other high-profile trade shows. “Ideally, this merger will bring more European retailers to the U.S. market, so American brands will not be so reliant on fledgling U.S. retailers. I would be really excited to see a solid effort to bring more international buyers into the fold.”

Bates also hoped that it could inspire change with how the MAGIC Marketplace is managed.

“[MAGIC] has been losing ground for the past several seasons, and there have been other shows doing a much better job—primarily, the Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs in the U.S. are hands down the show to look at in terms of quality on all fronts,” he said.

Diane Merrick, owner of the pioneering self-named boutique Diane Merrick in Los Angeles, has been going to MAGIC Marketplace shows since the 1970s. She said MAGIC remains a vital part of the fashion business.

“MAGIC is unbelievable,” Merrick said. “I never have enough time there. I love the energy. There’s a lot of color.” She goes twice a year to the Las Vegas shows to see what fashions are trending and where the market is heading.

Posted by Paul Brindley
on July 10, 2014

Apparel News – July 10, 2014: Economy on Strong Footing to Grow, But Apparel Sales Challenged

This is some interesting data from Apparel News.

Unfortunately, demand for non-durable goods is still lagging. Fashion retail will continue to struggle until we see an uptick in household disposable incomes.



Economy on Strong Footing to Grow, But Apparel Sales Challenged


For once, economists are in agreement. The financial outlook for California and the rest of the nation is bright for the rest of the year.

After severe cold weather in the rest of the country froze economic activity this winter, consumers and businesses have been making up for lost time.

“We wrote off the first quarter,” said Esmael Adibi, director for the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research atChapman University in Orange, Calif. “But we think the second, third and fourth quarters should be relatively strong.”

The International Monetary Fund recently revised its estimate for economic growth in the United States, saying the weak first quarter means the country’s gross domestic product will rise 2 percent this year rather than the 2.8 percent it predicted earlier.

A growing economy means that hiring has been robust across the country and in California. The unemployment rate has been dropping steadily as employers add more workers. With more people in the workforce, there is more money to spend on clothing, cars and other consumer items, economists noted.

Adibi predicted that California’s retail sales should grow by about 6 percent this year after rising 7 percent in 2013, 7.3 percent in 2012 and 8.8 percent in 2011. Right after the recession ended in the summer of 2009, there was a flurry of spending because of pent-up demand.

On the employment front, California has been creating jobs faster than the rest of the nation. A lot of those jobs have been in technology, but construction is catching up, too. Between January 2013 and April 2014, construction job growth made up 12 percent of all new payroll jobs in California.

“The state and Los Angeles County have been adding wage and farm jobs at a faster clip than the nation,’ said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “In Southern California, just about every industry has been adding jobs on a consistent basis.”

The two exceptions have been in non-durable goods manufacturing, which includes apparel and textiles as well as finance and insurance. “People aren’t refinancing as much, and consolidation is taking place in financial institutions,” Kleinhenz said.

Otherwise, there have been strong gains in healthcare, leisure and hospitality as well as professional and business services and retail. “We are looking at an economy that has performed well during the first half of the year, but wage growth has been very slight,” Kleinhenz noted.

That’s because many of the new jobs are entry-level positions that pay minimum wage or are at the top of the wage spectrum. Fewer jobs pay in the middle. “We might see some improvement in that later on,” Kleinhenz said.

California’s unemployment rate is still higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. But it has been coming down rapidly. In May, the state unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent, seasonally adjusted, compared with 9 percent the previous year.

Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate in May was a seasonally adjusted 8.2 percent compared with 10 percent last year.

The state should see total employment growth of 2.4 percent in 2015 and 2.1 percent in 2016.

Home front

Housing prices are making a slow comeback but still are not near their 2007 peak. From the beginning of 2013 to the beginning of 2014, Los Angeles home prices were risen 18 percent. San Francisco’s home prices were up 22.2 percent while in San Diego they inched up 19.4 percent.

While values are up, home sale numbers are lackluster. In a recent UCLA Anderson Forecast, senior UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg noted that home sales have been soft because banks have fewer foreclosed properties to sell. Still, home sales should return to normal levels as more people get back to the workforce or form new households, boosting new home construction and more inventory.

More homes sales translates into robust retail sales as new property owners snatch up new furniture, accessories and notions to fill their new abodes.

But retailers have been worried about challenging sales in clothing. For the first five months of this year, clothing and accessories stores saw sales inch up only 1.3 percent over last year to $95 billion, according to the U.S. Census. But department stores were struggling. From January to May, their sales, which did not include leased department, dipped 3.2 percent to $62.2 billion.

Clothing manufacturers have had to work harder to keep profits up. Levi Strauss & Co. recently reported its net revenue during the second quarter of this year was down 2 percent to $1.08 billion. Most of that came from a 3 percent slip in sales in the Americas.

“While we are encouraged by business improvements in Europe and Asia, ongoing traffic declined and an increasingly promotional environment continue to pressure our Americas regions,” said Chip Bergh, Levi’s president and chief executive, in a statement following the earnings report. “We will continue to focus on what’s within our control—from cost structure to conversion in our stores to engaging consumers with great product and innovation—in order to drive long-term profitable growth.”

Gap Inc., one of the largest specialty retailers in the United States, was also seeing soft sales. For its first quarter, ending May 3, its revenues were up only 1 percent to $3.77 billion. But its net income tumbled 21 percent to $260 million. The San Francisco–based company’s first-quarter same-store sales dipped 1 percent compared with a 2 percent increase for the first quarter of 2013.

Of its three stores, only Old Navy’s comparable-store sales were in positive territory, edging up 1 percent. The Gap stores saw a 5 percent decline in same-store sales during the first quarter while the Banana Republic chain of stores had a 1 percent decrease in same-store sales.