LAS VEGAS — Citing the slowed housing market and rising economic pressures on consumers, retailers and manufacturers at WWDMAGIC said Monday that they were adjusting strategies while searching for items that would strike an emotional chord with customers.
About 120,000 people from 80 countries scoured booths at the start of the four-day run of the MAGIC Marketplace trade extravaganza at the Las Vegas Convention Center, seeking merchandise that could be delivered immediately as well as for spring. Diversification and low prices were high on the agenda.
Andrew Hong, owner of specialty shop Four Square in Stockton, Calif., said the housing woes unevenly affected his customer base. Younger consumers without mortgage payments continued to spend, even as their parents held onto their dollars.
Overall business "is slow...the younger people have part-time jobs and a little cash," Hong said, as he looked for denim from junior brands like Makers of True Originals to satiate his teenage customers.
To cope with financial volatility, several stores augmented their strategies. In Buckeye, Ariz., for example, Ron Woods, general manager of a golf apparel store called Raven Verrado, said he hoped to boost business with the introduction of spa and resort gear. "Folks in our market are looking for casual, comfortable stuff to wear," he said, while eyeing organic cotton yoga clothes at Shiva Shakti's booth.
Fran Thompson, director of retail at ChampionsGate Golf Club in ChampionsGate, Fla., supplemented her golf-heavy assortment with outerwear such as jackets from Berek. She pointed out that the flashier the products, the more inclined European tourists would be to open their wallets. She was also benefiting from the excess inventory of outerwear vendors. "You get a better price," she said.
Even celebrity-endorsed lines weren't immune to pricing pressure. For holiday, Jessica Simpson's collection of handbags cut the top retail price to $108 from about $300 in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience that already buys the actress' line of shoes priced from $65 to $125. "Under $100, Middle America can afford the bag," said Larry Shriber, West Coast sales director for Jessica Simpson Handbags.
Price, style and salability were key to Dian Sousa, buyer for Shark's Grin, a shop specializing in beachwear and casual clothing in Morro Bay, Calif. Another increasingly important criterion was whether the product had a visceral impact on shoppers. "People have to want it," she said.
Steve Aoki held a presentation, a runway show and outdoor concert for his men's line Dim Mak. Here's a look from his spring 2018 collection, which was titled "Paradise Found." #wwdfashion #wwdmens (📷: George Chinsee)
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