By  on June 20, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Organizers of Los Angeles trade shows and markets are zeroing in on trends to give retailers a leg up on their competition.

With environmentalism a sizzling cause du jour, efforts to make local events green are picking up steam. And organizers are also working to capitalize on momentum in various fashion categories, including accessories, maternity and children's wear.

Barbara Kramer, co-producer of Designers & Agents, the contemporary apparel and lifestyle show that typically inhabits the New Mart and Cooper Design Space for holiday, resort and spring offerings, believes in leading by example. D&A, with help from Fiji Water, placed recycling stations throughout the June 8 to 10 show in the New Mart.

"People stop and pause before they throw away their garbage and ask are they doing the right thing," said Kramer. "These [ecological initiatives] are something we are committed to for the long haul."

Exposing buyers to sustainable resources is also part of D&A's green campaign. Green leaf seals are given to brands that demonstrate commitment to the environment and whose products are made up of at least 25 percent sustainable materials.

"We turned away a lot of people because it can't be just that you are using bamboo. It has to be more than jumping on the bandwagon," said Kramer. "We can taste if someone is committed to the cause."

At the Los Angeles show in June, D&A awarded 13 brands dedicated to the environment free exhibition space in a set-aside green room. Kramer estimated D&A would have made approximately $50,000 if it charged for the space, but insisted highlighting the environment was more important than the money. D&A is still deciding whether to include set-aside green areas in future shows.

Deborah Burnes, head formulator and chief executive officer of earth-friendly skin care brand Sumbody, based in Sebastopol, Calif., decided to bring wares to D&A after she was given a slot in the green room. She added that D&A vetted her salt scrubs and face creams before determining she was eligible for the room."My gut reaction five years ago would have been absolutely not, we want to be mainstream," said Burnes of being distinguished at D&A as a green brand. "But now it is so hot that it could be a benefit. People might come into the green room to look at the product."

D&A is not the only trade show bolstering its environmental credentials. Brighte Cos., the women's wear, accessories and footwear trade show that will run at the California Market Center Aug. 10 to 13 and Oct. 26 to 29, concurrent with the holiday/resort and spring market weeks, is pushing to include more green resources in its vendor repertoire.

"There has been a lot more interest recently in eco-friendly fabrics. We are looking in the market in general to find more companies that are doing that," said a spokesman for ENK International, the organizer of Brighte. In addition, Brighte is planning to offer seminars for vendors and buyers interested in greening their businesses.

Brighte hasn't had a problem attracting vendors to its Los Angeles shows, which the spokesman said are repeatedly sold out, although he wouldn't disclose how many vendors or retail buyers attend. "The show is at capacity," he said. "It is a great way for designers who don't have a presence in the West Coast market to reach out."

At D&A, Kramer said there are more vendor applicants than the show can possibly honor and buyer traffic has held steady. About 115 lines exhibited at D&A in June, a smaller midseason show, and between 1,500 and 2,500 buyers visited. "I think traffic will be at least the same as last year if not better," Kramer said of the shows in the second half of this year.

Newcomer MOM2B, a trade show aimed at retailers of maternity and baby goods, is holding its sophomore event from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 at the Cooper Design Space. Amy DeCamillis, president of MOM2B, estimated 600 to 800 buyers and 125 exhibitors would attend the show, a nearly 25 percent increase from the number of exhibitors that attended the first event in January.

"This show, we really made a concerted effort toward the international market with exhibitors and buyers," said DeCamillis. She named apparel lines Uzazi from India as well as SARA and Menonove, both from Italy, as members of the international contingent of exhibitors.To reach more buyers, MOM2B has beefed up its marketing budget by 750 percent over January's. The money is going toward monthly mailings, e-mail blasts, promotions and pregnancy publications. A fashion show will take place earlier each day, instead of at the end of the day when buyers are tired.

DeCamillis said maternity and baby vendors are creating inventive products that can help retailers draw novelty customers. For example, she mentioned Not Showing, a T-shirt line for adopted babies and adoptive parents-to-be. "Pregnant on Paper" and "Expecting From China" are slogans used on Not Showing shirts.

DeCamillis also noted some maternity and baby trends keep building. She pointed out that mainstream fashion is still being translated into maternity- and babywear. Among resources at MOM2B catering to this trend are Baby Legs, which produces legwarmers for babies, and Maternité, which designs maternity clothes intended to make a woman feel sexy while pregnant.

Accessories is another hot category, and the CMC is leaping on the accessories wave with Transit L.A. Shoe Show and L.A. Jewelers Expo. The shoe show was expanded to three days, June 9 to 11, and will continue with a three-day schedule in the foreseeable future. Golden Triangle Shows, organizer of the L.A. Jewelers expo, has agreed to hold the event in the CMC's penthouse for the first time Jan. 18 to 20 next year. The following show will be in July, and the January and July expos coincide with the gift markets.

While the L.A. Jewelers Expo is bowing in Los Angeles, MOM2B is unsure if it will make the city its home next year. MOM2B's third trade show will be in Las Vegas, and DeCamillis is not certain where the show will land after that. "The spring show will always be in Vegas and the fall show will move around," she said.

D&A is sticking to L.A., but has shortened its shows, scheduled from Aug. 10 to 12 and Oct. 26 to 28, to three days instead of four. "We think fitting four days' worth of people into three days will make the environment more exciting," said Ed Mandelbaum, Kramer's fellow D&A producer. "When things are more exciting, it usually turns into more orders."

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