SAN DIEGO — After elevating the fashion in their lines to compete with — but then lose on price to — fast-fashion retailers, board-sport brands sought to differentiate themselves at ASR Trade Expo. They emphasized innovative fabrics, their strengths in surf and skate and a versatility that moves from the beach to the streets.
Several marquee names — Hurley, DC Shoes, Zoo York, Matix and Alpinestars, among others — did not exhibit at the three-day show that ended Saturday at the San Diego Convention Center, even though organizers reduced booth costs by 25 percent. The no-shows were partly a result of the expiration of the companies’ deadlines for spring orders well before the show’s start.
DC Shoes opted instead to unveil sleeveless fleece hoodies, striped terry cloth rompers and other spring looks during a private dinner attended by editors and retailers. “We’re trying to strategize more about how we spend money in this economy,” said a DC Shoes spokeswoman of the decision not to exhibit at ASR.
Buyers were realistic in assessing the prolonged impact of the recession.
“We sell as high-end as Prada, but guests are definitely looking at prices and value more now than ever,” said Pam Murphy, a buyer for Mammoth Mountain Resorts in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Fashion prevailed for Karen Meena, buyer for Los Angeles-based boutique Ron Robinson. “I’m seeing a lot more fashion-forward looks and beachy sophistication from the brands here, which is a welcome change from so much streetwear,” she said.
Samantha Schwartz, a buyer for Philadelphia’s Spaha Capital Management, which owns the Woodward Skate Parks chain in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Philadelphia, cited versatility as a key element in her buying strategy.
“We’re definitely looking for convertible stuff — things that can have multiple looks and purposes — so customers feel like they’re getting more for their money,” she said.
Vendors imposed changes of their own, lowering some prices and highlighting certain pieces that would contribute bigger profit margins to retailers’ bottom lines. In an effort to save money on production and inventory, several brands also reduced the number of offerings — in some cases by as much as half — with a focus on the bestsellers.
Quiksilver added a summer men’s collection to increase the number of seasons it services to four. The change allows retailers who prefer to buy closer to season to place orders four months — rather than five to six months — before deliveries are made.
“One of the big initiatives in the company is speed to market,” said Dave Rosenberger, Quiksilver’s national sales manager who oversees the young men’s business.
For some brands, the recession isn’t time to retrench. Vans, the skateboarding brand owned by VF Corp., plans to open 15 stores next year after launching 32 this year. “Brands that protect themselves open their own stores,” said Kevin Bailey, president of Van Americas. “It’s to control their own destiny.”
Some brands heeded retailers’ requests for fresh fashion to start new lines.
Billabong unveiled a higher-end swim grouping dubbed Billabong Runway Collection, inspired by the Hollywood runway event it hosts each year. Retailing for $88 to $122, compared with the core line’s swimsuits selling for about $80, Runway’s nine styles range from a lace monokini to a black denim bikini slashed on the sides.
Fox also widened the availability of its swimwear for next year after offering a test run at Pacific Sunwear of California Inc.’s stores last spring. Retailing from $79 to $84, the array of bikinis and monokinis highlights novel prints, such as purple metallic snakeskin.
Vans offered something new for both men and women. It collaborated with surfer Joel Tudor on a better-priced men’s capsule collection highlighting eco-friendly fabrics such as recycled polyester and organic cotton. And Vans added a youthful streak to $10 women’s sunglasses with aviator styles that flashed electric blue trim on the bridge and arms, along with Wayfarer styles available in teal and coral.
In both men’s and women’s sportswear, neon was excised from the palette. Bright tints such as turquoise, ocean blue, purple, red and yellow dominated, albeit in more subdued tones as if the clothes had been sitting in the sun.
In women’s sportswear, rompers and jumpsuits came out in full force, as seen in a long zippered version with asymmetric hems by Volcom. Stripes extended from Element Eden’s cotton-Spandex tube miniskirt to Lost’s high-waisted swim brief. Feminine touches abounded with bustier dresses at Lucy Love and ruffles that fluttered on Rastafarian-themed bikinis by Roxy. Reef, which unveiled its first swim collection produced under license by Raj Manufacturing, brought drama to the back of bikini tops with roping and skimpy strings connecting the neck strap to the main band.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye