LOS ANGELES — Manufacturers, retailers and designers tried to decipher the tea leaves for the keys to spring sales at the trade shows here this month as they sought to deal with rising production costs and a shaky economy.
During the three-day Los Angeles Majors Market focusing on the junior and missy segments, which ended Oct. 6, buyers arrived from stores such as Forever 21, Belk, TJ Maxx, Filene’s Basement, Stein Mart, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Maurices.
Buyers from department stores, trendy boutiques and online retailers, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kitson, Bluefly.com and Revolveclothing.com, came out in droves to scour trade shows and showrooms from Oct. 15 to 20 at the California Market Center, Cooper Design Space, Lady Liberty Building and New Mart for contemporary and young contemporary fashion. Coinciding with Los Angeles Fashion Week, the contemporary market also featured a runway presentation called First.LA, which was organized by Directives West to highlight emerging Los Angeles designers.
The impact of higher cotton pricing weighed on vendors and retailers. To cope with the costs, 4Whatitsworth Inc., a producer of moderate denim brands, including Tyte Jeans and Rewash Jeans in City of Commerce, Calif., bought 2 million yards worth of cotton, which it’s storing in its warehouse in China. That’s enough material to cover production through next April.
Retailers expect minor price changes at stores. Patti Simigran, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at the 757-unit Maurices chain, estimated prices would climb less than 5 percent. “Some vendors are holding price…they are going to absorb the [commodity] increases and others are passing it on,” she said.
It’s a gamble to pass on large price increases because stores and vendors are dealing with shoppers seeking value.
Cotton Express, a junior brand offering cotton maxidresses with crochet tops and military-style tunics retailing for less than $30, chose not to lift prices. “We’re just working on lower margins,” said Joy Breg, a sales representative.
Designers paid homage to the easy but sexy Seventies aesthetic made famous by high-end brand Chloé. Tara Subkoff proffered a $125 white lace romper for her contemporary line, Imitation, and Corey Lynn Calter did well with an $89 cream lace minidress with slit sleeves.
April Koza and Lauren Barnes, buyers for Cerritos, Calif.-based Revolveclothing.com, noticed all things Seventies, including high-rise and flared jeans, ditsy floral print tops, clogs, wedges and platforms, picking up for spring. “The look is very Penny Lane,” said Koza, referring to the character that Kate Hudson portrayed in the movie “Almost Famous.” Added Barnes of high-waisted styles, “I hope people grasp this. It’s such a flattering shape.”
Retailers also sought silk and leather at affordable price points.
Blain, a new contemporary line designed by Janine Blain, a former executive at retail merchandising and consulting firm Directives West, made a strong debut with its loose, drapey silk and cotton blouses, dresses and pull-on pants wholesaling from $36 to $66. Nordstrom Savvy was among the retailers that ordered the line debuting for spring.
Mason by Michelle Mason mixed leather with less expensive materials in an effort to keep costs down, such as a $210 minidress which integrated a leather top with a full skirt made of Tencel and cotton poplin.
While a neutral palette was ubiquitous, retailers gravitated toward bright colors for accents. Nathan Jenden’s cropped linen tuxedo blazer in a robin’s egg blue caught buyers’ eyes. Matty M. and Ai for Ai turned to coral to offset tan and navy, respectively.
NSF’s women’s line, which launched for fall, appealed to buyers who wanted comfort with $38 oversize Henleys with fitted arms. Los Angeles Majors Market
Mood: Retailers and apparel manufacturers reworked their game plan for spring after a lackluster back-to-school season and teenage girls’ lukewarm response to trends such as cargo pants.
Key Trends: A pale palette, white denim, floral prints, stripes, drapey fabrics, harem pants and arts-and-crafts-inspired lace and crochet.
Best in Show: Rewash Jeans, based in City of Commerce, Calif., offered white Capris retailing for $29.99 to $34.99 with removable pastel-tinted legwarmers. New York’s Vanilla Star presented a variety of $29.99 harem pants, including chambray drawstring versions. Almost Famous, from New York as well, displayed a cocoon-like shrug retailing for less than $30 with alternating stripes of lace jacquard and a solid knit. — K.T.L.T.
Designers & Agents Mood: Downsized from the boom times, the edition was condensed into one floor of the New Mart. Vendors reported steady traffic.
Key Trends: Easy pieces with handcrafted details such as braiding and lace panels; a basic spectrum of black, white and gray with pops of coral.
Best in Show: San Francisco’s M.O.L. Knits spruced up a knit hoodie wholesaling for $155 with lace trim on the shoulders and perforation on the sides. New York-based KAS circled the neckline of a silk georgette dress wholesaling for $64 with hand-braided trim. New York’s Alice Ritter mixed panels of crinkled cotton with lace strips on romantic tops wholesaling for $150. — K.T.L.T.
Mood: About 50 vendors saw a steady flow of traffic from retailers, including American Rag Cie. Buyers sought lower-priced alternatives for trendy pieces.
Key Trends: Comfortable clothes with a funky twist in neutral colors such as gray, mauve, navy and cream.
Best in Show: New York’s Zoa offered $45 hoodies made with silk jersey on the body and silk chiffon on the sleeves. Australia’s Wish made its debut with cream crochet crop tops. Belgium’s Sarah Pacini did a loose weave of nylon and linen for a knit trench wholesaling for $165. — K.T.L.T.
Mood: Roughly 40 exhibitors seemed content with a healthy turnout of retailers from around the country and world, but were disappointed most buyers came just to look and place orders at a later date.
Key Trends: Vendors tried to offer unique, personalized and versatile merchandise.
Best in Show: Stella Page Design, an accessories brand based in Monterey, Calif., only produces around 20 pieces of each handbag, and the pieces are sold with certificates of authenticity. Jacksonville Beach, Fla.-based Reno Rose presented lightweight multifunctional scarves that were checked out by QVC Japan. Newport Coast, Calif.-based eco brand Annie and Jade by Annie Le debuted at Focus with its second apparel collection that emphasized draping; a key item was a silk jumper wholesaling for $208, colored with nontoxic dyes. — R.B.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
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