ISAM BUYERS COME TO LOOK, NOT ORDER

Byline: KIM-VAN DANG and RENEE RIZZUTO

LOS ANGELES--Although the three-day International Swimwear and Activewear Market here attracted a record number of buyers, many of them said they would delay placing orders until next month.
Those interviewed said they attended ISAM, which ended last Wednesday, to get an overview of new trends. About 380 retailers attended ISAM at the California Mart, up 15 percent from a year ago, according to Barbara Brady, the show coordinator.
Market highlights included a runway show featuring 94 suits and a Sirena Group fashion show covering all of the company's divisions: Sirena, Anne Klein, Rose Marie Reid, Look & Sea and Wear Abouts.
New ISAM resources included Gideon Oberson, a contemporary swimwear line from Israel with U.S. offices in New York, and SGS Sports of Montreal, which recently acquired the North American license for Body Glove junior swimwear.
Buyers sought body-shaping swimwear in textured fabrics. Color preferences ranged from neon brights to deep fall shades. Budgets were generally flat.
Olga Garcia, owner of The Swim Meet in Mission Viejo, Calif., was looking for suits from $25 to $40 wholesale. Although she came to market with a flat budget, the retailer left intending to increase her open-to-buy.
"The eyelet and pointelle details were cute, the stretch corduroy was fun, and the macrame was great, really hippie," she said of the textured offerings. Garcia favored an array of colors, too, from hot pink to forest green and burgundy. Shok and Citrus were her key resources. Suits that addressed full-sized women also topped her list.
"My customers want tops that cover and bottoms that camouflage tummies," she said.
Desiree Locatelli, buyer for It Suits U, based in Las Vegas, agreed with Garcia. The store was moving away from providing custom alterations, she said, adding that it was more important than ever to find off-the-rack suits that fit. "We found some slimming styles with coverage at ISAM," she said, adding that details such as floating underwires and built-in girdles were important to her. She noted, however, that the market was still lacking in large sizes, particularly suits for size E and F busts. Shopping various price points, she was impressed with goods by Cazimi, Baja Blue and Daffy.
Kathleen Mudd, owner of Canyon Beachwear in Santa Monica, Calif., with units in San Francisco, Pasadena and West Hollywood, was after textured suits with bra construction.
"Beach Patrol makes a copy of the Wonderbra that is very important," she said."They make suits with removable pads, too, which is even better because it offers the customer options."
Other new silhouettes that excited Mudd included side-tie bikinis by Hobie, Tango Rose and Radio Fiji. The buyer was interested in Jag's new Cordokinetic fabric--a nylon and Lycra spandex blend that "looks and feels like cotton and Lycra spandex but holds color and doesn't snag." She was also impressed by OP's colorful print suits with eyelet overlay and the market's new neon and pastel colors.
"It was needed after years of earth tones," she said. Shopping prices of $28 to $70 wholesale, she came to the market with a flat open-to-buy, citing slow business that has been picking up only in the past month.
Jean Zalkins, owner of Splash & Flash in La Quinta, Calif., with three other Southern California desert locations, was happy to find an abundance of turquoise suits, especially printed ones. Zalkins's ISAM picks included Raisins' overall-style one-piece suit, Pilpel's ethnic-print suits in muted brights and Sirena's hand-painted tank suit with matching coverups.
Zalkins increased her cruise buying budget by 10 percent, confident that sales will heat up in October.
Cheryl Ratkowski, owner of Beach Scene of Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., said she liked "anything with raised textures."
"It's good to see brights: yellows, oranges and melons," she said. "Most companies only offered one grouping of brights, though. They should have done more."

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