MIAMI: FAST FASHION, SLOW TRAFFIC

Byline: Janet Ozzard

MIAMI--Despite the presence of some big new names at the third edition of the International Jeanswear and Streetwear show here, many vendors complained that once again, the show lacked the key ingredient--enough traffic.
While it still has the support of its exhibitors, who believe the show concept is valid, several vendors said that Jeanswearneeds more promotion aimed directly at getting retailers on the floor, and that the timing was too late.
They said many stores had already spent most of their spring dollars either in showrooms or at other trade shows such as MAGIC in Las Vegas and the International Fashion Boutique Show in New York, leaving little left for jeanswear.
The show ended its three-day run at the Miami Beach Convention Center here Monday. For those retailers who did attend, there was a new mix of denim and streetwear, a few new looks and many ongoing trends.
Retailers said they liked themix of vendors, and were keeping an eye open for new trends. They agreed, though, that the fall's bestsellers all had enough momentum to continue into spring. These include the five-pocket jean, the denim dress, the shrunken logo T-shirt and variations on the A-line skirt.
Among new trends, retailers were paying attention to tight stretch jeans and a return of wide-leg jeans. They saw the addition of streetwear to the usual jeans mix as a plus for the show.
Showing at the event for the first time were Anne Klein & Co., which is introducing a denim line under the label Anne Klein Denim, and DKNY, which wants to build its brand as a commodity in the high-end denim business. Both those booths had steady traffic during the show's three-day run.
Shopping the show were representatives from such stores as Canada's Eaton's, Dayton's Hudson's, Joppa, Md.-based Merry Go Round stores and Macy's East. There were also some key smaller specialty accounts such as Up Against the Wall of Washington, D.C.
Nevertheless, a typical exhibitor gripe was that from Daniel De Costa, vice president of Joop Jeans, which has been at each edition of the show.
"The timing was too late," De Costa said. "I love the idea, I think it's a fantastic show, but I'm here to do business. I could have gotten on the phone in my office for three days and done what I did here."
Brandusa Niro, a sales agent who brought 29 French, English and Italian sportswear companies to the show, said she felt there hadn't been enough advance outreach to buyers.
"They could hire one person to just call buyers and that person's salary would be less than the party they put on," she said. "They are very lucky to have so many good vendors. All the companies coming here are giving them a vote of confidence."
Marshall Lester, chief executive of Blenheim's U.S. fashion operations, producer of the show, admitted the timing was bad, but countered by pointing out that some vendors reported having "a great show."
"We know that the dates were late, and we've taken steps to change that for next time. At this show, we were forced to have later dates, and most buyers had already spent their money. That creates a situation like, why should buyers come to the show if they've spent all their money?"
Because of the timing, some exhibitors used the show primarily to promote concepts or image rather than write orders.
At the Replay booth, vice president of advertising Sandro Lanfranchi said that although the show was too late for the Italian-based jeanswear company to write any spring orders, he was there to promote Replay's franchise store and in-store shop concepts.
"This is also the jumping-off point for South America," said Lanfranchi.
Jaime Leon Lachowsky and Luis Antonio Souza, two buyers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Omar Karim Mourad, a buyer from Isla de Margarita, Venezuela, were eating olives and parmesan cheese in Replay's cafe, and planning their show strategy.
Lachowsky is the president of a group of three stores in Sao Paulo--Blush, K-1 and Janis. Mourad is the owner of Okio, and Souza also owns a store.
They were among the limited group of buyers on hand who said they had plenty of open-to-buy for the show. They were also at the show to make contacts with new American accounts, Souza said, now that Brazilian inflation is under control and trade restrictions have been relaxed.
"It's a new decade for us, where we can start importing things that had been forbidden," Souza said. "Now we have good money, and we can buy outside the country."
Denim and streetwear are very popular in their countries, the three buyers noted.
"We are Latin," said Souza. "We are more casual."
"My store is 80 percent basic and 20 percent fashion," said Mourad. "If I see a trend, I will buy it, because my store is in a resort area and I get a lot of customers from Caracas."
"There are a lot more exhibitors. I'll definitely be leaving orders. The seasons are different for us in South America, so we can buy both spring and fall at once," said Lachowsky.
At the DKNY booth, president Denise Seegal said she had brought the line down to expose the denim to the specialty store business and increase awareness of the brand as a commodity line. Most of the goods in the booth were jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts and denim-related items.
One DKNY sales executive was working with four buyers from the Boogie's chain.
"At this show, you find people who understand the finesse of our product," Seegal said. "We've seen people from Chicago, Canada, South America. It's a pretty diverse group, geographically."
Plunkett Dodge, owner of five stores under the name Island Passage in the Wilmington, N.C., area, said her budget was up because she was looking for new vendors for her expanding men's area. In women's, she said, she was looking for Tencel jeans, because she's been selling loose-fitting men's Tencel jeans to her female customers.
She said she'd be working with Urban Outfitters and Hard Tail and looking for new vendors for "very short skirts"--she said she can't keep them in the store--as well as long dresses. Wendy Red, buyer for the Up Against the Wall stores in the Washington, D.C., area, said the one trend that had emerged for her at the show was "rubber."
"Rubber skirts, rubber tops, rubber dresses," she said. She was also interested in other unusual materials, citing a mini circle skirt made of quilted crib mattress material at the booth of Atlanta-based Bill Hallman.
"I'm also looking for wide-leg jeans for women," she said. "It's sort of resurging. Kilts have peaked and A-line skirts look much better. My open-to-buy is up mostly because of skirts."
Red said she would also be looking for nylon T-shirts, in mesh or knit, and some short "scooter skirts."
Deborah Burges was shopping the show for her three stores under the name Burges in Hamilton, the Bahamas. Burges also said she was looking for wide-leg jeans, as well as some trendy denim for her shops, which are mostly aimed at tourist traffic.
She said she'd visit her key vendors--Yes, Cross Colors and Karl Kani--as well as look for new sources for "long denim dresses and miniskirts" to retail around $70.
Barbara Grimner, buyer for the Barbara Fields Buying Office, said the shrunken T-shirt with logo or a saying was healthy.
"They're everywhere," she said. "There are a lot of graphics, tattoos, T-shirts with pythons, that sort of look. It's very rock 'n' roll. I'm also seeing a lot of honeycomb, plaid shorts, gauzes. I've seen a lot of people here writing immediate. The new RCSP line from Parasuco looks very good."

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