LOS ANGELES — Dueling trends of casual ease and glamour topped buyers’ shopping lists at the latest holiday-resort market that ended here Tuesday.
The American uniform of jeans and T-shirts wasn’t fading a bit and companies took it up a notch with heavy embroidery, brooches and bohemian takes, such as Glam’s crepe kurtas and Zoe D tunics. At the same time, buyers said their customers wanted to get dressed up in cashmere, furs and party dresses, including gypsy-girl dresses from Rebecca Taylor and Anja Flint’s swingy silk chiffon beaded dresses.
“If you’re not into sparkling clothes, you might as well not dress this holiday season,” said Cherie Shelton, co-owner of La Bella boutique in Long Beach, Calif., who was eyeing Iisli’s cashmere sweaters with Swarovski crystals and cable-knit blazers with gold flecks.
Joane Pickett, owner of contemporary boutique Pickett Fences on Larchmont Boulevard here, said her customers couldn’t get enough cashmere. In one week, she sold out of a dozen cashmere ponchos at $300 apiece.
“It doesn’t matter what the season is,” she said. “They’re buying whatever they like, whenever they like.”
Buyer Sharon Segal, who owns a store at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, agreed. “It’s about whatever makes you feel good,” said Segal, who was looking for jewelry and handbags and picked up the new denim line, People for Peace, adorned with topstitched peace signs and red and orange embroidered flowers.
Up-and-comers among the dungarees and T-shirts included Landes Daily, an 18-month-old line of enzyme-washed Ts; Zooey, a contemporary collection of supima cotton, solid-colored Ts, also offered in turtleneck, side snap and hoodie styles; Live, a new contemporary denim line from Karl Kani featuring one body in eight washes detailed with calfskin patches, hand-sanding or paint splatters, and Too She She, a new denim line with a misses’ fit featuring silk and brocade trims and bows on the hems.
With buyers eager to seize on a collection unspoken for by retail competitors, most of the newcomers quickly found a following.
“I projected a million [dollars] in sales for the first year and it’s feeling like three million [dollars],” said Zooey owner Alice Heller, who said the line was picked up by Madison in Los Angeles and Planet Blue in Malibu.At the Designers & Agents Annex at the New Mart, Stitch’s denim, a new line featuring five styles from Albert Dahan, who began Da-Nang, was eagerly snapped up. Trovata from Newport Beach, Calif., also caused a buzz for its city safari looks, such as Army-inspired coats with peacoat buttons and poplin shirts with contrast inside cuffs. At the show, Blue Bee from Santa Barbara picked up the collection, which wholesales from $54 to $105.
Momentum also was strong for Fresh Los Angeles, a three-month-old line of vintage wares begun by a former Riley designer, Owen Thornton, showing at the Cooper Design Space. Vintage tweed jackets with sleeve embroidery and screen-printed lining and reconstructed T-shirts with bleach-splattered designs were the top sellers of the collection, which wholesales from $18 for the T-shirts to $130 for the jackets.
At the California Market Center, laser-cut midlength skirts with patched fabric by Los Angles-based Idom were selling at the Carol & Erin Herzog showroom. Sharon Koshet, who owns a CMC showroom, said interest was strong for Alberto Makali Evening beaded gowns and Arev colored denim with rhinestone-trimmed leg slits.
Sharon Jacobs, owner of the Wardrobe in Palm Springs, Calif., said it was about “novelty” for her “25-year-old-to-death” customer.
“I’m looking for items that work back to denim,” said Jacobs, who picked up Isabel tops.
Show traffic reports were mixed. The CMC said it was on track to record the highest registered retail attendance for an August market in eight years, and D&A co-founder Barbara Kramer said the market was “amazing,” with attendance growing 20 percent to 1,600 buyers from last August and the number of lines increasing 30 percent to 200.
Brighte (formerly Brighte Companies) exceeded expectations, said Elyse Kroll, president of ENK International, the show’s producer. Brighte attracted 62 exhibitors, up 9 percent from the June market, including 7 Slade, A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, Dolce & Gabbana Beachwear and Follow Your Bliss, and more than 1,500 visitors
“We weren’t sure if we were going to do an August market, because we’ve heard it’s a slow time and this knocked our socks off,” Kroll said.“We’ve been very pleased,” said New York-based showroom owner Jeffrey Schwager, who brought Zoe D, Genes, Eve Lynn and Stephanie Beare to the Brighte show. “This is our first time at Brighte and we came because we think, with terrorism out there, some stores don’t want to travel and prefer regional shows.”
But some sales representatives wondered where customers were, citing upcoming MAGIC International as competition, as well as economic and political worries as future concerns.
“It’s been slow, slow, quick, quick slow,” said Peter Jacobson, owner of multiline showroom Creative Concepts at the CMC, which carries Rizal, Simorra and Nellik. “My business has doubled in the last year, but am I confident going forward? No.”
One look at market changes and it’s easy to see its unsteadiness. Designer Charles Amzallac, formerly of Tokyo Denim Bank (known for its heavily embellished satin bombers), which shuttered earlier this year, launched People for Peace. Orly Dahan, who closed his 12-year-old Tag Rag junior business two months ago to focus on his year-old camisole line, Gold Hawk, and denim line, Tag +, said contemporary is where the market is, but even that category has gotten increasingly competitive.
Indeed, Gold Hawk and Stitch’s didn’t want photos of their new product taken. “We’ve gotten knocked off so many times, we’d at least like to ship it before that happens,” said Dahan wryly.