By  on February 21, 2006

Trends toward casual looks mean opportunity for resort and swimwear vendors, even during this typically slow time of year.

Several factors, including the trend toward increasingly casual clothing and a desire to live a resort "lifestyle" regardless of the season, have led to an increase in resort-oriented retail doors, but the weather and consumer buying patterns still affect how much buyers are willing to spend.

Retailers, as always, have newness and added value on their shopping lists, and WWDMAGIC vendors, faced with many challenges, including a tidal wave of offshore companies and goods and mass retailers with private label merchandise, are adapting to meet these demands. Add to the mix shorter buying seasons, the changing merchandise mix in resort stores and on department store floors and the pressure to keep up with increasingly competitive and fashion-forward mass retailers, and WWDMAGIC swim and resort vendors have a lot to juggle.

The February edition of WWDMAGIC is always a smaller show for this category, as most of the resort season buying is done during the August show and other trade shows over the summer. Still, February is a time for retailers to freshen their current merchandise, update or augment their summer offerings and get their first glimpses of fall looks.

Some WWDMAGIC vendors who have shown in August since the beginning, such as Los Angeles-based swimwear giant Apparel Ventures Inc., have realized there are additional sales opportunities to be had with existing accounts in February, while some businesses just getting off the ground, such as Colorado-based Tangerine Temple, see the February show as a way to build a client base.

"The fall MAGIC show is really more sportswear oriented and not as swim driven as a show like ASR, but a nice resort in Colorado, for example, that's only buying one contemporary swim collection like our LaBlanca line, will want to add some newness. That's an opportunity," said AVI's vice president of sales, Ron Russell.

Still other veteran exhibitors, such as the Ronnie and Ellyce Sales showroom in Los Angeles' California Market Center, see the show as yet another opportunity to find new accounts. "In order to exist in this business you have to have many [accounts]. If you depend on one or two or three, you're going to have a problem," said partner Ronnie Nathan. "February is a lot about new accounts for us." The showroom carries Jennifer Kay Inc. swimwear lines California Waves, Pink Sands and Endless Sun; the slimming bathing suit Shore Shapes; cover-up lines Bing Bang and Cover Me, and the flip-flop line Issara, among others.

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