By  on November 8, 2007

MIAMI BEACH — For its third Miami event, the contemporary trade show Coast sought to build momentum.

Coast president Karen Bennett said the show, which occurs three times annually, had doubled to 124 exhibitors since its January 2007 debut. It was held at the Savoy Hotel here on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"South Florida buyers want...the hottest, freshest looks," Bennett said. "They also don't like traveling to New York, so that [Coast is] in their backyard is a huge bonus."

Bennett plans to add a fashion show component in February.

Designer Alvin Valley, a first-time exhibitor and Miami native, said Coast's vibe fostered an information exchange about trends, merchandising and fit that will help retailers move product. "It's also successful because South Florida has better fashion taste and boutiques now, especially with all the savvy weekend tourists," he said.

Valley, who has 50 Florida doors, including Miami boutiques Ios, Vigi and On My Own-Sylvia's Place, met with new accounts such as Cool Jane in Aventura and Trilogy in Delray Beach. Retailers wrote suits from Valley's eponymous line, and responded to Alvin, his diffusion collaboration with Nordstrom that launched at Coterie.

"From Alvin, they liked anything white, brightly colored, printed, short-sleeved or light in fabric and silhouette," Valley said, pulling out a sundress with tiered ruffles in purple cotton sateen for $91 wholesale, and a keyhole top with slight cap sleeves and snap details for $58.

During her second Coast visit, Vigi owner Virginia Lovaton secured an Alvin Valley trunk show, and picked up new lines, including Independent Art, a Japanese maker of tailored shirts such as deconstructed wraps with mother-of-pearl buttons, and Nightcap, a Los Angeles-based casualwear collection updated with lace and ruffles in trendy silhouettes like off-the-shoulder dresses. With holiday gifts in mind, she also placed immediate orders for fortune cookie necklaces and key rings with antique keys and sayings like "To My Bedroom" from Los Angeles-based jewelry line Jessica Elliot.

Lovaton attributed healthy sales to understanding each vendor's inspiration through one-on-one discussions with sales reps.

Brooke Rosenstadt, a sales rep for Lily Kate multiline showroom in New York and Los Angeles, also planned to return based on first-day response. Though she heavily prebooked appointments for popular lines in the region such as Nieves Lavi, 18th Amendment and Young, Fabulous & Broke, she was surprised by the number of walk-ins."Retailers actually go into every hotel suite because they're not rushed, and they can really write orders down to which item will be worn by which customer," she said, opening new accounts in Atlanta and Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.

After participating in Coast's biannual sister shows in Boston and Chicago, Sara Strum, founder of Space 33 Showroom in Miami, said the Florida event has been her strongest because of local buyers' familiarity with her all-South Floridian designer lineup.

"Since my business isn't more than a year old, and my collections are emerging, retailers want to know we'll all stick around for a while before they invest," she said.

Nearby boutiques such as The Transit Shop also like supporting homegrown talent, Strum said. She had luck with Krelwear's bubble-top minidress that wholesales for $145 and athletic-inspired T-shirt in hand-loomed, cut-and-sewn knits, many with Lurex or eco-friendly yarns for $65, and Lorie Lester's second collection featuring a floor-length chiffon dress in an abstract print with a black leather bustier for $129 wholesale.

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