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Economy Tempers Mood at FAME, Moda Manhattan

NEW YORK — Caution was in the air at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this week, as two apparel trade shows saw sporadic buying and attendance, but a spirited mood still prevailed.<br><br>Buyers did praise the shared-venue strategy as...

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NEW YORK — Caution was in the air at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this week, as two apparel trade shows saw sporadic buying and attendance, but a spirited mood still prevailed.

Buyers did praise the shared-venue strategy as practical and advantageous. Many vendors and merchants were doing business on fall and holiday goods, even though the shows were billed as early spring events.

Ending Tuesday at the Javits Center here were Fashion Avenue Market Expo (FAME), which kicked off Saturday, and Moda Manhattan, which began Sunday. Both shows were produced by Business Journals Inc., as was the coinciding AccessoriesTheShow. In total, more than 2,100 lines were featured at the three exhibitions, and 8,000 buyers attended the Moda and ATS shows, while 7,500 buyers attended FAME.

“The first day was slow, but Sunday and Monday were very good,” said Shanaa Vallipuram, account executive for the better-priced BC Fashion line, referring to FAME. “Because of the economy, some stores are not placing big orders, but we have a minimum of six units per style so that helps. We have two customers: Some want very clean looks and others want a lot of trims and details.”

Putumayo sales representative Nikki Thomas said the show has been “fabulous,” as the moderate-priced, specialty store line premiered its spring line at the show. Thomas said about 75 percent of their business is repeat, while gaining about 25 percent in new store accounts.

“A lot of people don’t look at spring until October, but buyers know we sell out so they are ordering now,” she said of the related sportswear line. “But then again, we’re selling to a lot of people who had a really good spring and summer, so they are upbeat about buying.”

Lori Moskowitz, owner of the Katz Meow store in Rosland, N.Y., was on the prowl for contemporary sportswear looks for fall and winter.

“We’ve bought about four lines already. Our customer likes new styles, so we’re just buying what we like, mostly items with new trims and details,” said Moskowitz, as she ordered knit tops from Vermani. “Overall, the shows are small, but the assortment looks nice.”

“Good, but slow” is how Louis Milowsky, Vermani’s vice president of sales, described business at FAME.

“Traffic is slow but we’re still getting orders,” he said of the New York-based, better-priced line of silk and Lycra spandex tops. “We’re looking to do a little over six figures and we’ll be close to it.”

While Milowsky said he saw retailers from the Midwest, Florida and even South America, he said he would like to see more from out of town.

“Retailers are definitely very cautious and buying much closer to delivery,” he said. “Because of that, we’re not even showing resort, only fall and holiday.”

Store owner Christine Murowamy-Hidell of Perfection in Newark, Del., was busy placing orders for Shennel, a hand-embroidered collection of tops, skirts, dresses and shawls.

“These types of items that are timeless are what I’m looking for,” she said. “You can throw them in a suitcase, travel and change your look. I did come to the show with an idea of what I wanted to buy and I haven’t strayed from that — there have been fewer emotional purchases.”

Meanwhile, at Moda Manhattan, a little buzz was circulating amongst retailers over the new Pamela Ferrari line.

Ferrari flew in from Florence to launch her line of women’s, men’s and children’s wear. Featuring bright, watercolor designs on Italian cottons, all the items are made in Italy. The collection features T-shirts, sheath dresses, cropped pants and shorts, wholesaling for $60 to $129.

Despite the challenge of starting a new line during hard-pressed economic times, Ferrari said her American representative thought it would be good to launch at Moda and have a trial run.

“We’ve had a huge response. On the first day, we opened about 25 retail accounts,” said Ferrari, who also is known for her bath collection, Creative Bath.

Retailer Mary Ellen Miller, owner of Bedlam Street Ltd. in Cold Springs Harbor, N.Y., was busy placing orders for Ferrari bermuda shorts while adding: “She has lovely fashion with vibrant colors. This is great and a beautiful fit for all ages.”

The Newport, R.I.-based Fjall line was also seeing interest in its spring sportswear, after already selling out on fall, said sales rep Stacie Browning. Fjall’s tops, bottoms and skirts wholesale for $30 to $60.

“Still, more retailers are buying closer to season and more immediates. They are writing orders though,” she said. “The show has been very slow, but there has been interest in skorts and cutesy looks. Polkadots are doing really well.”

On the search for clothing and accessories for holiday and resort was Marlene Shepherd, owner of Shepherd’s in Ottawa, Canada.

“It’s always better to have shows at the same place and same time,” she said of the shared venue. “There’s just a lot of shows out there, so this makes it easier to decide.”

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