LOS ANGELES — Revved-up fashion, consolidation talk and hints of seasonal confusion highlighted the ASR trade show at the San Diego Convention Center that ended Jan. 16.
Juniors and young contemporary brands were focused on making a splash with heightened style. Oakley, Matix and Cult Industries defied the active lifestyle convention with offerings such as Asian embroidered tops, short trench jackets and palazzo pants. Oakley even plans to join in the catwalks of New York Fashion Week for the first time next month. A spokeswoman for 7th on Sixth, producers of the event, confirmed Oakley’s show on Feb. 5.
At the same time, there was buzz about the consolidation trend in the industry on the vendor and retailer front. Last fall, Billabong purchased the Southern California Beach Access five-store chain. Most recently, Quiksilver made a bid for ski behemoth Rossignol, which hasn’t been finalized. Joel Cooper, chief executive officer of Lost International, said he purchased stock in Quiksilver when he heard the news.
“It’s great for the company in terms of diversification and would double its presence in Europe,” he said, adding that it’s also a positive sign for the industry. “It shows that there are strong, sought-after brands in this category.”
Executives of smaller specialty stores said they’re talking among themselves in hopes of creating a unified retail front.
“It’s a sexy concept — getting the top 20 independent retailers together who may have two to four stores each and combining forces into one entity,” said Dave Hollander, president of Becker Surf & Sport, a five-store, $15 million chain based in Torrance, Calif. “That could mean a $120 million company right off the bat with economies of scale. Nobody’s pulling the trigger yet, but it’s a thought that’s out there.”
Still under consideration is when ASR vendors should show their fall lines. About one-third of the vendors were breaking fall this past weekend. Many showcased late spring and summer looks, holding off for MAGIC International and WWDMAGIC in February where they stake out hotel rooms and private suites for their fall showing.
“Our show times are still in transition,” said ASR show director Kevin Flanagan, noting even the unsteady future of ASR’s fall event in March. “That show has served a purpose and it’s not completely decided if that purpose continues.”
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