For Coterie-bound brands, exposure is nearly as important as sales — especially for labels just breaking into the market.
The first question buyers ask when you're just starting out in business is, "Do you do Coterie?" said Michael Suozzi, vice president and co-founder of FRx, a premium denim brand. "Exposure is the benefit of doing a show like Coterie."
FRx has been at Coterie since the line began three years ago. As a denim brand, Suozzi said, trade shows are crucial. "Jeans are not seasonal. It's all about what you bring to market each season. You have to give retailers a new reason to buy," he said.
Guy Kinberg, president and co-founder of FRx, said at trade shows, such as Intermezzo, also produced by ENK International, he typically opens roughly 40 new accounts. At Coterie, the number is closer to 50. "The traffic at Coterie is double anywhere else," he added, referencing trade shows that aren't produced by ENK International.
FRx will show styles available for both immediate deliveries and for spring. "You end up doing more immediate business than spring business, but the reaction you get for spring gives you an indication of what you should be working on. It's twofold," Suozzi said.
Among the styles on hand, FRx will feature its Perfection Jean. This particular style has a nylon and Lycra spandex insert sewn into the jeans that runs from the waist to about midthigh. It lifts, separates and rounds out the behind. In order to give potential buyers a sense of the jeans, women will be encouraged to try them on in a dressing room located in the FRx booth and will have their photographs taken so they can view their images from the back in their own jeans and the Perfection Jean for comparison.
"Most people don't have any idea what their butt looks like straight on," Suozzi said.
Over the three-day period at Coterie, Kinberg expects to do roughly $250,000 in wholesale volume. "That doesn't include the major department stores," he added. "They come to look but will place orders later."
Craig Taylor, owner of the New York-based shirt brand named after him, said Coterie was especially important for making connections with specialty boutiques. This September marks the second season Taylor is showing at Coterie; he expects this show to be as successful as the last."Judging from our booth last season and how busy we were, we are anticipating a terrific turn out," Taylor said. "We've increased the size of our booth in order to accommodate more customers."
The focus this season, Taylor said, is to broaden the brand's high-end specialty boutique base. "The show is still new for us. It is difficult to place a dollar amount on the show," said Taylor.
At this Coterie, Craig Taylor will show four different shirt silhouettes offered in 50 high-end European fabrics, many of which are exclusive to the collection. Additionally, the brand will introduce layering pieces in coordinating colors that will work back to the shirts. For spring, prints will lead the way in terms of trends and camisoles in Sixties-inspired prints that have been redesigned and recolored. The signature blouse for this season is a white Egyptian cotton style with a stylized paisley design of turquoise and lime.
"We have already presented the collection to our department stores and have had an unprecedented response to the collection," Taylor said. "Although Craig Taylor is a brand that has been traditionally known as somewhat limited because of the higher price points, the direction this season is to make the brand accessible to a broader customer base. By having our exclusive California factory we were able to improve our quality, while making our price points more attractive."
The wholesale price range of the collection is between $80 and $139.
Terese Feltes, president and chief executive of Ascension, the contemporary clothing company based here, said Coterie is a great place to walk away with a substantial amount of business. "It's obviously where you're going to see the maximum amount of buyers in one location," Feltes said. "It's the premiere show. It's where you're going to find all the main names." This is the third year the collection has been shown at Coterie.
Ascension specializes in drapy tops and cashmere sweaters ranging in wholesale price from $30 to $50. During a three-day period, Feltes said she expects the brand will generate between $300,000 and $400,000. The wholesale volume is expected to reach about $6 million in 2006.
For spring, Ascension tops are romantic: a bit crumpled, tattered, and created from a neutral palette. The collection is available at stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Fred Segal in Los Angeles and Scoop boutiques across the nation."Distribution can get a little murky," she said. "The trick is to protect the stores you're already doing business with."
In the ever-popular denim world, Ulrich Conrad Simpson, founder of the denim company Ubi Jeans, said distribution is key. Since his line had a soft launch for holiday, spring is where Simpson is looking to add more distribution.
"We're looking to keep it a small business and grow it gradually. It's really about right placement and right distribution," said Simpson, better known as Ubi. He added that he expects his company to generate roughly $3 million in wholesale volume this year.
He will mostly be showing spring merchandise at the Coterie, but will have some merchandise for immediate delivery on hand. White denim runs through spring, this time in updated, crisp looks such as a white denim trench jacket and white denim wrap dress. "We're trying to get softer and more sophisticated," he said.
All of the production is done in Guatemala, where Simpson and the brand are based. The wholesale price range of the collection ranges from $75 for a basic five-pocket denim style to $150 for the trench.
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