By  on May 30, 2007

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Novelty was the name of the game for action sports companies that unveiled holiday offerings at the ASR Trade Expo here.

The two-day event last Wednesday and Thursday at the Orange County Fair & Exposition Center drew mostly Southern California-based retailers from core board sport shops such as Tilly's, Becker and Jack's Surfboards. However, buyers from as far as Mexico, Puerto Rico and North Carolina also shopped for clothing, accessories and swimwear that will begin shipping in late August.

Marking its second year, the holiday show is far smaller than ASR's fall and spring events in terms of the number of buyers and exhibitors. But the holiday season is crucial for the multibillion-dollar action sports industry, which, like other apparel sectors, constantly needs to generate new collections to replenish stores and satisfy shoppers. ASR said the number of buyers increased 16 percent from 500 last year.

Consumers shop holiday collections for gifts as well as outfits for year-end festivities, and retailers scoured the show for fleece hoodies, jackets and dresses in jewel tones and eye-catching patterns like plaid and herringbone, vendors said.

"Fleece is still super-strong," said Lindsay Henkels, national women's sales manager at Ezekiel, explaining that the company increased the number of fleece styles to 16 from 11 a year ago.

Jane Campbell Young, owner of specialty shop Local Color in Balboa, Calif., shopped for sundresses, swimsuits and roll-up jean shorts from companies such as Roxy and Lucy Love. "The shorts have not been 'in' in a long time,'' she said.

Understanding that its customer is a budget-conscious teenager, Fox sought to provide more value, such as a hoodie with sleeves that can be zipped off or a shortsleeved version with smocking and green-striped lining in the hood. "The basic doesn't do it anymore," said sales representative Jodi Rea.

Some manufacturers said they need to offer holiday products to keep up with trends, especially as their junior divisions boost the fashion quotient to compete with mainstream brands. "If we don't have holiday, we're basically saying we're not fashion," said Cameron Martin, Southern California sales representative for Rusty, who said bestsellers were novel items such as a black crochet cardigan with forest green velvet trim, cropped sleeves and a $29 wholesale price.

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