By  on August 27, 2007

Soaring selection is WWDMAGIC's main attraction, according to retailers set to attend the show.

Despite hitting most every market, from regional shows to New York's big-time productions, Ron Wallace, owner of 3 Monkeys, a juniors, home and vintage store in Portland, Ore., said the Vegas behemoth remains a must for its eclectic assortment of international vendors.

"I've been to MAGIC twice a year for more than a decade," said Wallace, who walks every aisle to source new lines — typically comprising 10 to 20 percent of his apparel and accessories open-to-buy — keep in touch with established representatives and pick up on trends. "It's a great visual treat, since there's a sea of attendees wearing the latest looks."

Concentrating on holiday this week, he plans to write another round of dresses, including some with subtle sparkle for parties; lightweight cover-ups like shrugs and Fifties-inspired cardigans, and a trendy palette ranging from charcoal to purple and yellow. Color is strong on Portland's fashion radar, according to Wallace, who could only sell neutrals a few seasons ago.

"Kids are asking for yellow, and I can sell pink coats now," he said.

Los Angeles vendors like Tulle appeal to his West Coast lifestyle and aesthetic. He particularly likes Tulle's 2007 coat collection for its retail prices, from $85 to $150, and midcentury influence.

"My background is vintage, so I love this year's retro feel," he said.

Accessories represent 30 percent of his open-to-buy, and he'll be sourcing bags of all shapes and sizes with sewn details like ruching; caps from military to school boy, and jewelry retailing for less than $50, including large, Eighties-inspired earrings and chains adorned with pearls and stones for layering. Wallace plans to visit Deluxe Accessories for retro jewelry, Hat Stack/Hat Shack and San Diego Hat Co. for headwear and Bungalow360 for bags.

"Bungalow is a small, inexpensive line but has cute styles and canvas prints," he said.

Tulle's coats also are a hit in Hattiesburg, Miss., according to Amy Rozier, a women's buyer for Randy Price & Co., a men's and women's sportswear boutique. She said the brand's trapeze coat in bright tweed sold out at $78 retail by early August. Along with ordering more Tulle A-line and three-quarter-sleeve coats in cotton poplin, tweed and velour, she has penciled in Michael Stars for turtlenecks and long-bodied tank tops in a range of colors and KLD Signature for halter, kimono and wrap tops and dresses in cotton jersey and printed chiffon."KLD has staples everyone requests for reasonable retail prices — $58 to $98 retail. You can throw them on with jeans and wear boots or flip-flops, too," Rozier said, adding that she will also order its knits in brown with gold Lurex and black with silver Lurex for holiday.

Joseph Ribkoff is another tried-and-true vendor where Rozier hopes to locate wrap and baby-doll dresses in rayon jersey knits, wide-leg pants in neutrals and tweeds and tailored jackets with a touch of shine for holiday events. She said shoppers appreciate Joseph Ribkoff's classic direction and machine-washable fabrics.

Rozier dedicates 15 percent of her open-to-buy to accessories like Matt & Nat messenger bags, clutches and wallets, in fashion colors such as metallics, ruby red and canary yellow, and jewelry from small vendors that can retail below $100. "I'm looking for stackable bangles of all types, from colored to mix-and-match gold and silver," she said, adding that WWDMAGIC always manages to bring together the right mix for her needs. "MAGIC has so much more to offer."

When Lambrecht's, a gift, home and floral emporium in New Ulm, Minn., expanded into women's wear and accessories six years ago, chief financial officer and buyer Donna Lambrecht initially attended markets in the Midwest. Through direct mailings and vendor advice, she heard about WWDMAGIC and first attended in August 2006. At the show she has written lines including Zena Jeans, which designs styles with an updated misses' fit averaging $45 retail, and Parsley & Sage, whose coat-like shawls in bright bold prints sold through at $60.

"The show has such a large presentation, my biggest revelation is how much variety is out there and that I haven't even scratched the surface of what my apparel section will become," said Lambrecht, who will be searching for brands that aren't carried in her region.

Jamicia Wylie, buyer and manager for Gil's Clothing Co., a young contemporary and premium denim boutique in Oklahoma City, heads to WWDMAGIC with a boosted budget, as sales have increased 40 percent in 2007. She said it's her key show.

"It's the largest representation of lines and trends, and Vegas is fun," said Wylie.She plans to order jeans in straight boot cuts or slightly flared legs in dark washes and low rises by Miss Me, the store's sole denim line below $100. Wylie plans to touch on the wide-leg and high-waist trends as well. Another pre-booked appointment is with Scrapbook Originals, a Westminster, Calif.-based collection of casual basics with appliqués and screen prints, retailing between $40 and $90.

"My customer still wants tunics and sexy cuts like V-necks," Wylie said, adding that she also hopes to find jewel tones, especially purples, cute tops to work back to denim and holiday dresses with glitzy elements such as satin, lace and metallic embellishments. "Our dress sales more than doubled this year, so I'll move forward with them for spring 2008."

Kay Emmert, owner of S.M. Bradford, a specialty store chain with headquarters in Hilton Head, S.C., has an increased open-to-buy as well, but will concentrate on resort 2008 since most locations don't cater to winter traffic. Also staying away from baby-doll dresses, gray and wool due to her market, she said sundresses and wrap dresses, color and lightweight knits in cotton and blends are necessities. While at the show, she plans to hit staples including Lilly Pulitzer, Tommy Bahama, Vineyard Vines and Spanner, a Canadian line with colorful daytime looks retailing from $80 to $350.

"I also need statement-making necklaces, stacked bangles in mixed metals and novelty handbags," said Emmert.

Even though the New York shows focus more on his special occasion direction, Michael Weintraub, owner of Dressed Up! boutique in Tarzana, Calif., said he attends WWDMAGIC "religiously."

"I scan every booth like a laser beam for that one resource I would never find through any other avenue," said Weintraub. "The California lifestyle is so casual, I can sell many dresses or skirts from sportswear collections for daytime weddings, high school reunions and rehearsal dinners."

At the show, he plans to write dressy sportswear from Nic & Zoe, Mesmerize, Joseph Ribkoff, Cartise and A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz. Nonexistent five years ago, according to Weintraub, the niche accounts for a quarter of his current merchandise.

"Of course I still want to sell my client a formal dress, but I also want her to pick up a more casual, soft ensemble," he said, adding his open-to-buy shot up 15 percent from last year.Susan Lee, buyer for The Village Hat Shop, a specialty chain based in San Diego, said WWDMAGIC is her only opportunity to see every vendor in one place, as well as to synthesize apparel trends that translate to headwear.

"Seeing all that fashion, even if it's not my category, inspires me," she said of the only trade show she attends.

Since hats are trending, and celebrities like Britney Spears are pushing styles from newsboy caps to fedoras into the mainstream, Lee's open-to-buy has jumped 20 percent since last year. Planning to buy broader and deeper, she's looking for oversize, slouchy berets in crochet and knits with embellishment like pins or appliqués, trilbies in plaid and men's wear fabrics and fedoras in cloth or wool felt, some with trendy feathers. Must-have lines are Dorfman Pacific for basics like berets, Borsalino for straw panamas and driver caps and Betmar for fashion and dressy styles.

"This is an important buy because fall and winter bring out the fashionable hat wearers," she said.

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