Dozens of Canadian firms are heading to WWDMAGIC to show off their wares and reap the benefits of their neighbor’s huge buying power.
This story first appeared in the February 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The U.S. and Canada are mighty neighborly, and apparel companies heading to Las Vegas this week are hoping to capitalize on that goodwill. More than 40 Canadian exhibitors — up from 23 last year — are coming to WWDMAGIC to access a growing export market that represents about $2 billion annually, or roughly 40 percent of Canada’s production, according to figures from the Ottawa-based Canadian Apparel Association.
“Canadians feel our market is larger than theirs ever could be, so they are all interested in U.S. distribution,” said a spokeswoman for MAGIC International, WWDMAGIC’s producer. “Our show is a fantastic networking forum, especially for smaller exhibitors without U.S. sales representation.”
The spokeswoman said Canadians will be exhibiting across all categories at WWDMAGIC, with a particular concentration in contemporary and better sportswear.
Hide Society of Canada, based in Toronto, is one of the companies that hopes to use its presence in the better area at WWDMAGIC as a platform for U.S. expansion. New fall looks in its 50-piece line of outerwear include details such as tassels, fringes, whipstitching and leather lacing, as well as layered skins and jungle-finish looks.
Also in the better sportswear category is Dino Gaspari, a Montreal-based outerwear line that takes its cues from current European trends. Owner Gisele Paul’s strategy has been to pare down the 200-piece line to just 50 styles that will have a wider appeal in the American market, such as lighter-weight and shorter coats. The collection includes styles in leather, cashmere, fur, tweed and new swakara-like velour.
Montreal’s fashion industry — a pastiche of North American and European styling — has always been a great resource for buyers seeking fresh looks. From this city come two lines that target the under-30 market — Lithium Manufacturing and Kitchen Orange — both of which will be showing on the contemporary floor.
For fall, first-time WWDMAGIC exhibitor Lithium Manufacturing will show its 60-piece women’s line of tops, bottoms, knits and accessories. At Kitchen Orange, a new design team has taken the fall line away from its clubwear roots to offer tops, bottoms, knits and outerwear in clean, modern lines with futuristic details such as exaggerated, fusing-backed collars and body-conscious fits in fabrics from fleece to cotton jersey.
For Toronto-based The People Have Spoken, exhibiting on the contemporary floor has helped connect it with a diverse U.S. clientele. The five-year-old, body-conscious line will be showing summer and fall looks in two groupings: a sporty group with street elements, and a more upscale line that does well in better sportswear stores. New looks for fall include a retro activewear-inspired group of separates and dresses in stretch suede and a three-quarter-length reversible coat with one side offering exposed, raw-edged seams.
Also from Toronto is House of Spy, which returns to the contemporary floor after a successful first appearance at last August’s WWDMAGIC. The midrange-priced, 30-piece line —which targets the 20- to 30-year-old market — includes a herringbone denim group of skirts, pants, dress and spring jacket; a fitted athletic group with piping and rib accents, and bodies in stretch fabrics, such as stretch sateen and poly-rayon-Lycra spandex knit.
First-time exhibitor Dish, based in Vancouver, hopes to hit the U.S. young contemporary market running with its 150-piece women’s line of denim, tops and knitwear. New for fall are a retro-sports group in velour, nylon and French terry; a detail-rich military group in fatigue colors splashed with gold, pink and baby blue, and a mod-punk group showing lots of black contrasted with red, fuchsia, white and yellow.
Canada is also home to many more-established suppliers known for delivering quality products with quick turnaround. One of these is Toronto-based Picadilly Fashions, which has built a successful business making medium-priced knit coordinates for the misses’ market. Showing in the better section are the line’s 200-plus pieces, including pants, skirts, tops and dresses made in fabrics such as velour, polyester-suede, poly-cotton interlock and a 17-ounce acetate-spandex knit.
Montreal’s Belgo Lux works directly with clients to develop junior belt lines that reflect up-to-the-minute trends in leather, vinyl and web in an array of color options. Current trends for summer include military and cargo looks, as well as butterfly motifs.
“We can turn goods much faster than other foreign suppliers, often in just two or three weeks,” said Tracy Schmidt, national sales manager for the U.S. “This means we can react to trends quickly, which is important in the junior market.”
Bob Kirke, executive director for the Canadian Apparel Association, is well versed at explaining the Canadians’ success in the American market.
“We shop the world for fabrics, we’re a little forward in terms of styling and we still make it here in Canada, which means we can offer great service with short lead times,” he said.