By  on February 14, 2005

Retailers gearing up to attend this season’s WWDMAGIC said they are going with a singular focus in mind: to uncover unusual lines that their competitors don’t carry.

“We always look for other vendors who don’t do other trade shows,” said Fraser Ross, owner of Kitson, the of-the-minute contemporary boutique on Los Angeles’ Robertson Boulevard. “Last year we found HiHo, one of our most profitable sweatshirt lines. But it was a juniors’ line.”

Indeed, many retailers said the real trick to successfully shopping MAGIC was a good pair of comfy shoes so they could walk the entire show. Their best finds, it turns out, came from areas they don’t usually shop.

“We’re looking for the bizarre, different, interesting and fun,” said Fred Levine, co-owner of M. Fredric, a contemporary women’s specialty store chain that operates 19 locations in Southern California. “[They’re] things that might not be categorized as contemporary, but we make it contemporary when we merchandise it in our store.”

Some of the items that Levine has been able to successfully integrate into the store include T-shirts from predominantly juniors’ resources John Deere and Harley-Davidson. And although these items might not serve as core merchandise, they often give the store its real flavor, said Levine.

“It’s really the fringes of your merchandise that have the most appeal,” he explained.

MAGIC public relations manager Ernae Mothershed said store owners such as Ross and Levine make up more than 60 percent of attendees who are crossover buyers shopping, for example, not only contemporary lines but tween and teen lines as well.

“Obviously they need something to distinguish themselves from their competitors,” said Mothershed. “And one of the overall things they come to find is new resources, whether that be new launches from an established line or brand-new resources. Many such companies are only going to show at MAGIC and use it as a launching pad.”

Celebrities, in particular, have chosen MAGIC as the venue to launch their lines, and that’s key for store owners such as Ross who have found enormous success not only through their celebrity clientele, but through selling products either created by or adored by celebs. 

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