By and  on September 15, 2005

LOS ANGELES — The latest installment of ASR, the key trade expo for board sports, streetwear and swimwear at the San Diego Convention Center, proved the show hasn't lost its edge, despite the evolution of the action sports industry into a multibillion-dollar global force.

Seventies' California ruled trends: sunset shading and motifs, embroidered palm trees and florals on clothes and bags, crochet and beading on dress straps, T-shirts and accessories.

As retailers wrote orders during the three-day event last week or mingled with their reps — a significant amount of business is written by sales reps before the show even happens — bonus activities abounded. Session offered free tattoos on the spot, Roxy provided the materials to bead jewelry and Transformed Clothing Co. gave haircuts to the daring with a Flowbee, the vacuum-looking device sold on late-night infomercials.

Beneath the festivity, a tectonic shift that began a year ago continued to affect the look of the show and reshape the surf and skate landscape after a wave of mergers.

"It's been very busy and the pace of the show is indicative of how good the category is," said Dick Baker, chief executive officer of Op, which is now owned by Warnaco Group. "There's so much more fashion in all the surf product."

ASR show director Kevin Flanagan said, "We can't see the end of surf. It's so strong, we just can't see the top to that trend and juniors continues to be an expanding market in our industry, [which is] fueling the growth."

He said about 500 retailers attended the twice-a-year show, a 10 percent increase compared with last year, and there were about 100 new exhibitors.

Op, which last year converted from a licensing model to an operating model, delivered more feminine silhouettes and more vintage screen prints and logos unearthed from their archives. Spring 2006 represents the first collection done in-house since the conversion.

Creative director Lucy Love and owner Holly Sharp said while the shift toward more feminine, fashion-forward looks was definitely happening, her customer wasn't going completely girly. Sharp said she did well with what she called "chopped dresses," which are short dresses that work well over jeans.

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