By  on August 29, 2005

Increasing year-round business and the continued crossover of swim- and beachwear into sportswear are just some of the key factors affecting the burgeoning resort market now. While swimwear companies are optimistic about a rebound from the bad weather in key vacation destinations last year, resortwear companies also are concentrating on growing their businesses across the country. Several of the 71 vendors exhibiting at WWDMAGIC weighed in on the business climate in the once-fair-weather category.

Glenn Nelson, president of For Her Body, a Tampa, Fla.-based distributor for Thai swimwear line Raquel Raquel, Spanish resortwear line Elena Lardi and Australian swimwear line Aztec Rose, said he is optimistic about the upcoming season. 

“I think the swim buyers at independent stores are looking for product not found in the majors because, with the consolidation of major stores, the independent is realizing they can’t compete and they need to offer more,” he said.

But he noted specialty store business for swim is faring better than department stores because products there aren’t subject to the early markdowns.

“What is making the swim business difficult is the necessity of the major players to maintain high gross margins, therefore marking goods down before we even get into season. If you are a big [brand], the only way you can survive is to sell to these stores, but they are getting killed,” he said. “I do not believe that there is reason to mark goods down before July 4. If you look at what’s going on today weather-wise, where New York City is hotter than Florida, there’s no reason to put wool coats on the floor in August.”

Mary Goudie, general manager of apparel for the Irvine, Calif.-based retail marketing firm BDS Marketing, noted swim is a quick-turn category with a limited window to sell in some parts of the country. “Ultimately, these stores want to sell full-priced goods, but there is so little time to do that, and if you can’t, you mark it down so it’s not left on the floor.” Goudie’s company deploys sales specialists to stores to get inventory on the floor right away, and then to make sure it sells in the designated window.

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