Diversify seemed to be the modus operandi for several attendees at last week’s Capsule show at Skylight Clarkson Sq.
Soon-to-be Healthtabulous e-tailer Aubrey O’Hara captured that sentiment better than most as a QVC wardrobe stylist, personal trainer, fitness instructor, ballet teacher, and certified nutrition and health coach who plans to introduce her client base to activewear. Through a few years of offering online coaching and teaching in various health clubs and studios, the Fashion Institute of Technology grad is now combining her talents with Healthtabulous. In contact with 50 to 100 people on any given day, O’Hara said they often ask for recommendations about activewear.
Aiming to offer 10 brands online initially, she said leggings were at the top of her shopping list. Workout-friendly jewelry was something she hadn’t been familiar with until visiting Capsule. “It’s not cumbersome and it moves with your workout. You can still be in style and you don’t have to change out of it when you exercise,” O’Hara said.
Trinity Cross, founder of Field Day, an Oakland, Calif., Made label, was searching for American-made items for her store there called Field Day & Friends. In the four years that she has had her business, sales have improved “a little bit” from one year to the next. Relying on a good number of employees from Kaiser Permanente corporate office, as well as its Oakland Medical Center, has helped to create a loyal base of shoppers, she said. “We also have a younger crowd of people who really want to vote with their money by buying independently owned resources.”
With the Field Day store in the front and her design studio in the back of her Oakland space, Cross said the setup does more than allow her to multitask. Consumers like being able to see where the clothes are made. At Capsule, she picked up three new accounts at the show for her affordable Field Day collection, Cross said.
Representatives at Sorel were showing the brand’s outerwear including some faux fur styles. Wholesaling from about $121 to $375, the collection also features down and mixed fabric styles. New York regional sales rep Raul Pacheco said the Columbia Sportswear-owned label is sold at Lord & Taylor.
Another show resource Ty McBride, the founder of Intentionally Blank footwear, said retailers were favoring “minimal, easy, lazy” styles especially any kind of slip-on shoes. “It’s tough out there for retailers. New stuff is a stretch for them,” the Los Angeles business owner said though more clothing stores are open to carrying shoes. “People are really trying to get that head-to-toe ticket out-the-door.”
A New York transplant, he said West Coast commercial space is leagues more affordable than Brooklyn. Partially for that reason, he has developed an understated unisex collection of one-size clothing to sell to stores and in his Chinatown location. Wholesaling from $60 to $85, the styles include a jean jacket, a long dress and a hooded jacket. “I don’t identify as a designer. I identify as a stylist so I’m going into it with fluid easy shapes. That’s where the customer is now.”
China manufacturers are more willing to do small runs since some have lost production to India, Romania and Turkey, McBride said, adding that changing labor laws are another factor. “I don’t believe in minimums.” he said.
The Hong Kong-based Matter Matters Gallery saw interest in its mercerized wool and cashmere blend color-blocked sweaters especially a striped version with an image of a man wearing a ski hat. The $168 items are unisex, which has made them popular as gifts, according to founder and creative director Flora Leung. The company also showcased its Pop Art-style handbags including the Deco Saddle bag and the Half Moon style. The Museum of Modern Art’s Design store is the only U.S. Store to sell the accessories which wholesale for about $168, Leung said.