SAN DIEGO - The action sports industry sought to present fresh ideas at the ASR Trade Expo as surf and skate brands wooed cautious buyers with novelty and ventured into new categories, such as activewear.
During the three-day show at the San Diego Convention Center that ended Saturday, Quiksilver and Vans displayed swim lines launching for spring.
Quiksilver's young contemporary swimwear premiered with six styles accented with yarn-dyed stripes and buttons. Wholesaling from $38 to $44, the line is targeted mostly to fashion boutiques.
Vans, the Cypress, Calif.-based skate brand owned by VF Corp., unveiled three bikini styles, sold separately at $15 apiece. Seeking to meet retailers' needs for value-added items, the most popular look was a reversible halter set with yellow and turquoise checks on one side and solid turquoise on the other.
Roxy, the junior brand owned by Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Quiksilver, revealed that it will jump into the activewear market in March, when the first delivery of Roxy Athletix is slated for the summer selling season. Set to retail for less than $100, Roxy Athletix aims to add a feminine touch to athleticism in the way Stella McCartney did in her collaboration with Adidas.
Also new to ASR was City of Commerce, Calif.-based Golden State, the young contemporary line launched in May by Rampage founder Larry Hansel. Golden State found an audience for bohemian-chic looks, such as a $25 blouse stitched together from a magenta-tinted rayon-blend body and a netting top appliquéd with floral patches. "we¹re bringing fashion to the surf market," said Hansel, seeking to hit $10 million in wholesale sales in the first year. But the lagging economy dominated decision making.
For example, Matix, a clothing brand owned by Podium Distribution in Torrance, Calif., skipped ASR for the first time since the brand was established in 1998. Because Matix¹s deadline for taking spring orders had expired on Aug. 29, Podium Distribution decided to save money and exhibit in the January show instead.
The brands that did attend were confronted with merchants worried about the market's health. "The economy is a big-time concern for us, and it's definitely affecting the way we¹re buying, and the number of orders we will write," said Marilyn Spatz of the newly opened Movement Skate Shop in Los Angeles' West Valley.
Drew Mearns, owner of Anti Gravity skate park and store in Williamsburg, Va., said times are tough. "I'm looking around and trying to weigh the options before deciding" whether to place orders, he said.
Novelty was key. Hurley tested retailers' budgets with rayon-Modal Ts and tanks wholesaling for as much as $19 to $23. "Some people are willing to pay for quality," said Jenna Woodhull, director of merchandising at Nike-owned Hurley, based in Costa Mesa, Calif.
After several seasons of dresses' dominance at retail, skirts began making a comeback for spring. Vendors from Lost Enterprises to Reef to Roxy doubled - or even tripled - the number of skirts for spring from a year ago. Befitting teen customers, hemlines hovered above the knee. Hurley cut ribbed cotton into a $21 high-waisted tube miniskirt accentuated with a visible zipper running down the back. Roxy offered versatility with a $24 cotton voile skirt featuring a smocked waistband that allows the piece to be worn as a skirt or strapless dress.
Vendors piled on details to stand out from competitors, especially as buyers sought statement pieces. One tactic was to mix and match materials. Reef, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based surf brand owned by VF, integrated an ikat-print knit tank body with an embroidered racer back glittering in metallic thread and a bold star print, all for $20 at wholesale.
Buyers urged action sports brands to lower prices.
"They want all the bells and whistles, but they want it cheaper than before," said Lindsay Henkels, who manages sales and marketing for Lost's juniors business in Irvine, Calif.
Many designers continued their infatuation with bright colors, such as Eighties-influenced neon. While purple was carried over from the fall palette, yellow shone for spring. In swimwear, pinks, oranges and greens were typical of the neon palette, and Body Glove supplemented its 2009 lineup of solids with those colors.
However, Ezekiel, Insight and Quiksilver¹s young contemporary lines opted for muted colors. Ezekiel used men¹s shirting material for a $22 sleeveless shirtdress whose red and blue stripes were washed down. Insight spruced up chambray in a $32.50 racer-back dress with striped trim.
In denim, junior brands took their cues from the premium denim market. Roxy and DC Shoes, which is also owned by Quiksilver, offered bleached denim and boyfriend jeans. Fox moved the allover print from tops to bottoms, plastering leopard spots and zebra stripes in tonal hues on denim miniskirts and shorts.
The numerous swimwear launches continued at ASR for spring. In addition to Quiksilver and Vans, Zoo York, Few, Latitude 10, Vitamin A Silver and Hurley Premium joined the club.
Across brands, reversibility was a key theme. Vitamin A Silver, which retails for about $110 compared with Vitamin A's core brand, which costs from $160 to $180, and Latitude 10, a line aimed at female surfers desiring style and function, both kicked off with all reversible suits. And swimwear stalwarts such as Roxy, Hurley, Raisins, Reef and Salinas promoted reversibility as a key selling point. "Especially in this economy, you want something you can get a lot of mileage out of," said Beatriz Camacho, Salinas' sales and marketing assistant.
Swimsuit fashions drew upon visual art. Zoo York's initial collection, retailing for nearly $40 apiece, featured a Jackson Pollack-inspired collage print, for instance. Radio Fiji stood out with a suit awash in watercolor, and splatter, graffiti or paintbrush prints were prevalent at Hurley, Billabong, Raisins, Insight, Roxy and A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz.
Swimwear also emphasized femininity. Ruffles ran from subtle at Billabong to all-encompassing at Raisins to oversize at Salinas. Restrained rhinestones showed up at Rampage. "Low bling is starting to come back," said Howard Greller, president of Apparel Ventures Inc.'s Blue Water Design Group, which makes A.B.S. swimwear under license.
In terms of silhouettes, triangles, halters, hipsters and tie sides stayed on top of the bikini heap. However, Hot Tuna, Raisins, Quiksilver and Body Glove introduced underwire that they contended could gain popularity in future seasons. One-pieces were already making headway. At Insight, which sells swimwear to Urban Outfitters and Diane's, girls have been wearing the cutout one-pieces on the town with pants or shorts, said national sales coordinator Megan Nakazawa.
Accessories pushed the fashion envelope. Fox added multicolor pyramid studs to white totes and clutches, Split used faux alligator patent and Roxy boasted that Macy's just started carrying its fall limited edition accessories collection, which for spring includes a vinyl hobo with contrast piping wholesaling for $35.
Nervous about resistance to higher-priced accessories in an action sports market characterized by bags retailing for less than $50, some vendors pulled back from leather. Fox, a champion of the expensive skin in recent seasons, exhibited a spring accessories collection without it. Dakine, which had offered a style with leather touches in the past, opted for canvas this time to reduce the retail price by about 23 percent to $50.
A few brands plowed ahead with leather bags, however. Alpinestars highlighted a suede clutch with pyramid studs, Hurley displayed cracked leather styles, and Nixon's leather bowler and tote were front and center at the accessories brand's booth. "In our market, the more premium accessories are harder to sell," admitted Mia Enriquez, Nixon's public relations and advertising coordinator. "But years ago, people said you can't sell a $125 watch, and now they want a $1,600 watch."
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye