It was a fall 2014 Los Angeles Fashion Market that pulsated with something for everyone, reportedly drawing a steady stream of buyers from retailers such as Nordstrom, Kitson, H. Lorenzo, Ron Herman and Madison.
From shopping the showrooms at The Intersection to visiting trade shows running in conjunction with the event, including Select and footwear and accessories show Transit, both at the California Market Center; Designers & Agents at the New Mart, and Brand Assembly and Coeur at the Cooper Design Space, buyers were hoofing it as well as navigating the different blocks of dates for the events.
Overarching trends were hard to come by but a few themes resonated: mixed media, ath-leisure, new plaid interpretations along with details such as fringe and back interest. Though there weren’t any trends that were “earth-shattering,” the upbeat mood of the market was noticeable, said Fred Levine, founder of M. Fredric, which has nine locations in the Southern California area.
“It was amazing and busy…we were trying new lines, writing deeper and exploring new resources,” said Levine, noting that business is improving. “We’re moving in a positive direction. But very slowly. It’s not a miracle turnaround.”
To stay competitive, companies were touting their re-branded and reorganized strategies. In its 30th year, Conrad C recently revamped its line, creating more lifestyle, ageless clothing including drawstring track pants, fine-gauge sweaters and quilted vests. New York-based Cluny was in a pop-up showroom at the California Market Center, promoting its business that’s shifted from dresses into a full sportswear line with pieces ranging from silk cashmere dresses with silk floral prints to leather pleated skirts wholesale priced from $69 to $145. Quinn shifted from a knitwear company to a collection-based brand with nylon and cashmere dresses, liquid jersey sweaters and jacquard and leather pants.
“Knitwear is seasonal, so we needed to evolve to appeal to majors,” said Colin Bachner, cofounder of Quinn.
In terms of looks, multimedia styles were prevalent from sweaters in color-blocked pieces with crochet knits and zippers by Dex to fitted miniskirts in a checkered wool blend with white leather details by Milti Puce, a new women’s contemporary line out of Los Angeles.
Hardware was part of the mix, such as Genetic Denim’s plaid pants with zippers and a cropped denim jacket accented with zippers by French brand Raphaëlle H’Limi.
An abundance of ath-leisure styles and brands were in force for the lifestyle clothing segment. Popular sellers included Coin 1804’s waffle knits and oversize tunics with high-low hems and reverse seams, Simply You’s zip-up top and curved-hem skirt in sweatshirt fabrications and Sol Angeles’ French terry Nordic–style top with back fringe and indigo French terry with exaggerated cuffs.
“It’s about year-round clothes that are lightweight,” said Joey Miller, who represents Coin 1804 in the Gerry Building.
With fall on the horizon, jacket and sweater interest was strong with new spins, like Quinn’s cashmere Sherpa-styled coat. Garments went closure-free, such as Milti Puce’s oversize raw-edged coat. Flattering shapes were the hallmark of styles, including trapeze coats by Louie et Lucie, baseball jackets with faux leather trim by Sisters and Twenty’s 3-D blister jacquard top with faux leather trim.
West Coast and neighboring retailers were on the hunt for fall styles that weren’t East Coast-heavy. While ruby and cobalt blue were key colors, so were softer shades of mustard and key lime, as seen in a Dear Creatures mustard dress and modern-looking trenchcoat with a back bow. Traditional fall fabrics had lighter interpretations such as sheer chiffon dresses in houndstooth prints by BCBGeneration.
“We’re loving lightweight sweaters paired with loose bottoms,” said Grace Evans, co-owner of Hailee Grace in Denver.
Bold and novelty jewelry shined. By Lis offered metal cuffs customizable with patterned fabric strips. Oropopo’s laser-cut leather earrings, cuffs and twisted pendants were more about clean precision than rock ’n’ roll. Among other highlights were Gillian Julius’ silver tube multistrand bracelets with metallic threads and Theia Jewelry’s tassel necklaces and layered gold-plated note necklaces.
New shapes and fabrics guided handbag design. Daniella Lehavi was showcasing silver rollover clutches with aluminum effects, and Ramy Brook’s new handbag collection offered convertible cross-bodies with fringe and chain details.
Brands from Australia and Europe were making their debut, eager to get the stamp of approval from the U.S. Le Frenchlab and Fashion Forwards opened a joint showroom at the California Market Center showcasing French and other European lines, including denim brand Skylton, which recently opened a denim store in Sunset Plaza in Los Angeles, and wholesales distressed denim with high-rise backs at $49.
Australian brand Elliott Label was offering street-inspired women’s clothes, such as studded silk tanks, cropped lambskin tops with perforated leather and high-waisted skirts.
“About 40 percent of our online sales come from America, so we thought the time was right to come here,” said Kylie Gulliver, director and designer of Elliott Label, who plans to start producing clothes in Los Angeles.
At the same time, many lines like to promote their Made in the USA roots, as local sourcing momentum continues to grow. Some retailers said a brand’s production base could impact their decision in picking up the line.
“If we are choosing between two lines that are similar, we’re more apt to go for the local line,” said Corina Madilian, owner of Serafina boutique in San Marino, Calif.