Refining the Presentation in Los Angeles

California Market Center focuses on global buyers and Made in USA trend.

The California Market Center is home to many marts and shows.

LOS ANGELES — Improvement and innovation rather than expansion are the main focus at the Los Angeles market trade shows held at the downtown garment district’s California Market Center.

This story first appeared in the December 12, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The complex, which houses apparel, accessories and gift showrooms, as well as exhibition space and a theater, organizes five fashion markets a year, and a majors market and the Los Angeles International Textile Show twice a year. Concurrent with the fashion markets are three temporary shows: Selects for contemporary sportswear, Transit for shoes and Focus for emerging designers.

“We aren’t so much expanding them, as we are bettering them to accommodate our audience every way we can,” said Joanne Lee, senior vice president of CMC events.

One aim is to grow the presence in international brands at these temporary fairs, so the CMC is working with a Japanese company that helps launch Asian brands in the U.S.

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For the Textile Show, scheduling late in the trade show season has caused conflicts for some buyers when the Los Angeles show overlaps with others abroad. The exhibition has historically taken place in March or April and September or October, but next year will move up to Feb. 25 to 27, with a fall date to be announced. There, buyers will see a bigger emphasis on Made in USA products with signage to help designers find domestically produced fabrics.

In the home and gift sector, CMC will add a new biannual event called View to run concurrently with the existing markets in January and July. The event will take place in the 13th floor penthouse with about 50 exhibitors featuring a mix of gifts, decor, edible and kids. There will also be a Made in USA section.

Tenancy has grown significantly in the CMC’s home and gift area, which take up multiple floors in its C wing. The center also plans to announce several new women’s apparel tenants next year. The men’s section on the fourth-floor B wing, called Area 4, will also begin to host special events next year such as buyer mixers and designer installations.

As far as social media and new technology, CMC continues to refine its initiatives, said Alyson Bender, who handles the center’s marketing and social media.

“We’re seeing that some platforms are becoming stronger than others, so we’re utilizing them to inform our buyers of date changes, events, seminars, previews and spotlights. It’s a great way to connect with our audience,” Bender said of the weekly e-blasts, blog and Twitter feed. The center also uses Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Off-site, CMC is procuring more aggressive rates with downtown hotels and offering free shuttle service to make travel to the shows easier for buyers.

Just south of Los Angeles in Long Beach, the Agenda trade show, specializing in men’s and women’s streetwear, surf and swim, has nearly doubled in size from its last edition in August to its upcoming show Jan. 4 and 5 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

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The show has evolved over a decade from a smaller alternative to the now-defunct Action Sports Retailer show in San Diego to a more dominant presence in the street, skate and surf arena.

“Agenda is a disruption model,” said founder and president Aaron Levant. “When the economy was going down, we grew like crazy because ASR was failing and [the streetwear presence at] MAGIC was shrinking. We were the alternative people were going to at the time.”

Levant noted that the show has since increased its number of brands, the cost to exhibit and attend show and the number of attendees.” Over 12,000 attendees came to the August show.

Agenda is also ramping up its women’s sportswear and swim offerings, aiming to debut a women’s swim section by the end of 2013. Already, more boutique-driven women’s brands and women’s-only swim brands have exhibited at the show, in addition to a growing premium denim presence. The August show featured a premium contemporary section that Levant intentionally left unnamed, but signified with raw wood paneling instead of the regular booth walls.

Levant said, “We’re not just a men’s focused marketplace anymore.”