New Tactics

Vendors old and new launch lines at WWDMAGIC in a bid to attract customers.

View Slideshow
Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD MAGIC issue 08/25/2008

This month, both veteran and new exhibitors are using WWDMAGIC to launch new looks and lines, and trying to woo buyers with precious time to make their rounds.

This story first appeared in the August 25, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“WWDMAGIC is one of the biggest and best for West Coast and international exposure. [Exhibiting] is kind of a no-brainer,” said Devin Hajek, owner of first-time vendor Tea Stain Clothing, based in Folsom, Calif. He walked the February show and was impressed with the foot traffic. “We expect to interact with a lot of potential buyers and really get some market spread.”

Now in 27 boutiques in 11 states, the company’s print tops, accessories and hoodies for men, women and juniors feature simple tonal designs. “We’re the complete opposite of the rhinestone, full-print product that’s been dominating the market the last five to seven years,” said Hajek, adding that the most recent catalogue is called Fashion Rehab for that reason. “It’s time to go to fashion rehab, and when you come out, you’ll wear Tea Stain Clothing.”

The core collection includes screen-printed T-shirts in tank, crew and V-neck styles, as well as dressier henley and thermal styles. Wholesale price points range from $17 to $25.

On the morning of the first day of WWDMAGIC, the company will pull the curtain up on its new top called Princess, whose sale will raise money for the Children’s Hunger Fund. A three-quarter-sleeve boatneck casual shirt, Princess has a deep purple base featuring a lighter purple print of a princess. “We hope to generate some excitement and raise some money for the cause,” Hajek said.

At WWDMAGIC, Hajek also hopes to attract some small boutique chains as buyers, and expects to add at least 20 customers. “We’d like to find that chain that has about five to 10 stores,” he said. “That’s a good fit for us.”

Just about anything can fit in Perfect Pouches and Packs, part of In the Clutch Bags, a new accessories exhibitor from Malden Bridge, N.Y. The pouches and packs, made of a polyester-Lycra blend, come in various prints and sizes ranging from a 5-by-7-inch pouch that wholesales for $9 to a 14-by-14-inch backpack for $20 at wholesale. All are lightweight and feature drawstrings with satin cords. The pouches can be used inside another handbag or as their own purse, said co-owner Allison Marchese.

“You can fill the backpack with 20 pounds,” she said. “It is really versatile and so much more fashionable than what is on the market now for backpacks.”

Customers have so appreciated the fabric that they have asked to wear it, said co-owner Susan Simonson. So the duo created Perfect PouchWear, which will make its debut at WWDMAGIC. Made of the same material as the bags, each piece of PouchWear — which includes dresses, tanks and tops in different prints — folds down to the size of a wallet. “It’s fashionable clothing right from the suitcase — you just pop it out and wear it,” said Simonson. “It’s functional but it also looks great.”

Wholesale prices for Perfect PouchWear range from $12 to about $100, which fits a variety of sellers, said Marchese, including boutiques, college bookstores, resort gift shops, gyms and larger chain stores. She and Simonson are using WWDMAGIC to find those customers, she said.

“We wanted to be at one of the prime shows of the year, where we could be in front of the largest number of buyers that represent the places we think our clothes should appear,” Marchese said.

WWDMAGIC veteran Laurence Kaplan, president of Soda Blu, has seen the show get larger and larger over the years, mainly in exhibitors. Though he’s slightly concerned about the show being a day shorter this time, he expects to bring the same number of account executives and sign at least 200 buyers, including re-signing current customers.

“We’ve done every show, so people know us. If you have a great line and you just show up, you’ll do OK and attract some business,” Kaplan said. The key to WWDMAGIC is taking care of the customer between shows, he added. “You’ll be rewarded with them coming back.”

At WWDMAGIC, Kaplan will showcase the company’s new styles, especially in dresses, which include both silk and satin; strapless looks; new sleeve styles and zipper treatments, and new closures and lengths. “There’s a lot of fresh detail we’ll be presenting,” he said. Dresses wholesale from $40 to $60.

Customers who visit Soda Blu might want to add Switch It by Nan to their accessories list, as this line of handbags and organizers is for a similar kind of fresh customer, said account executive Cheryl Pfrimmer. “Nan designs timeless bags along with trendy ones,” she said. “She’s classic herself, and that reflects in the designs.”

Switch It by Nan, based in Colleyville, Tex., includes a line of handbags and a line of organizers to go within them, said Pfrimmer. The handbags sell at wholesale from $55 to $110, and the organizers from $18 to $23.

Switch It by Nan will launch its signature bag at WWDMAGIC, the Allure: a soft leather handbag in a silver python metallic scheme with a drawstring and pockets all around it, said Pfrimmer. The same style, which will wholesale for $85, also will come in a bronze patent crocodile color. “It’s like the hot bag,” she added. “It reaches all ages and that’s hard to do in this industry.”

Its other handbag debut is the Gotta Go Bag, a large black bag in lamb’s leather, trimmed in black patent with silver studs. “It’s a nice size for the girl who likes the bigger handbag,” Pfrimmer said, adding that, in the spring, Nan will design a diaper bag version.

Pfrimmer looks forward to reaching new customers — those looking for something different — at WWDMAGIC, she said. “We think we’ll make a huge impact there,” she added. “It’s one of the best shows around.”

View Slideshow