ATLANTA — Many men’s retailers attending the Cobb Show here said they got a short-term lift last month from early tax returns, Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl and even Mardi Gras. But they weren’t confident sales would stay up and have cut buying as much as 20 percent.
Exhibitors at the two-day show that ended Monday at the Cobb Galleria said a lot of retailers were having trouble paying bills or paying slowly, and some were just walking away and closing.
“It’s tough now; there are not a lot of lending resources to go to,” said Vanessa Vickers, national sales manager of A. Tiziano.
Nevertheless, exhibitors said they were pleased with results from the show, which offered 702 lines. Ed Hardy, which usually has several booths, was barely represented. However, Deborah Green, marketing manager of the Cobb Show, said 50 new lines were there. They included Aliaume, from R&B singer and songwriter Akon, which will launch in New York and other major cities in June. The European-inspired line — with sizes up to 44 — was presented here, but not sold.
Cross Hatch, an English brand targeted to boutiques, made its U.S. debut, along with No Excess, an Amsterdam-based line of men’s denim, accessories, wovens, sweaters and outerwear targeted to better boutiques. Orisue and Canadian brand PX also showed here for the first time. Other new exhibitors included Vigoss Jeans, which relaunched its brand at MAGIC with better fabrics and trims and a new designer; WT-02, the new high-end brand by South Pole that launched at MAGIC, and Taverniti So Jeans, a premium brand recently acquired by Headgear.
Retailers checked out these and other brands for immediate buys, as well as for fall. John Suh, buyer for Balboa Menswear in Atlanta, was looking at tops for fall, and said he liked Akoo and Parish. Suh said he has cut back on his buying by at least 20 percent, “but we did a decent job of selling our previous season’s goods.” He said Balboa’s has had to take deeper markdowns in this economy. “I have just had to find a markup that will sell. Profits are down. It’s just getting cash flow.”
Neil Rama, co-owner, Brite Creations, Atlanta, also reduced buying by at least 20 percent. “Business is up compared to last year, but last year was horrible,” he said. “February has been very good…but we’ll have to see how March does. You just have to be very cautious. Overall, the problem is getting the traffic. We’ve had to run more sales, and that hurts margins.”
He said he was buying denim in different washes and T-shirts from the hot-selling brands for immediate deliveries and for summer. Brands doing well for him include Akoo, A. Tiziano, and Cavi.
Joe Nadav, owner of City Blue, a 30-unit Philadelphia-based men’s and women’s apparel chain, was booking fashion denim jeans, woven tops in stripes, plaids and embroidered, and T-shirts primarily for spring, but was also checking out fall merchandise.
Nadav described his February business as “excellent,” thanks to tax refunds and Valentine’s Day. He said he expects March and April to be good months, too, as more tax refunds come in, but forecast sales would drop off after that.