OFF PRICE

This year marked the 20th show for Off Price, and it was a record-breaker with attendance of 12,000, an increase of about 600 buyers.“The smaller retailers are catching on to increase their bottom line,” said Carole Fitzmaurice, the show’s director. “People who never knew what Off Price was before.”

Bill Jage, chief executive officer for Off Price, said the show brings in retailers ranging from Ross, Family Dollar and Value City to mom-and-pop stores, and that most of the growth is coming from women’s specialty shops — particularly small-town, semirural family units or Western-wear stores.

“They come because what do you do when the big-box stores come into town,” said Jage. “And we’ve done a lot to nurture the small store through education.”

Some of the key concepts that Off Price communicated to customers at seminars were that it’s OK to bargain with customers; know what to sell the goods for, and get over the concept of picking your colors and sizes, because many of the bulk discounts come from prepackaged orders. — Michelle Dalton Tyree

ASAP, ETC.

The Las Vegas Hilton Convention Center was the site of the ASAP Global Sourcing Show, International Apparel Show and IWE Show.

ASAP tallied 250 exhibiting factories and manufacturers from more than 40 countries, including China, India and Pakistan, on par with last August, said Frank Yuan, chief executive officer of show organizer Cyber Merchants Exchange. Vendors such as Ningbo Kelter Apparel Enterprises from China and PSD from India said they established contacts with smaller U.S. manufacturers and retailers, many of which were seeking to enhance their supply chains in preparation of the end of textile and apparel quotas on Jan. 1. Competing against China and the expectation of lower prices is daunting for rival countries.

“We’ve had to lower our prices from $7.50 a garment down to $5.50 to compete,” said Ramesh Arora, director of PSD, an Indian manufacturer of easy-fitting, embellished dresses.

ASAP is also seeking to benefit from the end of quotas. It will add another show next year by participating at the Material World textile and sourcing event at the Miami Beach Convention Center in March to provide sourcing options to the South American market.

This story first appeared in the September 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

At the International Apparel Show, which focuses on discounted goods, Nassiri, a closeout exhibitor representing six lines including Enyce, Ecko and Polo, said business was strong, with buyers seeking outerwear in coats and sweaters. Sherry Holt, the designer for Western-inspired sportswear line Desert Diva, said sales were brisk for flouncy skirts and silk Western shirts at her booth at the IWE Show in its new address. — Nola Sarkisian-Miller

WWIN

Buyers attending the WomensWear in Nevada (WWIN) misses’ trade show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino said they appreciated the lightness and whimsy that infused the fashions.

“We’re seeing a lot of fun items that we haven’t seen before,” said Nancy Alegret, owner of Sabuku Boutique in Tuscon, Ariz. Alegret bought washable linen tops and skirts with lace inserts from Two Star Dog and kimono-styled jackets crafted with antique fabrics from Five Colours Earth.

Capris, ponchos and skirts were must-haves for Diane Workman, co-owner of Cobble Creek in Twin Falls, Idaho, who picked up David Brooks sportswear. Dresses were also on the list, but proved elusive.

“We continue to have a difficult time finding good dress companies,” Workman said. “Everything is mother-of-the-bride or too casual.”

Taking its cue from the contemporary market, denim displayed a younger attitude in its jackets with pink lining by Daniel K, and pants cuffed in Hawaiian floral prints by 3 Sisters. A good complement to the looks were shrunken jackets, such as the solid-colored styles with contrast piping and oversize plastic buttons from F.L. Malik, and tweed and bouclé pieces by Zoe.

Show organizer Jeff Yunis said the sold-out event, which has a waiting list of 75 exhibitors, had 650 booths representing 1,500 lines. It will grow by 50 percent to 120,000 square feet next August, when the Rio’s expansion is completed by May. — N.S.M.

POOL

Pool went from kiddie-size to Olympic proportions in its fourth year, with almost 400 exhibitors spreading their wings in expanded booths at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. As always, printed T-shirts and cotton knit tops were the main draw, but this year there were also more contemporary handbag and women’s apparel resources.

“We always do this show to see what’s directional,” said Macy’s West buyer Dina Khalid. “No doubt the blazer will be big, as well as vintage, classics with a raw edge, patchwork and placement prints. I’ve found about four brand new lines with validity.”

There were far more buyers from specialty stores like Envy in Atlanta, where Tanya Tomlinson said she was looking for funky corsets and other items for “our girl, who’s a lot like Beyoncé or J.Lo.” Added Luke Winter of Trucker in Chico, Calif., “With the edge downsized, this show smokes MAGIC.” — Marcy Medina

ISAM

The International Sportswear and Activewear Market, in its fourth venue in as many years, continued to be a destination for swim buyers, even though the Caesar’s Palace events center was out of the way for most. “I come here to see known names like Hot Kiss, even though I did most of my buys at the Miami Swim Show,” said Sherri Wheeler of Hobie Sports in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. “It’s good to firm up decisions and see what’s new.” Trends included ruffles, skirted bottoms, lime green, coral and bandeaux.

While some vendors defected in favor of MAGIC and WWDMAGIC, several new lines debuted, including Kushcush, Nautigirl, Flor Brasil and Abigail Lebay. There was markedly less traffic than at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but show organizer Barbara Brady said, “Some people didn’t do their homework and make appointments. Those that did are happy.” — M.M.