NEW PLANS AT THE NEW MART
Byline: Kristi Ellis
LOS ANGELES — For the first time since it converted into a wholesale apparel showroom building, the New Mart is standing-room-only. So, it’s turning its focus to niche shows and a newly launched Web site.
“We’re fully leased, so our focus will now be on additional uses for the fashion theater and exhibition hall,” said Ethan Eller, general manager of the New Mart. The New Mart is also counting on its new Web site for added exposure.
Located at the corner of Ninth and Los Angeles Streets, the New Mart houses 90 showrooms with 700 resources. It is home to many of the city’s hottest young designers, including William B, Jenisa Washington, Rozae Nichols, Trina Turk and Anna Huling as well as New York designers Daryl K., Katayone Adeli, Cynthia Rowley and Rebecca Danenberg. Contemporary collections include Theory, Three Dots and Custo Barcelona.
The New Mart recently expanded its exhibition space on the third floor to 15,000 square feet from 10,000. The space opened last year and is home to the New York-based Designers & Agents show, a better contemporary/young designer women’s sportswear and accessories show of sales agents and designers from New York and Europe.
Ed Mandelbaum, a founder of D&A, said he plans to take the show — which includes many permanent New Mart tenants — to Paris next October.
Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer, the New Mart’s president, said the organization has leased the 250-seat fashion theater to Fashion Business Incubator, a non-profit group dedicated to young designers, for forums.
The new Web site, which was launched in December at newmart.net, lists every resource in the building and fully cross references them by category.
“We are out of [building] space but we have an infinite amount of space on the Internet,” said Eller, adding that he foresees creating virtual booths on the Internet.
Eller said that the New Mart has leased a total of 50,000 square feet over the past six months and has a waiting list.
Dedicated in 1929, the 350,000-square-foot structure was the city’s first high-rise — at 12 stories. From the Sixties until the early Eighties, the building was a manufacturing and shipping facility for the apparel industry until Ben and Joyce Eisenberg purchased it from Sidney Morse, then president of the CaliforniaMart, and a New York investment firm.
The Eisenbergs began converting the building into a wholesale mart and the project was completed in 1987, a year after Ben Eisenberg died.
CalMart: Niche Marketing
LOS ANGELES — The CaliforniaMart, which had a record year in attendance at its various shows, will focus on expanding its niche shows in the first half of the year.
“It has been exciting because we have seen consistent sellouts for our niche shows,” said Susan Scheimann, president and chief executive of the Mart.
Among the successful niche shows is the “Contemporary Design Collection on 5A,” which Mart officials created in April. It is a new 6,000-square-foot area for temporary contemporary resources on the fifth floor.
During the April market, the showroom housed 16 exhibitors, including Rebecca Danenberg, Red Tape, Parasuco, J.P. Mattie and A. Gold E.
“These are high caliber, exciting designers, and we have an opportunity to move them into their own showrooms or place them with reps in the building,” said Scheimann.
Another show that has been successful since its inception is the Los Angeles International Textile Show, which is held twice a year and draws about 350 exhibitors.
The textile show has always had an international contingent, but the Mart cranked it up a notch in November when it introduced a group of 10 Italian mills showing under the Texitalia umbrella. Among the mills showing for the first time were Gamma Seta, Cuomo, Idealtex, Picchi and Teseo.
Attendance at the October textile show reached a high that hadn’t been seen since the show was introduced in 1995.
“We had key representatives from Karen Kane, Tommy Hilfiger and CK,” said a Mart spokeswoman.
The CaliforniaMart entered into an exclusive agreement with ENK International last year to host a new trade show twice a year featuring spring and fall fashion.
The New York producer of such trade shows as Fashion Coterie, Accessorie Circuit and Intermezzo Collections, ENK’s Pacific Champions show at the CaliforniaMart features approximately 50 exhibitors representing contemporary, bridge and accessories lines.
Show organizers called the November ENK show a “turning point” in terms of strong attendance.
The conversion of temporary exhibitors to permanent showrooms is high, according to the spokeswoman. In fact, November’s Look Fast Forward show was much smaller because many of that show’s exhibitors took permanent showrooms in the Mart. Last year, Look filled 49 temporary showrooms with 80 lines. This year, it filled 20 showrooms with 25 exhibitors.
The Mart’s shoe show, which is held four times a year, posted a 15 percent increase in attendance, according to the spokeswoman. Approximately 125 exhibitors participate in the show, which includes Hype, Chinese Laundry, Kenneth Cole, Bisou-Bisou and Esprit.
The International Swimwear & Activewear market, also known as ISAM, is held three times a year. The exhibitor base, which includes Jantzen, Anne Cole, Ralph Lauren, Speedo, Roxy by Quiksilver, Mossimo and Body Glove, grew 15 percent this year.
At the October spring market, which pulls in the majors and includes ISAM and the junior/contemporary categories, attendance grew 20 percent.
“The trade show environment will continue next year with key areas showing growth,” Scheimann said. During the year, the CaliforniaMart had a total of 2,000 temporary exhibitors, excluding the ENK Pacific Champions show.
Among the smaller niche shows — intimate apparel, kids and gifts and accessories — the combined temporary base ranges between 50 and 75 a year.