Byline: Kristi Ellis

SAN DIEGO — The halter tops, tank tops and board shorts of spring made a smooth transition with new twists into the summer lines on display at the Action Sports Retailer Show here last week.
Buyers came to the show armed with slightly larger budgets, in line with the business in their stores. Added details on the backs of board shorts and other bottoms, such as rainbow stitching, caught their attention, as did varied necklines, including keyholes and Vs, on halters and tanks. Boot-cut pants, flares and hip-huggers all made their way into summer lines in toned-down silhouettes. On the swimwear front, two-piece boy-cut suits in retro Hawaiian prints and boy-cut tanks were everywhere.
The three-day show ran through last Thursday at the Long Beach Convention Center.
According to the show’s management, the event attracted 6,801 U.S. and international buyers from 4,124 stores and featured 750 exhibitors in 1,550 booths, compared with 739 exhibitors in 1,542 booths last year. Overall attendance was 16,159, down from 17,444 last year.
Among the retailers shopping the show, Thomas Siffermann, chief executive officer of TS Sports, based in Temecula, Calif., said his budget for women’s and men’s apparel was $250,000, about 15 percent higher than a year ago, reflecting a similar increase in his business last year. The company has two Coral Shores stores in California — in Carlsbad and Mission Viejo — and two in Colorado — Littleton and Westminster — and one store called Life’s a Beach in Temecula.
Shopping wholesale prices ranging from $20 to $50, Sifferman said his junior stores did well with tanks and halters for spring, which will carry over into summer. He also expects board shorts, particularly black satin, to do well.
Sifferman said retro looks in new colors such as limes and oranges will be strong for summer as well as athletic-influenced lines. Although camouflage turned up in many lines at the show, Sifferman said his customers “wouldn’t get into it.”
His two biggest women’s lines are Roxy by Quiksilver and Girl Star. Taking in Roxy’s hourly fashion show, Sifferman noted Ts, tanks and board shorts and bottoms with a stitched rainbow on the back topped his Roxy order list.
Another retailer at the Roxy show, Judi Hertzog, managing partner of Mammoth Sporting Goods and Volcano Clothing Co., both in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., said she was shopping for two distinct customer groups — baby boomers and generation X’ers.
“I’m my own competitor,” said Hertzog, referring to the two stores, which are across the street from each other. “Volume has been up and this has been a strong year — but not my strongest ever,” Hertzog said.
Hertzog said she liked Psycho’s “cute” daisy-print dresses and short shorts, MCFD’s summer dresses and several items from Roxy.
“I can pick from all of Quiksilver’s lines for both of my stores, because there is a big crossover,” Hertzog said.
During the Roxy show, Hertzog said she liked the khaki cargo shorts and matching two-pocket, short-sleeve tops, the T-shirts, several tank tops, rainbow stitch shorts, board shorts in Hawaiian prints, halter dresses, rainbow print ribbed Lycra blend tops and matching boy-leg shorts and the orange and lime colors, which she called “excellent and a tone down from neon.”
She said that her Volcano customers — the younger juniors — prefer tanks over halters and the layered look because temperatures in Mammoth Lakes are cool in the summer.
“Even in the summer they wear dresses with sweaters,” she said, adding that knitwear from Union Bay was on her list of buys. Hertzog said she also bought mid-thigh length skirts and dresses.
She also bought Roxy swimwear and liked the two-pieces with boy-cut bottoms for her customers who play a lot of volleyball.
Kasey Nuyen and Dan Hendricks, buyers for the two Wish stores in the Atlanta area, said that fabrics were a key element in their shopping at the show.
“Sheers are important for summer and any fabrics that have a lot of good colors and give are also very important,”said Nuyen, citing Lycra blends in particular. Nuyen said they were at the show to pick up new resources. One standout, she said, was Hourglass, which had simple silhouettes such as camisoles, slim pants and dresses.
“They are very lace-concentrated,” Nuyen said of Hourglass. “I saw sheer stretch lace and zigzag lace in whites and turquoise.”
The Wish stores draw junior crowds to their stores with deejay booths, fashion shows and pre-show parties. The rave scene has had a big impact on fashion in the area, creating a demand for more athletic-inspired looks, Nuyen said, noting high tech fabrics in synthetics are important.
“We have trouble selling cotton,” Hendricks added.
“What is missing in the junior market,” Nuyen said, “is sports-inspired lines that are a little more techie.”
Nuyen said Girl Star is a good resource for bottoms with boot-cuts, hip-huggers and low-risers. “If anything our girls are still demanding flares not just boot-legs,” she said.
As for their budget, Hendricks said it’s bigger this year because the second store recently opened.
Lesley Comer, a buyer for Cayucos Surf Co. based in Cayucos, Calif., said she liked Roxy’s slim fit, slight boot-leg pants and retro floral Hawaiian inspired prints. Another standout was Girl Star for its dresses and tops.
Comer noted she is banking on boot-cuts again as well as the rainbow stitches on the backs of pants. “We have to talk girls back into wearing them, but it’s flattering,” Comer said.
Comer said she was just taking notes and planned to place later. The store, which opened over the Labor Day weekend, posted strong sales and its owners are expanding from 400 square feet to about 1,200 square feet this summer, she noted..
Several exhibitors reported active shows. For example, Molly Pugh, a sales representative for Roxy by Quiksilver, noted the booth saw over 100 accounts, most of which wrote because the line had a summer deadline of Feb. 14.
Gina Kohler, national sales manager of Tag Rag, said business was steady, adding that she had seen a lot of majors. “Buyers are more optimistic and they are leaving more paper on the spot than in the past,” she said.

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