PENS ARE BUSY AT BAT WOMAN SHOW
Byline: Kristi Ellis
LAS VEGAS — Buyers were active writing orders to round out their spring and summer inventories, and some early birds even began placing for fall at the BAT Woman show here last week.
Vendors reported business running from even to ahead of last year. The three-day show, whose name stands for Big and Tall Woman, ran through March 13 at the Tropicana Hotel and attracted about 250 buyers, according to Jeff Yunis, owner of Specialty Trade Shows, which produces the event. The turnout is usually from 200 to 300.
Some 140 exhibitors displayed their wares, a total of 300 plus-size and tall lines.
Retailer David Manning, owner of M’Ladye with one store in Los Angeles and one in Tarzana, Calif., said he was shopping plus-size lines for items. His main goal was to survey new lines, he said, but he noted that he had some open-to-buy for summer and early fall.
Manning said he placed an order for the Delta Burke dress line, which is licensed by Chez of California. The licensee made its first offering of the line to specialty stores at the BAT show and appeared to have one of the busiest exhibits at the event.
“The line is different and has a younger look, and the price points are moderate,” said Manning. Manning, who attended the show with his wife, Leah, said they also saw good prints and challis numbers from Germany, as well as fine crepes and polyester blends. The couple said they looked at Wild Rose and Good Depth, two lines they carry in the stores, and David Manning also cited MG, Kalama and blouses by Topnotch as lines he liked.
On a final note, the retailer said, “No matter how good the designs are, our customers are still buying for the prints.”
Idrea Lippman, an owner of Great Changes Boutique in Hollywood, Calif., said she had a $50,000 budget for the show, at which she writes 70 percent of her business. The store’s volume is about $1.1 million, and business continues to improve.
Lippman said she found new plus-size resources with whom she placed orders, including Cello and Rondissimo, a French line.
“Cello had incredible bias-cut skirts and blouses, and Rondissimo had a magnificent, feminine lingerie line,” said Lippman. “We carry everything from leather lingerie to exciting eveningwear, and if we don’t find it in the market, we make it ourselves,” she said, adding that she and partner Wendy Johnsen make their own bias-cut skirts, leather lingerie and bustiers.
The retailer said she buys from only about 10 percent of the lines at the show because most of the displayed styles have been “done over and over.”
Stu King, president and chief executive officer of Denver-based Ample Duds, with six boutiques (four in Colorado, one in Las Vegas and one in Albuquerque, N.M.), had placed more than 10 orders by the end of the second day. He and a team of store managers and buyers spread out and shopped the market with a total budget of $50,000 to $70,000.
“We’re trying to find more washable clothes in georgettes and microfibers,” said King.
Strong fall colors include jewel tones as well as red and black, while certain hues, such as yellows and golds, are hard to sell, he said.
King said he placed a substantial order with Chez California for the Delta Burke line.
At Chez California, Tandy Peterson, a principle who represents the Delta Burke line, said that it was a last-minute decision to attend the show and added that many of the other Burke licensees plan to attend the October edition.
By the beginning of the last day, Peterson said she had seen 50 to 75 buyers, most of whom left paper for at-once deliveries. She was showing goods that went from immediate delivery to early fall in styles ranging from denim to velvet and black tie and with wholesale prices ranging from $38 to $120.
Her biggest reorder number was a cotton and Lycra spandex outfit with a three-quarter-sleeved striped top with a solid black tie-back skirt. For fall, the line has a long-sleeved version of the outfit.
Kimberly Clark, sales manager of Bali Emerald, had seen about 40 accounts by the second day. Of those, about half wrote on the spot, she said. “We are not seeing humungous orders, but a lot of my buyers have paper to write and they will bring it on the last day,” said Clark.
Clark noted that while the March show is billed as being for fall, it still is too early for many buyers to commit and she was showing spring and some fall colors. The best-booking style at the show, she said, was a two-piece Battenburg lace with a full skirt. Light colors were popular, with ice pink particularly good.
Susan Fredrick, owner and designer of the company carrying her name, had seen about 54 accounts in the first two days and had booked $85,000 in orders. She said she mainly saw West Coast stores, which she missed in New York. Fredrick added that she was showing only spring and summer career and after-five.