Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Buyers at the first edition of Look, the International Sportswear Show, said they liked its focus on women’s and men’s young contemporary merchandise, while vendors welcomed the chance to sell to new accounts.
The California Mart and the City of Los Angeles sponsored the show, which ran March 8-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as part of an effort to revitalize the downtown fashion district and lure the buyers back to town.
Featuring 197 companies representing 293 lines in 425 booths, the show attracted local and national retailers as well as buyers from 16 countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, Germany and South Korea.
Mart officials would not release figures on attendance, but they originally claimed 2,000 buyers had preregistered. Most vendors interviewed said they were satisfied by the turnout; some complained of slow traffic.
According to Sue Scheinmann, the Mart’s vice president of marketing and leasing, 50 percent of the buyers who attended wrote orders. She noted that the Mart also surveyed buyers each day as they registered. The results of the survey revealed that 83 percent of those who attended plan to attend the second show in October.
Buyers looked for fill-ins on spring and summer merchandise.
Wendy Red, an owner of Up Against the Wall, a 15-store chain based in Washington, said she placed 50 orders for women’s and men’s apparel as well as accessories.
Red said she was able to find a few new resources, one of which was Motor.
“I loved the colors and prints and the mix of Fifties and Sixties styles,” said Red, adding that flare bottoms in prints looked great.
Red also liked Tripp’s polyester low-rise, flared pants with snap-front fitted tops and halter tops in the same color scheme. And she placed an order with Rubber Soul, where she liked the fitted jackets, short skirts and flared jeans in glen plaid.
Red, who was shopping for spring and summer because most vendors weren’t ready to show fall, said her budget was up substantially.
“New Breed’s jumpsuits are going to be hot,” she predicted. The jumpsuits are in polyester, fitted and have flared legs.
Red was enthusiastic about the show’s debut.
“A show like this is so much easier to shop than a boutique show because there aren’t so many categories, and you can see the end of the tunnel,” she added.
Junior buyers from Nordstrom, attending the show to take notes on summer and fall lines, said they were looking for new prints. They also noted that color is important, including brights and pastels.
The owner of Square Pillow USA, with two stores in Honolulu, said she was shopping for summer and fall merchandise in prices ranging from $8 to $40.
“This year is more colorful, with more brights,” she said. The stores cater mainly to Japanese tourists, looking for trendy American merchandise.
She was placing her fourth order with Tag Rag for children’s wear. She had written three orders for a total of $4,000 on her first day.
“We usually sell tops, and we hardly place orders for bottoms,” she said, adding that crop tops, baby Ts and jackets with zipper treatments are big sellers.
For the most part, exhibitors — 55 percent of which were California-based — were supportive of the show.
Amanda Uprichard, owner of Living Doll, New York, said traffic was a little slow but said it would probably take two to three more shows to build the buyer base.
“I think this show is a totally necessary thing,” said Uprichard. “People have to give it a chance.”
Halfway through the second day, Uprichard had seen 10 accounts, which she said placed a total of $10,000 worth of orders.
“This show has paid for my costs already,” she noted, adding that she had also picked up two new accounts.
Uprichard, who was showing spring and summer, said her nylon rib tops in 10 colors, including brights, were a top seller.
Tag Rag saw buyers from Ohio, Indiana and Florida, as well as California, according to Celeste Boydstun, a West Coast sales rep.
Of the 100 accounts she saw, 75 percent wrote orders, said Boydstun, adding that Tag Rag also picked up about 20 accounts.
“People are here to write orders, and we have gotten a lot of paper here,” she added.
Bestsellers in the Tag Rag line, which showed mainly spring and summer but a little fall, were the athletic collection and a lot of nylon and zipper treatments. Also popular was streetwear — especially close-fitted styles with plenty of shine and metallics; bombers, and HotPants. One exhibitor, who requested anonymity, said she was “totally shocked, because I was looking for an amazing show.” She said that she had seen a lot of local buyers, but that things had been quiet during the first two days.
In an interview during the second day of the show, Maurice (Corky) Newman, president of the Mart, said he has an exhibitor waiting list of 100 names and will most likely move the show from its 50,000-square-foot home in the North Hall to the main floor of the Convention Center for Look’s second edition show in October.
He also noted that there are discussions of expanding the show to include updated contemporary. But Newman balked at the idea of adding any other categories, claiming he wants to “stay true to the original idea and not deviate from it.”

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