BUYERS AT L.A. SHOW GROUSE ABOUT CHANGE IN SCHEDULE
Byline: Kim-Van Dang
LOS ANGELES — The earlier timing of the Los Angeles International Textile Show at the California Mart here this week has a lot of buyers grumbling.
The three-day show, being held in January instead of April for the first time, ends today.
While the timing was satisfactory for some buyers, many others said the show was too late to shop for fall 1995 fabrics and too early to find an ample selection of spring 1996 goods.
The sold-out fifth edition of the show, co-sponsored by the Mart and the Textile Association of Los Angeles (TALA), featured 321 exhibitors of fabrics, trimmings, machinery and related services. As of Tuesday afternoon, due to a computer malfunction, official attendance figures were still not available. Many exhibitors said while traffic was slow on Monday, by Tuesday at noon, it had increased substantially. Overall, they said, buyer traffic looked to be about the same as the last show, held in October.
“This show usually picks up on the second and third day,” said Ruth McKeown, Mart director of markets and trade shows.
Many exhibitors attributed the low turnout initially to a strong storm system that hit Southern California Sunday evening, while some even blamed the decrease on the distraction of the O.J. Simpson trial.
As feared, the peso’s devaluation was also proving to be a negative factor. Mexican buyers made up about one-third of the 300 international buyers at last October’s show. Exhibitors said Mexican buyer traffic looks to be down substantially this time.
The show’s earlier dates — heavily promoted by participating members of the New York-based Textile Distributors Association — were helpful for a handful of designers in search of fall sample yardage for immediate delivery, or, to get an early glance at spring 1996 fashion fabrics.
Still, many buyers felt the dates were in-between seasons. Having left paper for the bulk of their fall goods already, many buyers said they came simply to satisfy their curiosity and place fill-in orders.
“My European fabric people are showing spring 1996 now,” said Janet Howard, designer of Misc., a contemporary sportswear supplier here. “We’re done with fall. We’re here to make sure we didn’t miss anything and to order some buttons and zippers.”
Howard, along with co-owner Sherri Rosen, shopped for fabrics at up to $30 a yard. They did manage to find some newness at the show, such as a leather-like two-way stretch fabric from Paulith USA Inc., Vernon, Calif. Howard and Rosen also selected a group of stretch taffetas from Paulith.
Biya Ramar, designer and owner of Rated R, another Los Angeles contemporary sportswear manufacturer, had also already placed her fall fabric orders with European mills. “I’m here to look for some shirting fabrics and lightweight fabrics in rayon and rayon blends,” Ramar said. “This show is too, too late. A lot of people here are still showing summer goods.”
Shopping for fabric in the $6 to $10 a yard range, Ramar said she was partial to dark colors: brown, black and gray. Her fall offerings, she said, will be semi-structured and solid colors will be offset by men’s wear stripes, velvet jacquards and some shiny fabrics.
Jill Sherwood and Patti O’Brien, merchandiser and designer respectively of Fritzi California, San Francisco, said, however, they had no problems with the show’s timing. In charge of Fritzi’s girl’s sportswear and dress lines, My Michelle and You Babes, the two shopped for fabrics in the $3 to $5 a yard range.
Rayons, novelty knits such as jacquards and stripes were high on their lists, as were novelty yarn-dyed denims. With a budget increase of nearly 10 percent, the pair also sought men’s wear looks such as herringbone and plaids. Their fall story consisted of berry, hunter green and navy.
To determine the dates of the next show, representatives from the Mart, Tala and TDA met here Tuesday and decided a survey would be sent to every buyer and every exhibitor that ever participated in any of the show’s five editions. They will be asked which of two dates, either Sept. 18-20 or Oct. 23-25, they prefer.
“The TDA would like to have the September dates,” said Bruce Roberts, executive director of the TDA.