Byline: Laura Hsieh

LOS ANGELES — Bad timing and bad weather made for two slow markets last week when the California Mart hosted the International Swimwear and Activewear Market (ISAM) Preview 1996 and Endless Summer — its second summer fashion week.
With Endless Summer, a quickly planned general show, mart officials had hoped to capture retailers who had stayed away from the rain-deluged area — and the January market — a month ago. Unfortunately, the combination of more rains and a competing show hampered both markets anyway. The concurrent three-day markets ran through Feb. 15.
The 11th and 13th floors that housed the bulk of ISAM showrooms were generally quiet throughout the run. In all, 78 lines were on exhibit.
ISAM director Barbara Brady cited several reasons for the sparse attendance.
“The season is pretty much finished, so not many people do ISAM Preview,” she said. Brady also cited the Action Sports Retailer show that was going on at the same time in San Diego and pulling a number of junior vendors who have swimwear.
One of the showrooms at the Mart seeing ISAM action, though, was Beach Patrol. Among retailers shopping the space was Mano Piamenta, owner of Laguna Beachwear in Laguna Beach, Calif., viewing all three of the vendor’s preview lines: Baja Blue, Daffy Water Wear and Tango Rose. Piamenta was particularly taken with the fabrics.
Shopping average price points of $30 to $45 wholesale, he sought mostly two-piece suits for May delivery.
Sandy Summer, co-owner of Swim In — nine stores in Washington and Oregon, with the flagship store in Redmond, Wash. — shopped the market with her buyer and daughter, Teani. The firm’s newest stores are in Spokane and Portland, Wash., and next month a unit opens in Puyallup, Wash.
With same-store budgets even with a year ago, the duo looked for brights and pastels at $20 to $45 wholesale to freshen up their current stock.
“We’ve gone so long with dark colors like eggplant,” Sandy Summer said.
Kathleen Mudd, owner of Canyon Beachwear with four locations here, was also looking for “color newness…pastels and neons, no more earth and jewel tones.”
“I think color is going to be more important than texture,” Mudd said. In search of suits at $22 to $40 wholesale, she reported an increased buying budget, but would not specify the percentage change.
“It’s better than last year, but last year, we had the earthquake,” she said. “I’m hopeful.”
Shopping for her San Diego store, Pilar’s Beachwear, owner Pilar Jensen looked for “suits with low-cut backs because they’re good for tans” and “fabrics that fit, stretch and wear well.” She shopped with buyer Mindy Owens for price points up to $60 wholesale.
Pilar’s sales are slightly better than this time last year, Owens said, thanks to a recent heat wave and an improving local economy. However, Jensen kept her budget flat. Because of little newness at market, she planned to leave paper for only four lines out of the many the store carries.
Meanwhile, the Endless Summer was highlighted by an opening-evening cocktail party complete with a jazz disc jockey and a choreographed junior sportswear runway show that attracted about 150 people to the mart’s Fashion Theater. Otherwise, action was on the slim side.
“We never intended this to be a large show, since we planned it in three weeks,” said Joan Berk, California Mart’s retail relations director. She wouldn’t discuss specific buyer registration numbers, but said buyers from several of the area’s large retailers showed up.
“I think we accomplished what we attempted. And we will continue with these party-style events during future markets.”