PACIFIC CHAMPIONS: INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Buyers at the semi-annual Pacific Champions show, held March 30 through April 2 at the CaliforniaMart, wanted novelty fur, leather and denim — and they wanted the pieces immediately.
“Out of all regions, [Los Angeles area retailers] buy the closest to season,” noted Brad Boonshaft, a sales representative for New York-based contemporary label Helen Wang. Boonshaft said 75 percent of his orders were placed for delivery within the next two months.
“I had heard in Dallas [buyers were not leaving lots of orders], so I had trepidation before coming [to the show],” said Boonshaft. “But in Los Angeles, they were fervent and energetic about writing. They just wanted everything as close to season as possible.”
The mix of exhibitors reflected fashions’ current fancy: a multiplicity of leather, accessories and T-shirt resources drew better-specialty store buyers. Although vendors characterized the traffic overall as “light”, most reported that they had opened several new accounts.
“Fall market is not typically as busy as spring, but we thought traffic was pretty good,” said show executive director Elyse Kroll, who said roughly 1,000 buyers attended. Kroll added that she plans to expand, possibly to the CaliforniaMart’s market mezzanine or 13th floor.
Independent sales rep Arnie Winick opened 35 new accounts for London-based designer Peter Golding’s sportswear, which makes its American debut for fall. Golding’s topaz-studded, side-slit denim pants, priced at $62, and a sequined Union Jack-motif T-shirt in rust, gold and brown sold well, Winick said.
Winick added that black denim — both ultra dark and vintage rinsed — is piquing interest.
The Wrights, a New York-based young designer label produced by twin sisters, said several stores picked up $290 leather pants printed with pinstripes. The twins, Angela and Sharon Wright, who started with punched leather looks three years ago, said they now feel strongly about leather embossed in winding florals, a la Arts & Crafts designer William Morris.
At the Helen Wang booth, a touch of leather did the trick for buyers. Leather trimmed plaid trousers at $123 and a 16-inch miniskirt with an inverted pleat sold particularly well, Boonshaft said.
Leather designer Alexander Za, who recently moved west after 12 years in New York, said he has been pleased by the reception his accessories and outerwear has had.
“I can’t believe I was missing this market for so long,” Zar said.
He said customers in his three Los Angeles area stores are more conscious of matching shoes and bags. Cloth bags with leather trim and retro doctor’s bag silhouettes were top sellers at the show.