RETAILER SPOTLIGHT
HELEN HWANG, OWNER, YELLOW, LOS ANGELES.

Where do you shop at the marts?
“Santisima is definitely very successful. They’re two guys that used to be with Richard Tyler, and they’re actually doing my wedding dress. I love their line at CalMart. I also work with L’Atelier, where I just bought Rosa Cha bikinis. Tracy Reese makes a lot of dresses and very feminine things. [Then there’s] Three Dot T-shirts and Bella Doll.
“A lot of my stuff is from New York and from smaller designers that aren’t represented — but I do get a lot of good stuff from both marts.”

Secret finds at CaliforniaMart and New Mart: “I find some secrets at CalMart, but if I say [what they are], they won’t be secrets anymore! I feel like I can find something that won’t be everywhere because CalMart is a little more spacious.”

Tried-and-true lines: “I have a line called St. Vincent. Pauline is another; she’s a Japanese designer represented by Hatch. She’s got great pants. I also carry Nanette Lepore.”

Current bestsellers: “Alice Roi is really hot, but I buy her in New York. I have a lot of L.A. designers that aren’t repped at the marts that are successful. I used to buy Daryl K — although they’ve just gone corporate. A lot of times, new designers can’t be found at the marts, but I still shop there to keep all my bases covered.”

Biggest challenge at the Mart: “Personally, I am lucky that I don’t have to go downtown. Most vendors come to me, which is nice. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make it down there. It’s so crowded, and I feel like there’s too much in one building.
“On the other hand, the convenient thing is that it’s all there, and both buildings are right across the street from the other. You can do one or two days and hit it all rather than scheduling a bunch of different appointments.”

Upcoming plans:
“I want to have a miniature department store. I recently went to my first gift show and picked up all these soaps and candles, which can hopefully be added to a mini cosmetics corner. I am also planning men’s, and we currently have lingerie, in addition to our clothes.
“I’m planning on adding European and Asian designers to make sure it stays fresh, still keeping that Asian Zen minimalist atmosphere.”