NEVER A DULL MOMENT
MARKET OR NO MARKET, THE L.A. RETAIL SCENE FINDS A WAY TO KEEP THE BUZZ COMING.
Byline: Rose Apodaca Jones
As anyone who works in the fashion industry in Los Angeles and its outlying areas knows, activity isn’t relegated to market weeks. It’s year-round. Showrooms in the marts are busy writing orders in the months preceding and following market. Designers are staging events in boutiques and in clubs around town. The industry movers and shakers are getting together after hours to honor the community and their own.
Sustained applause greeted Macy’s West senior vice president Jacque Hall and Moss Adams managing partner Rob Greenspan as they accepted the National Jewish Medical and Research Center’s Apparel Industry Humanitarian of the Year award June 30 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. According to WWD manufacturing and textile editor Katherine Bowers, the event drew a crowd of apparel industry veterans and raised $282,000 for National Jewish, which focuses on respiratory, allergic and immune system diseases.
Revelers included Mitch Cohen of CIT/Tyco and wife, Liz; Ron Rotstein of Moss Adams; Sam Oyster of Edmund Kim Int. and wife, Sylvia; apparel lawyer Mark Brutzkus and wife, Beverly; Electra Casadei of Casadei and husband, Mike; Diane Trauth of Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit, and a contingent from Esprit that included Kristen Dill, Jill Koch and Sharal Chamisa.
New Mart owner Joyce Eisenberg has also been opening her pocketbook. Five scholarships in her name were granted at a small ceremony June 22 in the New Mart fashion theater. Frances Harder, executive director of the Fashion Business Incubator, presented five fashion college graduates with $600 scholarships. The monies will go toward business classes from the FBI and a year-long membership to the nonprofit business training and networking organization.
Scholarship recipients were Gina Marie Whiteley from Woodbury University, Julia Hebert from Otis College of Art & Design, Shweta Mehrotra from Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Frances Yu from California State College Los Angeles campus and Christina Cord from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
Good will of another kind was extended this summer when Mark and Emily Goldstein opened their Melrose Avenue boutique Emma Gold to a trio of rising stars. Koi Suwannagate of Koi is already gaining business from mentions in consumer fashion glossies for her chic tie-dyed knit tops, skirts and dresses.
The duo Josh and He Yang could possibly be the city’s best-kept secret. Their labor-intensive, stitch-happy textiles cut in modern shapes are the kinds of pieces fashion aficionados love to collect. Rebecca Rich rounded out the set with her colorfully bohemian scarf tops.
An onslaught of new boutiques and their parties have kept the staff, particularly retail editor Kristin Young and Eye editor Marcy Medina out most of these summer nights. Among the festive open-air events taking place over the summer was Vespa’s Hollywood “block party” June 24. The fashionable Italian scooter celebrated its arrival Stateside by taking over a chunk of Hollywood Boulevard and creating a “movie backlot” replete with a black Astroturf highway, Vespas showcased on Plexiglas and scaffolding platforms, and mint green couches with zebra-print pillows where hipsters like Donovan Leitch, Kirsty Hume, Rachel Hunter and Tori Spelling lounged.
The rumble continues in the downtown fashion district, but the dress code is painter’s white and caterpillar boots. Both marts and other buildings serving the industry are undergoing ambitious renovations. At CalifMart, crews are hard at work on a $1.2 million overhaul of the 13th floor, home to textile and swimwear companies. Once the dust settles, 45,000 on the floor’s B side will be converted to an open space for parties and trade shows.
“All of the walls are removed, so [the space] has this panoramic view. You can see the entire county from the ocean to the mountains,” CalMart spokeswoman Trish Moreno said.
If the 13th floor of this 14-story building will become the “penthouse,” its lobby level will be called the “Underground,” an edgier space with an industrial feel. The ceilings are being raised, the floors refinished and lighting reviewed.
The building is negotiating with new and existing trade shows to take space on the 13th floor or Underground.
Across the street, the no-vacancy New Mart is trying to squeeze extra capacity out of its third floor by gutting 22,000 square feet with a $100,000 renovation. The goal is to add space for 20 more booths at the growing contemporary trade show Designers & Agents — which, by the way, is introducing a new installment with this market.
The Cooper Building continues its metamorphosis from outlet retail to a design and production center for Los Angeles’s contemporary designers.
Steven Hirsh, the building’s manager, said he has installed four new high-speed elevators and is working on rehabilitating three of the building’s 11 floors.
The Los Angeles Apparel mart, located across Ninth street from CalMart, has served variously since 1917 as professional building, gathering space for textile and trim suppliers and warehouse space for importers. Building management has spent the past two years actively recruiting apparel manufacturers, who now occupy 90 percent of the building, according to manager Glenn Sitwell.
As part of an overall renovation, the building has spent $200,000 restoring showrooms on its second floors, distinguished by their vintage glass and hardwood windows. They are 60 percent occupied, Sitwell said, largely by men’s and women’s denim labels.