NEW YORK — It was a record-breaking season at the Fame and Moda Manhattan trade shows.
Produced by Business Journals Inc., the shows, which ran alongside AccessoriesTheShow, ended a three-day run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here on Tuesday. Although rising gas prices were on the minds of e-tailers and vendors, this was a season for the record books. Fame showcased more than 800 lines, and Moda Manhattan had 350 lines on display, the most ever for both shows. There also were more than 8,000 buyers walking the floors by the end of Monday, the show’s second day. That was also a record for the May market.
“As far as exhibitors go, Fame is up 15 percent and Moda is up 22 percent over last May,” said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals. “We literally cannot fit one more booth at Moda.”
Jones said he was surprised by the turnout, considering that May is usually a small market and that higher gas prices are beginning to take a toll on businesses.
“Retail was quite good in April, which was pretty surprising,” Jones said. “And it does cost more to fill up your tank than it did a year ago, but it seems that buyers are still shopping, which is great.”
Rebecca Kim, owner of Ithaca Clothing Co., a contemporary sportswear store in Ithaca, N.Y., said she has been fortunate to see good numbers despite the gas prices.
“The majority of our customers are college students at Cornell and at Ithaca College,” she explained, “so many of them walk to the store, which means that the high price of gas isn’t even an issue for them. But overall, I do think this is an issue that affects everyone and we should all be aware of what can happen.”
Kim said she was at Fame on the lookout for “going-out tops that our sorority girls love.” Kim said she likes shopping Fame and tries to come each season.
Jean Mercier, account executive at Berek, a knitwear line based here, said she is concerned about the gas prices, and if they rise more, she may be forced to raise her own prices. She said that as gas prices rise, shipping companies have raised their fuel surcharges.
“I am really doing everything I can to keep the prices down,” she said. “For now, I am just absorbing the surcharges and splitting some with my retailers in order to maintain my prices.”
Mercier said that because many items on the line are heavily embellished, they are heavy pieces to ship, which contributes to surcharges. But she said her time at Moda Manhattan had been worth the trip.
“We are doing very well with our embellished denim jackets and knits with crochet, lace and sequin accents,” she said of the line, which ranges from $59 to $99 wholesale.
“We are looking for romantic, feminine clothes,” said Robin Watson, a buyer at Front Page, a Fairfield, Conn., boutique. “Our customers love Whitewash, which is the line we came here for. They are based in South Carolina, so this is our chance to see them. They have beautiful pieces, but we will also walk the show to look for more lines.”
Watson said that she comes into the city on a regular basis for trade shows and makes sure to visit Intermezzo, which ended last week. “We come to Moda for our fill-in pieces, after Intermezzo,” she said.
Annie Van Harlingen, designer at Charleston, S.C., contemporary sportswear company S.H.A.G., was helping Watson find a few good pieces.
“We’ve been doing very well with jewel-tone items and vintage-inspired pieces,” she said of the line, which wholesales from $22 to $98.
Back at Fame, Steven Bian, director of sales for Bravo New York, based in Los Angeles, was at the show with two cashmere lines, the Color Mustard, which is already selling well at Henri Bendel and Searle, and a new line, Bravo New York.
“I think my lines may be too expensive for this show, so I won’t do too much business here,” Bian said. “But I am here to meet with my Chicago stores, which is the reason to be here for me.”
Bian said that he has been doing well with a variety of styles, like a long sweater jacket in winter white, charcoal, oatmeal and black. He is also selling cableknit cardigans and tunic-like styles. The lines wholesale from $79 to $179.
At Young Essence, a Dallas contemporary-looking misses’ line, Jaime Martin, a sales representative, said she was having a busy show, booking printed kimono-inspired tops, Audrey Hepburn-inspired jackets and stretch lace dresses.
“We have a very generous fit; our large is for a size 14, which is pretty rare in the market,” Martin explained. “We are doing very well with novelty items.”
The Young Essence line wholesales from $19.50 to $65.