With the exception of swimwear, it wasn’t long ago when the thought of representing similar lines in the same showroom was considered redundant, if not a conflict of interest. Today, multiple-line showrooms — Collection 880, Studio 10 and Annie Egian, for example — are building their image based on a single look, age range, price point or market segment.
Their representatives argue that one-stop shopping is a lot more appealing to buyers than skipping around from a special occasion line to a suit line to a denim line. “Buyers want to shop fewer showrooms,” said Laurel Alweil of Collection 880, which represents four contemporary suit designers — Chatillon, Moschery, Impachettare and Saelee. “My customer is 25 and up, but she doesn’t have to wear suits with tie blouses anymore. Buyers don’t perceive these suit lines as competing; I bring out the subtle differences between each of them. And if a buyer asks me where to get an assortment of weekend wear, I’ll send her down the hall to my friend.”
Representatives are adding lines that complement each other, according to Annie Egian, who’s in charge of the junior/contemporary showroom by her own name. The room houses Petticoat Lane, Sjobeck and Tryst. “Sjobeck is very clean, showing more dresses and fewer funky denims than in the past,” she explained. “Tryst’s printed dresses are younger, but cross over into contemporary, and Petticoat is just unique. Buyers come to me for something different or a specific look. Vendors come to me with basics, and it just doesn’t work here. The direction the room has gone is very specialty-oriented.”
At Studio 10, vintage and recycled designs by Tarra, Mikell and Lianne Barnes are the theme of the showroom, targeting all the same retailers such as Fred Segal, Ron Ross, Rebel and Harrari, among others. “All three are local designers and manufacturers,” said showroom representative Sylvana Ganchev, “and we are known for having very romantic, very item-driven lines.”
The Army/Navy surplus items in the Mikell line, which include old German anoraks and redyed thermal underwear, still carry the original labels in them. Tops and bottoms from Tarra are sewn together from old tablecloths and antique silk scarves. And Lianne Barnes incorporates antique-dye laces in many pieces.