LAS VEGAS — Retailers in search of more unusual fare had a buffet of shows — from MAGIC’s funky, hip-hop-inspired Streetwear section and The Edge’s punk- and goth-inspired looks to splinter events such as Pool and Project — big draws for contemporary boutique buyers.
One line that resembled caviar in a sea of ho-hum trout at the Streetwear show was i.am clothing by Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am. The collection, designed by the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising graduate, offered high-end pieces of wool men’s wear knickers with leather cuff and jackets with peplum pleats or wide leather belts and cuffs at wholesale prices of $180 to $590.
The line is set to launch next month at Mercedes Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles, with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas, said Emilio Caballero, the band’s vice president of marketing.
Russell Simmons, founder of Phat Farm, a division of Kellwood Co., dismissed notions that the urbanwear market was cooling. “Phat Farm and Baby Phat [the women’s line] grew 50 percent last year,” he said. “Urban isn’t slowing. It’s going through a transition and still remains a strong category at retail.”
Some vendors who had once shown at The Edge were at Streetwear. Beauty Fiend, a two-year-old, Los Angeles-based line that sells its punk-inspired fashions to stores such as Hot Topic, Alley and Delia’s was one such line.
“We were in The Edge last year, and it’s gotten more novelty,” said Beauty Fiend creative director Saira Doom. “But now we’ve all been on our feet the whole time writing orders nonstop.”
Lip Service, a punk- and fetish-inspired Los-Angeles-based line that still shows at The Edge, said the essence of the show had been lost, despite pulling in sales that were even with last year.
“I don’t feel like the MAGIC people know what they are doing,” said “Notorious’’ Bryn Thomas of Lip Service. “Like, why is there break dancing here, and what’s with the wall that separates us from the rest of the show?”
At the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Convention Center, the Pool show recruited several vendors wanting to cash in on the cachet of the smaller events as well as the money-making potential of MAGIC.
One such line was Charm and Luck, the Long Beach, Calif.-based bag manufacturer, whose metallic, rhinestone and crystal handbags have been seen swinging on the arms of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson.
“We’ve gotten a lot of overflow from MAGIC,” said designer Jenny Syquia, who said the Pool customer was choosing more distressed, edgier styles. “We’ve gotten about one-third of our orders from Pool.”
Six-month-old Antik denim, part of Paul Guez’s Blue Concept, was the buzz at the Project show, which made its debut in Las Vegas and shared space with the men’s apparel show, The West Coast Exclusive. Philippe Naouri, Antik’s designer and a former antique denim dealer, culls from his extensive collection of thousands of pieces of denim to add vintage details and intricate embroidery to the line, which wholesales for $89 to $200.
The company reached $10 million in sales last year and is projecting $30 million for 2005. It expects to reach $100 million by 2006. “I think companies like Liz Claiborne should take a look at buying us,” said the Marseille, France-born Naouri.