LAS VEGAS — Move fast or get swallowed by the competition.
The Vegas trade shows continue to serve as the industry’s mirror, showing the continued increase in pace at which manufacturers and buyers are being tasked to keep their assortments fresh. Many of the same business trends noted the past several seasons continue to persist: competition has only gotten fiercer, more and more brands are showing immediates with Vegas reflecting a mix of spring and fall inventory and young contemporary’s maturation beyond simply “juniors.” Meanwhile, many buyers rejoiced the move in August to unify WWDMagic, Project and their sister trade shows under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Edgar Reyes, brand director for the Los Angeles labels English Factory and Endless Rose, trailed off mid-sentence as he was walking through the two lines showing at WWDMagic as he apologized, “Sorry, I’m just looking out because I’m trying to catch the girls that want to come in here and take pictures.”
Copying, to be clear, is not something new. It just persists.
“It’s a big deal for me because they’re from the lower price points and they’re actually affecting our businesses,” he said. “In order for them to produce, they have to manufacture at least 5,000 units so they’ll go sell it to meet that price point.”
“There’s a lot more competition,” said Aaron Zoref, owner of the label Q&A and veteran within the young contemporary space. “Everyone and their cousin basically is trying to knock each other off.”
That’s why Q&A aims to differentiate with its proprietary prints.
Buyers, meanwhile, were more scattered than ever this season across the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay convention centers, downtown for the Agenda and Liberty trade shows, Sands Convention Center for off-price and women’s wear in Nevada at the Rio Hotel and Convention Center. It made the announcement of WWDMagic, Project and their sister shows sharing the Las Vegas Convention Center in August a welcome move for some.
Lauren Godwin, a senior buyer at ModCloth, said, “This will streamline all the shows and more people will be able to see more vendors since they will be housed under one venue.”
Godwin said she walked FN Platform, WWDMagic, Curve and Project, focusing predominantly on footwear and picking up on the animal prints, western influences and chunky bottoms on boots.
“I was very excited to hear that the shows are unifying under one roof,” FabFitFun e-commerce merchandising manager Geena Massara said. “For buyers like me who are looking for specific categories, such as home and beauty, in addition to overarching fashion trends, being able to tackle the show more strategically is key to success.”
Massara made her way to Project Womens, WWDMagic and Pooltradeshow this season noting the mixed textures such as leather and fur, personalization in home and beauty products and the integration of lounge into everyday outfits.
Across the trade show floors, forest greens was big, alongside vintage-inspired tiny floral prints, coveralls and corduroy in soft pastels.
Here, a look at the brands that made a splash or marked their debut at the women’s shows.
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: Laurel Canyon and a little bit of Julianne Moore provided the inspiration for dRA (pronounced “dray) fall 2019. Think golden hour and the season’s color palette comes into full view: muted tones, burnt orange and deep greens.
“We’re still true to the brand [for fall 2019]. We’re made in L.A. so our heart and soul is that casual cool vibe, but we like to say we have a Parisian attitude where it’s very effortless,” said dRA associate designer Vlada Ruggiero. “I think you see a lot more of that this season with the sophistication and the elevated pieces, which is how we feel Laurel Canyon is.”
The line, started by Diana Ra, likes to mix polished lines with vintage-inspired delicate prints and neutral colorways, the latter of which there’s a bit more of for fall, Ruggiero said.
“We still have our favorite artisanal elements in there,” Ruggiero said. “We love our novelty fabrics and textures.”
The company, now about six years old, has been a favorite among influencers and sold in retailers such as the online shops for Revolve, Planet Blue, Shopbop and Anthropologie, in addition to boutiques in several states.
Key Pieces: A two-tone faux fur coat in deep green and camel, mustard and green plaid top, chunky cropped knit tops, vintage floral print top ruffle detailing and a floral print belted trench.
Prices: The faux fur coat is $218, printed trench $268, plaid top $142 and the vintage-inspired floral print tops run $128 for a short sleeve and $142 for a long sleeve.
Show: The Tents
Backstory: Sol Angeles is now going on year eight. Yet, the Hollywood-based company has largely been quiet when it comes to chatting itself up in the media. It’s privately held and self-funded, with its team focused mostly on keeping their heads down and growing the business.
The company, which is soon set to open a store at its headquarters, maintains a California aesthetic across seasons.
“Our logo is three waves and the Spanish word for sun was, coincidentally, [when] flipped [the word] ‘los,’” said founder and owner Eli Myers. “I didn’t want our brand to be something that was too cool for school, so having a name like that makes it mild and playful. And I wanted a logo that was a design we could have on a ton of graphic Ts, but it looks like a dressed up graphic T.”
The idea behind the line is to make casual, comfortable clothing but take it up a notch, Myers said. As he put it, it’s more “surf chic” rather than “surf bro.”
“We started it when I was 28 and I was just leaving that phase of life where you’re wearing graphic Ts a lot and I kind of felt the need to be moderately respectful and tone it down,” he said. “Every year we further knuckle in to what we’re doing and who we are as a brand. It’s very buy-now-wear-now, easy California.”
What that translated into for fall in the women’s collection are the thermals and graphic Ts that are the company’s bread and butter for the season, this time around making use of plenty of foil elements. A ski capsule includes a Sol Angeles fair Isle print pajama set done in the company’s colorways of muted red, white and blue.
Key Pieces: Basics persist in the lineup with the company’s easy dresses, T-shirts and zip-up hoodies. Standout pieces include the Sol Angeles take on the cheetah and leopard prints seen across the Vegas trade show floors, by using the company’s branded colors. There’s also a corded French terry in a short-sleeve mock neck top or jumpsuit. “It’s yummy, cozy, dressed up and it reads denim,” said Heela Hadad, vice president of operations of the corded French terry pieces. “You get all of the dimension from the dye process and wear it with little boots and look dressed up.”
Prices: The corded French terry jumpsuit is $128, leopard-print bomber is $138.
Doyenne the Label
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: With more and more labels concentrating on offering the market focused lines of essential wardrobe pieces, Doyenne proves there’s certainly room for one more with its take on silk staples. Sisters Aysha and Emily Woffard have skillfully managed to create a label based around 100 percent silk pieces that are less fussy and more utilitarian in their wearability.
Use of silk, while pricier than use of other fabrics is still competitively priced, the sisters said. “We’re trying to keep it very reasonable as much as we can,” Aysha said.
The company’s hero piece is the silk slipdress, which Aysha wore with sneakers and a denim jacket on one day of the Vegas trade shows, while Emily was photographed in the company’s lookbook donning open-toe mules for a dressier look showing the versatility of the item. The idea being their pieces would work just as well in Kauai, where the label is headquartered and where Aysha moved to after high school to take up photography and surfing, or New York, where Emily attended New York University to study art and film.
The self-funded business, less than a year old, is slowly beginning to expand its sizing, adding an XS to its lineup just recently with plans to continue expanding the range as the business grows, Emily said. It’s also seen requests for custom pieces increase, with the company currently doing work for a bridal party.
They’re doing all this as they remain focused on being a sustainable brand, hence their use of silk, with companies such as Patagonia a North Star for their business.
“Our core value is focused on sustainability,” Emily said. “One of the reasons we work with natural fibers is because they’re biodegradable. We’re just really focused on going plastic free in the next couple years and doing everything we can to minimize water use, minimize chemicals and take the baby steps. Part of that is creating garments that are not going to end up in the landfill in two or three years. I could have this [shirt] in my closet for 10 years and not feel like it’s going out of style.”
Doyenne is available through its online shop in addition to boutiques in Hawaii, where the company is based, as well as Seattle and California.
Key Pieces: This is one edited line to begin with, but the silk slipdress has been a buyer favorite. New for the label is a silk tank with rouleau straps and side darts, double lined for a nice drape. A cream button down shirt can be dressed up or down.
Prices: Silk slipdress $220, midi slit dress with belted waist and side slit $350, minidress $180, bias-cut slip skirt $190, lounge pants $240, capris $220, button-down boyfriend blouse $230, tank $175
A La Plage Collection
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: A La Plage Collection may have just launched in January, but the line’s already seeing momentum. Wholesale accounts include Neiman Marcus, Revolve and Free People, with Nordstrom recently picking up the line. The brand draws inspiration from travel, but does not box itself into solely pieces for packing.
“It’s not just for traveling,” said Dalia Shporer, as she pointed to her own outfit in Vegas: a dramatic print caftan with lace insets which she said she would pair with skinny jeans and high heels to go out in West Hollywood.
“I can’t be outfitting all the time,” she continued, “so I’ll wear pieces like this in every day life. It’s more of a lifestyle brand. It’s not just to pack, but [travel] is the inspiration.”
The company’s assortment is broad with dresses, jumpers, rompers, pants and matching tops. They’re big on prints, but done in their own proprietary designs with subtle details Shporer said add dimension. Examples of that include the shadow striping with a print on top to give the fabrication texture, gray chiffon taping on one dress, animal prints with pops of neon and embroidered jacquard silk.
“We try to keep it as interesting as possible,” Shporer said of the company’s fabrications.
The line is also aimed at a diverse demographic, made as much for a 25-year-old as it is for a 50-year-old.
“Myself and the owner of the line, we both travel a lot. We go to Europe, Australia, the Middle East and we are very inspired by how chic women are when they’re traveling,” she said. “They’re able to put together key amazing items for the beach club and still be able to go to dinner. It’s not just jean shorts and [a white tank].”
Key Pieces: A La Plage Collection’s dresses draw attention, including a yellow wrap dress with a slip underneath and pretty ruffle. The assortment of animal print with the neon elements — in a dress, pant and top — were also popular among buyers in Vegas.
Prices: Dresses $148 to $298 and tops $98 to $198.
Threads of Prvlg
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: Knitwear with some edge best sums up Threads of Prvlg (pronounced “privilege”). Where sister line Minnie Rose is mostly tried-and-true basics, Threads of Privilege is the louder sister brand and the knit version of a graphic T-shirt company.
The brand aspires to be a more luxe version of streetwear, while also tapping a new customer that gets the company into a different base than what the Minnie Rose label attracts.
“Threads of Prvlg was inspired by the bright colors and loud graphics of the streetwear labels I saw when shopping with my son,” the label’s owner Lisa Shaller said. “We have our built-in customer and cult following for Minnie Rose, and we wanted to create a label for the next generation.”
The cashmere range has dabbled in everything from spray pant to stars and striping, with thematic ties to racing stripes video games and tennis. There’s even cashmere biker shorts with stripe detailing on the sides. The colors are bold primary colors, in addition to neon.
Key Pieces: A cashmere sweater with arm cutouts and lion print on the front, cashmere sweaters with neon striping and track jacket with matching pant.
Prices: Bottoms range from $298 to $420, sweaters $308 to $539, hoodies $295 to $495 and accessories $200 to $400.
8 Other Reasons
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: Charles Lichaa had grown tired of architecture, so he turned to a different kind of design work.
“I was in interior design and architecture and I hated it so I started doing buying and then saved up enough money, designed a collection and came and did Vegas by myself,” said Lichaa, the founder of Australian accessories brand 8 Other Reasons. “Our first big, big order was Nasty Gal and that’s how we got our feet off the ground. This is the 5th year we’ve been doing these shows.”
Lichaa said 8 Other Reasons officially launched in 2010, although didn’t fully get off the ground until 2014. Some of the company’s pieces have since been seen on Kylie Jenner and wholesale accounts include Revolve, Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom with an assortment going from jewelry and hair accessories to handbags and scarves at opening price points for the categories.
The goal is to continue branching out and expanding, although continued growth may come under new brands, Lichaa said.
“We started doing tech and we want to go on to do hats and other apparel, but I think it needs to come under different brands because when you try and broaden, you lose your brand DNA,” he said. “So I would like to create other brands. We’ve diversified the product for what it can be, but then I think it’s important to also make the brands stand alone.”
Key Pieces: Hair accessories were hot in Vegas, including scrunchies and barrettes.
“The hair category’s definitely been a standout for the whole show,” Lichaa said. “Hair in general is a category that’s come back for us. It’s touching on that 90s vibe that’s evident across fashion, but the good thing with hair is it’s fun because it spans from the youth all the way to the mature bracket.”
Prices: Nothing in the line retails for more than $80. The leather goods go from $22 to $135.
Backstory: Dickies Girl has a strong story to tell with heritage brands and work-inspired trends still going strong.
The line, created by the licensee for the young contemporary juniors line under the well known brand, is already known for its reinterpretation of the men’s versions of the classic work wear pieces for the younger market. The company also continues to refine its fashion twists on heritage Dickies product.
The business is 60 percent core, classic pieces and the rest fashion. That should change to 50/50 by the end of the year, according to creative director Paula Unger.
The company recently introduced new Flex work pants to provide better stretch and recovery after parsing through feedback from customers.
“I read through 1,200 comments on Amazon of our best selling pants,” Unger said. “Some of the things they asked for was more stretch. A big thing they wanted to make sure of was the pockets were big enough for their cell phones. We also did a contour waist band.”
The Dickies Girl customer is between about 15 and 25 with crop tops hot and stretch a big facet of reinterpreting the classics for the customer.
“I always try to put the red [Dickies] label because the young girls really recognize it and I think they’re looking for brands that are relevant with the heritage brand resurgence,” Unger said. “So if they’re buying Dickies, they want people to know it’s Dickies so the red label’s been really important to have that prominently on items.”
Key Pieces: Coveralls redone in herringbone denim or race-inspired detailing, a super wide-leg pant with contoured waistband inspired by the men’s 874 style that was recently seen on Kourtney Kardashian, camouflage anorak jacket and pants and rugby shirts in American and collegiate colorways.
Prices: Coveralls $89, overalls $79, jackets $89, logo T-shirts $25.
Q&A Los Angeles
Backstory: Interestingly, Q&A reflects the shift in what the young contemporary category has evolved to be. No longer a segment fully defined by age, more and more young contemporary labels are about offering fashion at an opening contemporary price point for a span of customers.
“What’s interesting is as she [the consumer] started her first job and wanted a lot of desk to night pieces and couldn’t afford Parker [clothing brand] — that was her aspiration — in the past 12 years, she grew up, made money, started buying Parker and got married,” said Aaron Zoref, owner of the label Q&A. “She’s probably 42 and her priorities have changed so she’s going back and realizing great value while staying on trend.”
Zoref, who has a showroom called Studio A, has operated in the young contemporary market for some time now working with brands such as Miss Me when it first came onto the market and also pioneered a line called Collective Concepts.
Q&A, which has a warehouse and most of the team in Los Angeles, specializes in prints.
“We’re really into printing onto other kinds of fabrics so on the reverse side of Swiss dot, printing on lurex and some of these more natural fabrics,” Zoref said. “It’s easy wearing desk to night.”
Key Pieces: Buyers loved anything with animal prints and the pieces in rainbow lurex. The sets have also been strong with people buying the pieces together or as separates. Long, wide leg jumpsuits, including one with a butterfly print with a tangerine background also proved popular.
Prices: Tops $58 to $68, dresses $78 to $98 and bottoms are $68 to $78.
Show: Project Women’s
Backstory: Andy Paltos combined his love for vintage and denim when he started his Australia-based line Rolla’s.
The company’s strength is in denim bottoms drawing inspiration from the Seventies but with twists that read modern rather than overtly stuck in nostalgia. They’re not meant to be retro, sales reps for the brand said.
For fall the company introduced an eco-friendly wash, it’s calling Eco Wash. Pieces from that capsule were made in a laundry using 100 percent recycled water and reduced use of chemicals. The offering is part of the company’s focus on reducing its environmental impact with the launch of each season.
The Eco Wash denim launched on the company’s fashion silhouettes in the sailor pant — a wide leg with welt pockets — and the company’s East Coast flare, which is designed with no yoke and spade pocket. The latter is what helped the brand gain a toe-hold in the U.S. market with retailers that include Planet Blue and Lulu’s.
Key Pieces: The fall denim capsule in addition to the cord bottoms in colorways, such as a washed black and lavender pink. There’s also the East Coast flare overall.
Prices: Denim $99 to $109, jackets $159 to $199, dresses $99 to $149, tops $49 to $99 and pants $99 to $119.
Show: Project Womens
Backstory: Audria Brumberg spent enough time helping other lines re-brand when she lived in New York that leveraging her expertise for something all her own made more than enough sense.
The founder has a background in graphic design and art direction, which helped give her a strong start to building out Manner Market. Her young brand, launched just this year, is focused solely on 100 percent silk scarves.
“I want it to be easy to afford and luxurious, easy for gifting and for yourself and for women of any age,” she said.
Brumberg debuted in Vegas with three collections: The Western, fashioned after traditional western-style bandanas; Debbie, which are an elongated 70-inch long scarf that could also double as a belt; and the Klein group of solids.
“Being from L.A., I would always go to flea markets,” Brumberg said. “I had collections of bandanas, so all of those are inspired by my collection of Fifties and Sixties bandanas and I modernized the patterns.”
Key Pieces: Anything in Earth tones were a big win in Vegas.