CHICAGO — The recent StyleMax trade show at the Merchandise Mart here attracted a slew of new buyers as well as vendors.
The three-day show featured more than 1,300 brands, ranging from contemporary labels like Tart and Trina Turk to denim-maker Joe’s Jeans. Retailer attendance increased with buyers traveling from New Jersey and Colorado.
“There were so many new faces, which was great. We had a really positive market and a double-digit increase. There was a great energy on the show floor,” said Susan Glick, vice president of women’s apparel at Merchandise Mart Properties. “We hear this not only from the buyers but from the exhibitors. We increased children’s, contemporary looked great, premium denim looked great. There was a mix, so if you had a ready-to-wear boutique with stationery or books, you could find it.”
Sherri Knuth Bryan, owner of Knuth’s in Pepper Pike, Ohio, was looking for items from new vendors and pre-existing ones for fall and resort.
“I had a lot of open to buy. I’m not able to go to Vegas [Magic]. So there were a lot of people I needed to see. Many of those are in Chicago showrooms,” Knuth said, adding she wrote about 75 clothing orders and about 25 jewelry and accessories orders, picking up two new vendors: Frnch, a contemporary clothing line, and The Waldron Group, which makes reversible skirts.
“I’m always looking for new and cute items. I don’t write huge orders, but I like to have a variety of hip, new things,” she said.
In rtw trends, wider pant silhouettes and colorful prints, in blouses, dresses and pants, looked fresh.
“Fringe is an important trend, but it’s everywhere. It’s definitely the single-most repeated trend,” said Knuth, who also attends Intermezzo, Coterie, FAME, Moda and Accessories the Show. “The printed things feel newer — especially in bottoms. Novelty prints in cool colors look fresh and new.”
Jana Zacek Charles, owner of the Mulberry and Me clothing boutique in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, likes the easy pace of StyleMax, which she says is good for relationship building.
“I do go to New York to do a lot of my buying, but at StyleMax, I can make more of a connection and take my time,” Zacek Charles said. “I probably end up buying more that way. I build a better sense of the line when it’s less hectic.”