Reinvention is not just an adage for retailers. Los Angeles trade show and market week organizers are sprucing up their venues to entice buyers for what is expected to be strong business in the first half of 2016.
Retailers trickling into the New Mart want special finds with which to stock their shelves, said assistant building manager Ashleigh Kaspszak. She noted that attendance has been on the upswing at the mart, specifically among boutique owners.
“The New Mart is seeing a lot of new business come into the building,” Kaspszak said. “We see the future as bright, with fashion and technology becoming more involved in the retail space and present during our trade-show conversations.”
Melange, the technology conference that bowed this year, is one example of this new crossover taking place that expected to attract new types of buyers. Building officials are in talks to bring Melange back to the New Mart next year.
“The first one was well-received and a lot of big players in the industry are talking about key sponsorships,” said building manager Ethan Eller.
Factory Direct, which connects designers with manufacturers, is also expected to return next year, along with Designers & Agents. About five showrooms have confirmed they will move in for January, with the building down to about a 6 per- cent vacancy. The New Mart, according to Eller, should be fully leased for the first time since the Great Recession by the end of the first half of next year.
Elsewhere in downtown Los Angeles, the Cooper Design Space said one showroom will open in January.
“I really don’t have that much space and we are very selective as to what showrooms we want in the building,” said Mona Sangkala, who handles leasing for the building.
The Brand Assembly trade show is on the books to run in conjunction with all market weeks except in August next year.
Sangkala is cautious about forecasting attendance for 2016, and said it’s a difficult call, largely dependent on just how many retailers plan to open stores.
For the California Market Center, it’s all about diversity and specialization across multiple market segments, with building executives focused on nabbing new showrooms for streetwear, young contemporary and activewear. They hope this strategy will make the venue more appealing to a broader range of buyers.
The California Market Center will continue to be a venue for the Los Angeles Men’s Market next year, although no new trade shows could be confirmed at press time. The apparel and accessories show Select, athleisure show Shape and Transit shoe shows will all return next year, running in conjunction with market weeks.
The building is also making a more concerted effort to diversify its tenant mix with more creative office space being offered next year — another bid to drive traffic. The talent agency 24 Seven recently expanded to 15,000 square feet from 8,000 square feet in the building, and senior vice president of leasing Sue Bhanubandh said, “We are working to bring in more of these companies in fields such as tech [and] e-commerce.”