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4 4 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC Scene Two of Las Vegas newest retail and multiuse developments City Center and Town Square offer a contrast in styles. City Center, opened in December, is about sleek, futuristic luxury, while Town Square, which bowed at the end of 2007, is a homey, open-air lifestyle center. Here are some of their enticements for after-hours fun, food and frolics. By Kristin Studeman PURPLE HAZE If you have energy left after a long day of trade shows, put your party shoes on and head to Haze Nightclub at Aria Resort & Casino. In the newest venture from The Light Group, a hospitality company, Haze invites patrons in under a large red canopy and over a bridge that crosses a moat. The metallic, black, red and gold interior features slanted steel walls, two-way mirrors, projection screens and strategically placed lighting to challenge guests perception. The dramatic 25,000-square-foot nightclub has a main dance floor with a cutting-edge Avalon-designed sound system and three full-service bars. For guests in search of a more relaxed atmosphere, there is an intimate lounge wrapped in suede walls and plush furniture. VIP s can retreat up the grand staircase to a members-only room, decorated with luxurious jewel-like furniture. Haze Nightclub at Aria Resort & Casino at City Center, 3730 Las Vegas Boulevard; for table reservations; lightgroup.com/nightlife/haze-nightclub-las-vegas. Open Thursday to Saturday, 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. FRENCH TWIST Three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire has opened his first U.S. restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Las Vegas. The striking 23rd-floor restaurant includes a dramatic glass staircase, more than 300 gold globes illuminating the space and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer an extraordinary view of the Strip. The menu puts an innovative twist on classic French cuisine, showcasing Gagnaire s renowned pairing of flavors and textures. For example, signature sea scallops and foie gras from the tasting menu ($185), combine a black olive gelée, sake-apple marmalade and pomegranate seeds; the signature filet of Never Never veal is roasted with a dry orange rub, flavored with morel-licorice coulis and paired with Gorgonzola polenta à la plancha ($52). The dessert menu has equally inventive offerings. The signature grand dessert includes five traditional French-inspired delicacies, fruits and homemade chocolates ($24). Twist has an extensive list of wines to complement the menu. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at Mandarin Oriental; 3752 Las Vegas Boulevard South; ; mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/dining/twist. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 6 to 10:30 p.m. VIVA ELVIS The King of rock n roll has finally returned to Las Vegas not that his spirit ever left. Cirque du Soleil recently launched its latest resident show, Viva Elvis, in the custom-built Elvis Theater at Aria Resort & Casino at City Center. The show combines dance, acrobatics and live music to highlight Elvis Presley s legendary music career. Writer and director Vincent Paterson blends 30 of the icon s chart-topping songs with major moments in Elvis life. Organized by Cirque du Soleil, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Aria Resort & Casino, Viva Elvis will make its official debut Feb. 19. Until then, guests who attend preview shows will receive a 25 percent discount. Viva Elvis at Elvis Theater, Aria Resort & Casino at City Center, 3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South; ; cirquedusoleil.com/vivaelvis. Shows Fri. to Tues., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Regular price: $99 to 175 per person. SWEET AND SPICY Sin City just got a little spicier, thanks to Caña Latin Kitchen & Bar at Town Square, opened last month, developed by restaurateur Cory Harwell and executive chef Kevin Lew, formerly of Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace, Caña features bocadillos (small plates) and signature ceviche dishes including scallop ceviche with mango, mint and pomegranate seeds ($12) and a mushroom ceviche with lemon, orange and truffle oil ($10). Seafood isn t the only thing on the menu: Caña puts a Latin twist on traditional American dishes with its habanero jack mac n cheese ($8) and chorizo corn dogs with tangerine habanero mustard ($10). To sweeten things up, try the signature dessert: a banana bread pudding drizzled with dark caramel and crème anglaise ($8). Caña, which is Spanish for sugar cane, also offers sugar cane-based cocktails including the Ultimate Mojito and the caipirinha ($9). If the food doesn t transport you to South America, the rich interior design with warm cherry-wood textures and the Latin-inspired music just might have you ready to salsa. Caña Latin Kitchen & Bar at Town Square Las Vegas, 6599 Las Vegas Boulevard South; ; canalasvegas.com. Open nightly, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. TREAT ME Home to the world s largest gummy bear and 3,000 types of candy, It s Sugar, the latest store from sweets entrepreneur Jeff Rubin, will satisfy any sweet tooth for less than $1. The store, which opened Jan. 29 at Town Square Las Vegas, is one of 14 locations for the Boca Raton, Fla.-based candy company. The shop carries a wide range of treats, from Emergency and Dechox Chocolate Bars to classic favorites like Fruit Stripe Gum, Zots, Bit-O-Honey and Vanilla Charleston Chews, all displayed in big, colorful bowls. The store also sells candy-related gifts and apparel. Rubin s fashion connection is established, too: He partnered with Ralph Lauren s daughter, Dylan, to develop Dylan s Candy Bar in New York. He also created FAO Schweetz, the candy departments within the FAO Schwarz toy stores. It s Sugar at Town Square Las Vegas, #N-15; ; itssugar.com. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. CLEAN COOKING New York chef Masa Takayama has brought his fresh and simple creations to Las Vegas. His new restaurant in the Aria Resort & Casino includes the main dining space, Bar Masa, and the smaller and more exclusive Shaboo. The sleek and spacious interior of Bar Masa reflects Takayama s clean cooking. Richard Block Architects designed the space with a focus on raw cast concrete, stainless steel, teak wood and leather. Takayama s specialties include Dancing Shrimp ($26), Sizzling Spicy Octopus ($28), Peking duck with foie gras ($26) and Ohmi beef Tataki with white truffle ($89 to $120). A selection of handpicked sake and wines from around the world is available. The intimate, 52-seat Shaboo offers an omakase-style experience lead daily by Takayama at a hefty $500 per person. The chef introduces the Shaboo cooking style with a demonstration, then teaches guests the techniques involved in preparing the food. Shaboo s meat and seafood dishes are paired with rich dipping sauces like lobster bisque or citrus sauce. Takayama is also known for pairing his signature toro slices with Petrossian caviar. To cleanse the palate, Shaboo offers seasonal ice creams such as winter truffle, soba tea and icy pomegranate sorbet. Bar Masa and Shaboo at Aria Resort & Casino at City Center; 3730 Las Vegas Boulevard; for reservations. Open daily, 5:30 to 10 p.m.
6 6 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC All Around the Town MAGIC organizers see no logistics issues in the new dual-venue format. By Jean E. Palmieri GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES. That will be the battle cry for the bus and limousine drivers in Las Vegas today as the MAGIC trade show opens in two separate locations. The new dual venue will find MAGIC Man, including S.L.A.T.E., Premium and Street, alongside Project at Mandalay Bay. An expanded WWDMAGIC and the new FN Platform footwear show will join Pool and Sourcing at MAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Adjacent to Project is another new addition, Workroom, which will feature 100 advanced contemporary apparel, accessory and shoe brands. Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International, said there will be a constant stream of vehicles ready and waiting to take retailers between the two locations from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. for the next three days. It should take 16 to 22 minutes, depending on traffic, he said, adding that local drivers know the back roads through the city and can avoid the traffic-clogged Strip. All told, MAGIC and its sister shows will have 1,200 exhibitors, including more than 1,500 new brands. So buyers will have plenty of new things to see, he said. Retailers can start it all off with the Doneger Group. The company s opening-day seasonal overview for men, young men and boys, which is de rigueur for retailers, has relocated its 8 a.m. presentation today to the convention center at Mandalay Bay, Lagoon Rooms G, H and I. At 11 a.m., its creative director, David Wolfe, will present an overview of the just-completed men s European runway shows in the same location. Wolfe will then undoubtedly jump into one of those shuttles to get to the LVCC for his women s trend forecast, slated for 3 p.m. in room N231. MAGIC is also presenting three keynote speakers during this show all of which will be at the LVCC. The series kicks off Tuesday with Marshal Cohen, the guru and chief industry analyst from The NPD Group, who will give a presentation entitled Welcome to the New World, an overview of what he sees as a whole new world of fashion and retailing. Cohen s discussion will be at 3:30 in room N254 at the LVCC and will be followed by a reception at 4:30 in room N263 at which he ll sign copies of his new book, Buy Me. On Wednesday, Tony Hsieh, chief executive officer of Zappos, will deliver a keynote speech at 9 a.m. at the LVCC All told, MAGIC and its sister shows will have 1,200 exhibitors, including more than 1,500 new brands. Renderings of the men s and women s show floors. (room N254) entitled Delivering Happiness, a presentation on establishing balance among human needs. At 11 a.m. in the same room, Gail Strickler, assistant U.S. Trade Representative in the Office of Textiles, will deliver Free Trade: The Obama Administration s Outlook and the Impact on Your Sourcing Decisions. DeMoulin called the seminar lineup more senior, interesting and relevant than ever. But it s the expansion of the shows under the MAGIC umbrella that is most important to him. Since 90 percent of the buyers who shop Project traditionally visit MAGIC Man, he said, it will be a vast improvement for them to just take an escalator between the shows instead of a cab. In the past, Project was at the Sands Convention Center. As a result, many of the men s buyers are staying at the Mandalay hotel complex and will be able to take advantage of the ease and convenience of having all of men s wear in one location for the first time, he said. But by jumping into one of the free buses, attendees can also take in the 500 brands that have signed on for the 60,000 square feet devoted to FN Platform. That show will be merchandised into lifestyle areas including women s fashion footwear, men s and women s athletic/casual shoes, men s collections, men s and women s comfort, and juniors and children s shoes. Once at the LVCC, buyers can also stop by Pool to shop some directional brands. This show has a hard-core following, DeMoulin said. He also pointed to the dramatic improvement retailers will see at the WWDMAGIC women s show. We ve been sold out for the past six or seven shows, he said, but by moving it into the Center Hall, it will be more integrated than when it was in North Hall. The fashion and lifestyle brands will be front and center and the floor has been remerchandised into three distinct neighborhoods, organized by lifestyle, according to show executives. We still have all the great brands, DeMoulin said, but now the [positioning] makes better sense. That holds true for the men s shows as well. DeMoulin stressed that although For the show calendar, see WWD.com. Project and MAGIC Man are now in the same location, they each have their own identity. In the MAGIC Man show, every space is filled, he said, and show management is expecting a healthy uptick in retail attendance. Project, which is a little larger than the previous show, will have to share space at Mandalay with the Western Veterinary show this time, but starting in August, the vets are being bumped to give more space to Project. The whole facility will be apparel and accessories next time, DeMoulin said. There will be press rooms at both Mandalay and LVCC and the popular MAGIC Buyers Lounge will remain at the LVCC. At Mandalay, there are VIP lounges at Project and MAGIC Man. And for all attendees, there s an opening-night bowling party at 7:30 p.m. at The Orleans with ticket proceeds going to benefit Two Ten, a charity for the footwear industry. After rolling the rock, those with energy to spare can hit the Project party starting at 10 p.m. at the House of Blues Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay, or the S.L.A.T.E. party at Vanity at the Hard Rock, which also starts at 10 p.m. and goes until 2 a.m. Pool is hosting an opening-night party as well at Wasted Space at the Hard Rock from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
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8 8 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC Operational Strengths Savvy strategies pay off. By Vicki M. Young EVEN WITH HOPES OF IMPROVED sales in 2010, apparel firms exhibiting at WWDMAGIC are focusing on what counts most finding ways to use both their fashion and financial acumen to keep operations in check for profitability and still give their retail customers the products they want for their stores. From the retailers side, it is still about price, but quality is also important. So now it s also about delivering better quality at better prices, but not necessarily lower prices, said Dan Weaver, vice president for design at Tandy Brands Accessories Inc. According to Weaver, the quality focus at Tandy has been primarily on improving fit and size options, such as for belts, and providing new details like linings, pockets and more functionality for items like wallets. Weaver acknowledged that a good portion of the accessories operation is based on replenishment, making it a steady business. While certain categories can be more difficult than others in the current economic environment, at least there are still opportunities for newness, he said. At Christopher Lena Shirt Co., Leonard Kang, vice president for operations, said, The biggest way to keep your margins and still maintain prices is to run a lean operation. Kang explained that his firm is careful about not expanding too aggressively, and remains conservative in its expansion plans. Like Weaver, he adds value to the product by focusing on quality and conservative styling, and staying away from offerings with riskier fashion styles. That also helps with inventory control. The biggest thing we ve noticed about buying habits is that there used to be a spring and fall buying season where you d see a large spike and then it would taper off. Now, although we see initial orders at MAGIC for spring and fall, there s less ordering up front but then we see subsequent orders for restocks that are higher than in the past, Kang noted. Lori Medici, vice president for marketing at Perry Ellis International Inc., said her firm focuses on testing ideas or possible trends with key retailers before rolling out the product. Her firm s umbrella of brands includes Perry Ellis, Cubavera, Savane, Callaway for Perry Ellis International, the Havanera Co. and Centro. In sportswear, tests are very common and an integral part of our business. With most retailers being such large consolidated chains today, every product must be a proven winner. The common practice we follow is to test nearly every new trend or idea as quickly as possible, as soon as a new idea or trend develops. Once design brings a new idea to the table, we meet with the retailer that is the anchor of the Looks from Perry Ellis (top) and Tommy Bahama women s wear. brand to present and test, said Medici. She explained the real key is a fast reaction time. Often, we test in predetermined modules of store locations. The best practice is to test A, B and even C doors. The tests vary from 10 to 100 doors, depending on the size of the retailer. Once a test is agreed upon, we must [determine] an action plan to immediately roll out [the concept] to more doors once the results are known, Medici said. Some firms put a ceiling on costs when experimenting with how best to inject newness into a product. One such firm is Marcraft Apparel Group. Marcraft, a men s tailored apparel firm, owns a mill in Mexico that can turn fabric fast and experiment with designs within the fabrics it produces. According to Bill Slitkin, senior vice president of merchandising, The challenge in the supply chain is how to make it better and still cheaper. You have to look at the sourcing chain all the way through. We challenge the mills on how to make it better and they ve risen to the challenge. In the past, if you made it better, you charged more. Now the answer is through technology, lower overhead and a leaner business. Slitkin said the mills are constantly experimenting with fiber and yarn mixtures, and test six or seven new fabrics each season. Even though Marcraft owns its own mill, Controlling expenses remains very important, said Ed Gurdak, the brand s executive vice president of sales. You have to realize and understand what are all your sourcing options. In a tight economy, everybody may have to work under lower margins than they did last year. You also have to be competitive in price to hold market share, even though sometimes it is at the expense of margins. Other firms, such as Tommy Bahama, find that even with a lackluster economic backdrop, the firm doesn t have to deviate much on opening price points in its freestanding stores, since about 70 percent of a collection s offerings represents core basics. Terry Pillow, chief executive officer of the Tommy Bahama brand, owned by Oxford Industries Inc., said in its sportswear business, whether men s or women s, about 70 percent is key-item driven and 30 percent fashion merchandise. It s a tricky balance, he said. In the women s business, people have been lowering price points, but we haven t gone in and lowered everything in the line. The collections business comprises some key items that are affordably priced. We do have some fashion items to brighten up and make the collection exciting. The women s business is growing year-overyear to be a bigger component of our overall business. Different Strokes Swimwear makers try a range of approaches. By Sarah Haight Nylon and spandex bikini from Playboy Swimwear at InGear. SWIMWEAR COMPANIES are hoping that creative marketing approaches and higher-quality materials will yield better results at WWDMAGIC, following several seasons in which the recession took a bite out of sales. A few of those businessboosting strategies are already in place. We ve given incentives for orders placed during a specific time frame, said Natalie Wierzba, design director and sales manager for JY Rays Inc. Wierzba noted she has not changed her wholesale pricing $11 to $23 in light of the sluggish economy, but has expanded to a few more categories in order to lure a more diverse customer. Our children s [line] toddler through youth in boys and girls, swim, boards, rash and cover-ups has been terrific, Wierzba said. Time-based incentives have proven effective elsewhere: offering on-time shipping has been key to maintaining good client relations at Apparel Ventures, according to AVI Design Group president Ron Russell. Other companies are looking to alternative sources of advertising and marketing for a bump in sales. Marcella Garcia, brand manager for Winki Swim, said she has opened Facebook and Twitter accounts for the company, in part to publicize its wares as well as to hear our customers opinions about our product. This is a very important tool to get to know our market. Garcia added the company is using New York-based artists to create prints for its swim pieces, a quality-driven tweak she hopes will lure a more edgy clientele. (She called the swimwear pieces of art with excellent fit. ) Winki Swim also recently opened a showroom in New York, which Garcia hopes will encourage more walk-in clients. Rosie Kendall, the designer and owner of Unleashed Swimwear, which will make its debut at WWDMAGIC, says not scrimping on details has been key to her business approach. All of our swimwear goes through several fit sessions before it becomes fit-approved, explained Kendall, whose designs are often embellished with Swarovski crystals. The line wholesales between $69 and $89. Kendall is also optimistic about her company s monokini, which she says offers a different silhouette and, as a new designer, sets her apart from the pack. Taking a more drastic approach is Betty Bangs designer and owner Beth Gerharts, who has seen four boutiques that carry her line close in the last 18 months. My wholesale price points are $65 to $130, whereas two years ago they were $130 to $165, Gerharts explained. Undoubtably, the price drops have been a direct result of the recession. Gerharts said she s been able to Polyester and spandex bikini from Winki Island. make the price change because her designs are straightforward, lacking embellishments, although she remains committed to trying other approaches to boosting sales as well: I have done a good job at promoting my business in my local market of Miami by doing fashion shows and events and attending trade shows. And while most designers aren t lowering prices to accommodate a less lucrative retail climate, they are trying to put more effort into underscoring what makes their company unique to buyers. At Apparel Ventures, for instance, Russell says the company is focusing on its tie-dyed pieces, which have done well thus far at retail and which will be reproduced for Winki Swim s Garcia noted the company has added a scrunch bottom, lending a retro vibe to the lineup, while Wierzba of JY Rays said her firm is also using original artwork in its designs all individual approaches to a market that requires quality and name recognition to stand out. After all, traditionally, Swimwear has been a bright spot on the retail landscape, observed Russell. In general, we have found our buyers to be optimistic about this year s swimwear business. PHOTOS BY JOHN AQUINO; MODEL: MARIA SHUMAKH/Q; HAIR BY RYAN TANIGUCHI FOR KATE RYAN INC. USING TRESEMME; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: BRITTANY ROBINSON; STYLED BY COURT WILLIAMS; LOCATION: GRACE, A ROOMMATE HOTEL
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10 10 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC Game Changer Opportunities to reach new consumers arise as vendors seek to expand distribution. By David Lipke STREETWEAR AND URBAN VENDORS HAVE FACED A HOST OF ISSUES is not what I expected, said Ralph Reynolds, creative director at Akoo, which of late, including an economy that has drastically reduced the buying power of targets streetwear, premium and contemporary shoppers. young consumers, the closure of many urban-oriented specialty retailers and For fall, the label will showcase an outdoors theme in its graphics, such as a a splintering of the category into an array of lifestyles and demographics. The hunter with ducks and hounds on the back of a poplin shirt. It s very Americana, changes have made marketing to young male streetwear customers more complex with a Forties and Fifties feel, said Reynolds. but also provided opportunities for streetwear brands to reach a wider audience Also in the lineup is denim in both clean and bleached-out styles, which retail for between $80 and $125, cardigans and lightweight wool plaid and cham- which could be particularly true if the retail climate begins to thaw this year, as many observers expect. bray shirts. We ve had a nice resurgence in the tail end of 2009 and we see the business Not to be outdone by the younger brands, Rocawear will import its mobile popup shop, situated inside a gleaming, expandable 18-wheel big rig, onto the MAGIC growing in 2010, said Peter Mintz, a sales director at Akademiks, a division of New York-based Kemistre 8. floor. The aim is to show retailers the appeal of the entire Rocawear lifestyle, said Many retailers have reduced their urban streetwear buys in recent years, as the Jameel Spencer, chief marketing officer at the Iconix Brand Group Inc.-owned category underwent a contraction and young shoppers gravitated toward a more label. Following MAGIC, the shop-on-wheels will follow brand founder Jay-Z on contemporary aesthetic but that could change, added Mintz. I think there was his concert tour around the U.S. this year. a major pullback by retailers in the urban category but some have realized they After showing in its own ballroom in Las Vegas for two seasons, Southpole might have gone too far, he explained. That customer is still there. It might not is making a return to the MAGIC floor. The brand, owned by New Jersey-based be the levels of two or three years ago, but there s still strong demand for this kind Wicked Fashions, will introduce a new sublabel called Southpole Premium, of product. which features trendier designs, such as skinny-fit denim. Urban streetwear has branched into three distinct cliques, said Mintz, each In the core Southpole range, the line is divided into three main themes: preppy, serving a different kind of customer. There are the traditional guys from the utility and biker. The preppy collection includes argyle sweaters, colorful polos and Nineties, like Rocawear and Sean John; then you have the second wave logo track jackets; utility encompasses designs with exposed zippers and grommet from the past five years like Akademiks, LRG and Coogi, and then details, and biker features studded jeans and fake leather trim on shirts. a third group of younger labels like Crooks & Castles which have Wicked Fashions will also showcase RS by Sheckler, a skate lifestyle their own vibe, he explained. It s a whole different landscape. brand created with 19-year-old skating phenom Ryan Sheckler. It The young guy today is such a wiser shopper, with a lot more is targeted at the midtier and is sold primarily in J.C. Penney options. He s surfing the Internet to find the coolest stuff stores. Rounding out the company s lifestyle offerings are and can see what all these different brands are doing. A. Prodigee, a streetwear brand sold mostly at Sears, and Rather than try to be all things to all people in the White Tag, a tattoo-inspired label launched last year to streetwear zone or emulate what newer brands are bring the Ed Hardy look to midtier retailers. doing, Akademiks intends to serve its core customer base with a classic streetwear aesthetic. We to bring more fashion to their brand and White Tag J.C. Penney wanted to see some trendier things are going to stay true to who we are, said Mintz, fits that mandate, said Janice Welles, director of adding the company sees a lot of opportunity to marketing at Wicked Fashions. grow on base exchange stores serving armed forces personnel. Sheckler The anemic economy has been a crucial factor impacting the streetwear zone, said Gerry Matos, senior vice president of marketing at headwear maker New Era. Obviously we ve bumped along for the last 18 to 24 months, and there hasn t been any great momentum at retail. That s led to some really strong erosion in the urban landscape, with literally hundreds of stores closing. The high unemployment rate, which has hit younger consumers particularly hard, has been a key negative factor in the market, said Matos. Total income for 16- to 19-year-old consumers was down 28 percent to $15.7 billion for the first nine months Southpole The young guy today is such a wise shopper, with a lot more options. Peter Mintz, Akademiks of 2009, according to a December research report from Brean Murray, Carret & Co. To spur sales, New Era is offering several new initiatives, including the debut of a new line of caps using licensed cartoon imagery from the Disney archives dating back to the Thirties. The company is also using a new photorealistic printing technique to bring a more vivid look to its licensed Major League Baseball and character designs, from partners like DC Comics. Another key for us is to expand our categories and continue to drive into apparel and accessories, said Matos. We had a broad test of our branded basics at Champs over the holiday, and it performed pretty well. Last year, New Era acquired Miami-based 5th & Ocean, a maker of team sports activewear and private label sportswear. That deal brought an incredible amount of knowledge about apparel into the company, noted Matos. With the economy in mind, value pricing is a key selling point at S.L.A.T.E. exhibitor Mighty Healthy, with its jeans retailing for between $70 and $80. One of our strategies is to underprice our competitors. We always want to be a little cheaper than our peers, said Denis Iderman, who founded the company with Ray Mate in 2004 as a T-shirt line and has grown it into a full collection, including hard goods like skateboards. The strategy has gotten the brand into more than 150 accounts, including Zumiez and online retailer Kamarloop.com. Akoo, founded in late 2008 by hip-hop star T.I., his business partner Jason Geter and Virginia Beach, Va.-based manufacturer RP55 Group, is a promising brand in the newer wave of streetwear players. I think people might pigeonhole us as an urban brand, but what I always hear when they see the product is, This
12 12 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II MAGIC The freewheeling mood of the adventurous outdoors is the overriding outlook for the fall MAGIC show. Ultraskinny pants, cropped tweed blazers, dark plaid flannel shirts and Fair Isle knits are must-haves for this season s mountaineer. Alex Badia Ted Baker s wool and polyamide jacket, Civil Smith s cotton shirt and Lifetime Collective s cotton and spandex pants. Cire gloves; Pantherella socks; Vintage boots.
13 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, WWD.COM DKNY s cotton jacket, Rogan s cotton sweater, Individualized Shirts inner and tied-on-waist cotton shirts and Levi s cotton and polyester pants. Cire gloves. PHOTOS BY MATTHEW SANDAGER; MODEL: VINCENT B./FUSION; HAIR BY RYAN TANIGUCHI WITH KATE RYAN INC. USING TRESEMME; FASHION ASSISTANT: LUIS CAMPUZANO; FASHION INTERNS: JEMMA LEE AND JENNI OH
14 14 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II MAGIC Barbour s nylon coat, Levi s cotton jacket, Vince s wool sweater and Dockers cotton pants. Cire gloves; Wolverine boots.
15 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, WWD.COM Lifetime Collective s wool sweater, DKNY s wool and cotton blazer, DC Shoes cotton shirt, Jockey s cotton thermal and Hurley s cotton denim jeans. Christopher Fischer gloves; Scott-Nichol socks; Rachel Comey boots. ON THE COVER: On Him: Schott s wool jacket, Converse by John Varvatos acrylic and wool sweater, Alternative s cotton shirt and Vince s cotton pants. Polo by Ralph Lauren socks; Red Wing Shoes boots. On Her: 213 Industry s acrylic fur vest, Splendid s cotton T; BB Dakota s Tencel and rayon skirt; Tart cotton and spandex leggings. Pour La Victoire boots.
16 16 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC Jazza s pleather clutch. TOP: PHOTOS BY ROBERT MITRA; MODEL: BETTINE/MUSE; HAIR BY JOEL GUNDERSON FOR CUTLER/REDKEN AT ATELIER MANAGEMENT; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: ASHLEY JOHNSON; STYLED BY KIM FRIDAY; LOCATION: HOMESTEAD INN THOMAS HENKELMANN, HOMESTEADINN.COM; BOTTOM: PHOTO BY JOHN AQUINO; MODEL: MARIA SHUMAKH/Q; HAIR BY RYAN TANIGUCHI FOR KATE RYAN INC. USING TRESEMME; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: BRITTANY ROBINSON; STYLED BY COURT WILLIAMS; LOCATION: GRACE, A ROOMMATE HOTEL Opportunity Knocks Contemporary makers see the economy s challenges as a vehicle to shore up business. By Marc Karimzadeh WHILE THE CONTEMPORARY CATEGORY HAS SEEN A SLIGHT RECOVERY in recent months, it s still grappling with key challenges. Issues range from pricing to the increasing competition from fast-fashion chains and a customer who is more savvy in her fashion than ever. But that doesn t deter executives from forging ahead at full steam in fact, many said they are seeing these issues as an opportunity to reinvent the wheel and be in a stronger position during recovery. The category as a whole is facing a challenge as both contemporary and fastfashion retailers are upping the ante in this economy, Joyce Azria, creative director of BCBGeneration, said. Fashion labels have to be concerned more than ever at fine-tuning their brand identities. These issues are opportunities for new thinking and creativity. The customer has changed a lot, Azria added. She is a lot more in tune to trends and expects them right away. Fast-fashion retailers have an ability to reproduce runway looks in just weeks so it s no longer just about the product, but about the brand identity and attitude. Many companies concur that this is a time of opportunity. For instance, Camuto Group, which is behind the Jessica Simpson label, recently signed a jeanswear line for the brand with Jones Apparel Group Inc., and is encouraged by retail reaction to the deal. Camuto Group s owner and chief executive officer, Vince Camuto, said 2009 was tough at retail, but we have emerged very positively and eager for Today you really need to be outstanding to survive, he added. It s tough out there. Only the people who understand the formula can make it happen. Product, people, passion it s simple but true. Michelle Kim, designer and the president of 213 Industry, said business has been low-key. Hype s silk dress Retailers are very cautious about and beaded buying items, she said. I think they necklace. Costa feel better buying less than getting stuck Blanca sandals. with the merchandise in their stores. A Delicate Balance Price sensitivity is still key for accessories firms. By Alexandra Steigrad EVEN WITH A STABILIZING ECONomy and improving accessories sales, vendors are still wondering if the price is right, as consumers maintain a tight grip on their cash. According to Adrienne Vittadini Handbags president Barry Kramer, the accessories firm changed its pricing substantially over the last year to roughly $200 to $400, from $480 to $580. With a sweet spot of $248 to $298 that customers are responding to, Kramer said: We definitely turned a corner now that the dust has settled. Even though sales were flat this year, Kramer expects about a 15 to 18 percent increase in We don t want it [the product] to be another dumb, basic bag. We don t just want to fit into a price, he said, explaining that, while price has played a role in the company s strategy, he sees today s new challenges as beneficial to the creativity of the brand in terms of sourcing and creativity. Aside from price, Kramer said he s more sensitive to inventories as customers are buying closer to need. Patti McKillop, chief executive officer of Potluck Paris, a Seattle-based jewelry vendor, noticed the same trend. Sales on average are down 5 percent from last year because the business lost some marginal customers. I did feel like a lot of our smaller stores were more price sensitive, she said, adding she was able to retain her regular accounts. The biggest difference is that instead of one $5,000 order, I am getting five orders of $1,000, for example. She explained that many of her orders came in closer to Christmas than in previous years. A lot of customers did not have the confidence that they would sell through their orders, said McKillop, who offers imported mixed-metal jewelry from Paris and Italy that retails between $30 and $300. We really strive to get lowerend items because it makes us nervous if everything retails at $200. Consumers of Vera Bradley, an accessories firm that specializes in handbags, travel items, luggage, stationery and eyewear, also gravitated toward lowerpriced items. We re glad we can offer a [quality] product and not at a ridiculously expensive price, said spokeswoman Melissa Schenkel, who noted prices generally range from $10 to $130. During holiday, Vera Bradley consumers trended toward purchasing fewer high-priced items and more lower-priced items, such as zip ID cases, lanyards, all-in-one wristlets, she said, adding large duffel bags, which retail They key issues are price points, she continued. Buyers are looking for items that are [at a] lower price than brand names. Companies like Forever 21, H&M and Zara are making a very strong impact on consumers, we have to be very cautious with our price to compete. We like to believe that there are consumers who will pay more to have better quality items than [focus on] price. Yummie Tummie creator and founder Heather Thomson struck a similar note for the young contemporary scene. The issues are competition from junior designers who can do it for less, and defining the added value for young contemporary lines higher price point, she said. In addition, this hybrid also is trying to attract the contemporary customer with trend-right design and a quality standard that s strong enough to get her to trade down for that more affordable price. The challenges lie within fabric sourcing, technology and competitive manufacturing. The young contemporary model struggles with real estate, and this consumer struggles to find choices and opportunity within this zone. Topshop is clearly at the forefront of this market with its much anticipated launch in the U.S. Pauline Nakios, owner and creative director of Lilla P., said business has been on an uptick, even as pricing continues to be an issue. I think it s still about asking what people really have to spend, Nakios said. How much are they able to spend on clothing? People having to prioritize, with jobs being sparse. Nakios pointed to the continued weakness of the dollar as an issue in the contemporary field. The fall of the dollar is always a challenge on the manufacturing side, she said. The weaker the dollar, the more expensive it is for us to produce, which, in the end, will result in higher wholesale prices. We are really trying to negotiate with our manufacturing partners, and we are not willing to sacrifice quality at all. Charlotte Tarantola, founder and designer of her namesake line and the Laquette label, said that while business has improved, it s still not near the levels of She also cited the competition from budget retail chains as a key issue for business. I think that it s difficult for top manufacturers, unless they are offering something obviously different, to compete with lower priced lines, she said. Not all business is pegged on the price, though. If you look for something special, unique and slightly less available, people will pay the price, Tarantola said. Camuto concurred: In all my years, I have never known a savvier customer than today s woman. With all the information available at our fingertips, we have to treasure the customers that walk into our stores and treat them right. If you give customers the best service and the best product, they will return. for $80, performed well, too. Schenkel said the firm saw sales improve slightly against last year, and opened six Vera Bradley store as well as 500 new wholesale accounts last year. The company has 28 stores and about 3,500 wholesale accounts. While business has stabilized at the lower-end, high-end designers, like Michelle Cravens, who owns the luxury accessories company Michelle Monroe Studios, said improvement is a little slower. I see the consumer picking up, she said. It s not setting the world on fire, but we re off to a better start. Cravens, whose company is best known for its large leather and feather handbags, said she has been getting reorders and sees sales improvement over last year. If people are going to be spend money, it s going to be on jewelry or handbags versus apparel, she said, noting that typically, her buyers are able to sell her handbags, which retail from $300 to $670, to their most reliable customers. Retail is still kind of leery, she said, explaining that while some of her clients reorder big, others have the customer pay ahead of time before they place their orders with her. In general, Cravens said, consumers are still conscientious when it Metal ring with Crystallized-Swarovski Elements from Potluck Paris, ZAD s metal and glass bracelet, V.Fraas rayon and polyester scarf and plastic sunglasses from Zoe & Sage. Angie dress. comes to spending. In order to help grow her own business, she recently launched a lower-priced jewelry line, which she showed in September at Coterie in New York. The price range of the jewelry is $35 to $300, but 85 percent of the collection is under $100, she said. Her biggest seller is a large, $65 ring adorned with Crystallized-Swarovski Elements. The price point [of the collection] is good with what we re going through, she said. It s going to get me to survive through this economy.
18 18 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II MAGIC WWD.COM Cotton denim vest from Zco. Jeans at Alpha Garment, cotton T-shirt from Sesame Street at Freeze Clothing and Soundgirl s cotton and spandex jeans. True Religion high-tops. Left: Gotta Flurt s cotton canvas sneakers. PHOTOS BY JOHN AQUINO; MODEL: ELIZABETH WHITE\NEW YORK MODEL MANAGEMENT; HAIR BY RYAN TANIGUCHI FOR KATE RYAN INC. USING TRESEMME; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: BRITTANY ROBINSON; STYLED BY COURT WILLIAMS; LOCATION: GRACE, A ROOMMATE HOTEL A Mercurial Lot Dealing with the recession and teenage girls is a real juggling act for juniors firms. By Khanh T.L. Tran LET S FACE IT: JUNIORS APPAREL COMPANIES KNOW ABOUT FICKLE CUStomers. In the midst of a recession, manufacturers had to contend with offering everything that a girl wanted at a reasonable price. Now, at the latest edition of WWDMAGIC, vendors say they re facing challenges and must look beyond price. If you re going to have repeat business, your customer is not going to buy just because of price, explained Deke Jamieson, executive vice president of marketing and licensing at YMI, a Los Angeles-based jeansmaker that also will present outerwear at the show. You can get them into the store. But if they don t see that value and they re not happy with the product, they re not coming back. Judging by recent data, girls between the ages of 13 and 17 haven t been returning to stores very often. According to The NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm, total apparel sales purchased by this age group fell 7 percent to $16.74 billion in the 12 months ended last November from $18 billion a year ago. I don t think the business is good at all, said Martin Barrack, sales director at Z Cavaricci, which is relaunching this spring with a new line of jeans wholesaling for between $18 and $28. The only reason we re optimistic is we re hitting a niche in the market that might not exist.if we were coming in at $80 wholesale, I don t think it d be that workable. Added Suzanne Desiderio, president of Kellwood Co. s XOXO junior brand: I feel that 2010 is going to maintain a flat level to On the other hand, Mike Guimm, general manager at Wow Couture, a fashion knits firm in Los Angeles, expressed optimism about the company s plans to double business from $15 million last year. Buyers are increasing their units and placing more orders, he said, noting Wow s retailers include Arden B., Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. To retain an edge over competitors, Wow sent its designers to Europe to track the latest fashion trends, and then incorporated them into its rayon bandage dresses and sheer Modal cardigans that wholesale from $10 to $18. It also turned to China as a source of interesting yarns that it previously couldn t procure from its vendors in Central America. Companies that are strong are buying more, Guimm said. They re not looking for cheaper stuff. They re looking for better quality. Retailers and manufacturers are working together to survive what economists Kids companies are thinking out of the sandbox. By Anne Riley-Katz FROM COST TO COLOR, CHILDREN S APPAREL vendors are finding new ways to differentiate their product and shore up business. Retailers continue to feel the pain of the recession, but kids wear exhibitors at the show are adjusting approaches and expectations for the year ahead. For emerging brands trying to find stable footing in the market, just making the trek to larger trade shows is a big part of their business strategy for Summer Nakagawa, who cofounded Hawaii-based children s label Sn-r-g, said she hoped the upstart label s all-organic materials and vibrant colors would gain traction at the show. The line includes onesies and toddler T-shirts, which come in nine styles and a range of colors and wholesale for $12 apiece. It s different from most organic lines, which are really muted shades like beige, white, or gray, and way more fun than the typical pastel palette for baby clothes, Nakagawa said. I think people will respond to that. Heading to MAGIC is expensive for new businesses and long-distance travelers like Sn-r-g, but Nakagawa said the cost was something she and her Play Date co-founders felt would net orders and visibility. This will be the way we gauge response, Nakagawa said. We always have felt like more of a boutique brand, but this could be the opportunity to break out. So far we haven t really been about the big chain stores, but we ll see what happens. Penelope Wildberry, a Las Vegas-based line known mainly for its high-end hand-painted sheepskin boots, is expanding with children s apparel, featuring custompainted artwork by John O Leary, who founded the rock n roll hippie-style line with his wife, Stacy, more than two years ago. The boots are already carried in national retailers like Neiman Marcus and boutiques including Fred Segal and Kitson. Our move into apparel is based on what our customers want, which really is the key to success right now in the apparel business, said brand manager Alison Gallaher. We started in 2007, so we haven t had to change much of anything through the recession. Our price points have stayed essentially the same. At retail prices of up to $170 for children s boots and children s activewear starting at $69, Penelope have dubbed the Great Recession. A number of companies are focusing on products that can be shipped in the first half of the year, even though the February trade shows are traditionally marked for displaying fall merchandise. That s because retailers are often waiting until the last minute to place orders. People started working closer to season a couple of years ago, when the economy went bad, said Warren Hong, sales representative at Vernon, Calif.- based Salt & Pepper Clothing, a $50 million company that produces the Flying Tomato label. While Salt & Pepper usually shows products that can be delivered within three months, Hong said a show like WWDMAGIC could help his team with forecasting upcoming designs and sales. The only accounts that normally see advanced collections are major department stores and national chains such as The Buckle, he added. For a better read of the teenager s mind, New Breed Girl is tapping into the Internet. Patrick Wood, vice president, said, This year will be all about social networking, blogging to our fans, pushing creativity, quality and branding and, more importantly, reaching out directly to our core consumers. Wildberry is more expensive than the average kids brand. But Gallaher said she feels a strong celebrity following (Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani) has garnered the brand plenty of valuable media exposure. Still, experienced apparel brands acknowledge the recession-worn road ahead won t be easy to navigate, and are trying to adjust their strategies accordingly. For those who ve seen foot traffic and orders fall over the past several years, the name of the game is making up for the drop-off in buyers with greater volume per order. Our move into apparel is based on what our customers want, which really is the key to success right now in the apparel business. Alison Gallaher, Penelope Wildberry We are aware of what s going on out there. Buyers are smaller and fewer and being conservative with the orders, said Jeph Hemmer, co-founder of Avatar Imports, a MAGIC exhibitor for about 15 years. But that s what can set vendors like us apart. We ve seen hard times before and we re still here.
20 20 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II MAGIC E-Traders Cause-related marketing helps green brands build business. By Matthew Lynch By Matthew Lynch LIKE THEIR MORE TRADITIONAL COUNTERPARTS, VENDORS SET TO SHOW AT Ecollections the MAGIC segment devoted to eco-minded brands have had to deal with less-than-optimal business conditions in the last year or two. But many are bringing a sense of optimism to the trade show this year as drastic inventory controls begin to ease, orders pick up and more consumers think green. At Chicago-based Mata Traders Ltd., co-owner Michelle King said she s seen an increased interest in the company s fair trade-produced apparel in the past two years. Last year, one of our biggest customers closed, and we were thinking this year was going to be even worse but at the trade shows, our performance has been really [good], King said. Right now, green is so big. The company, which produces its line through co-ops in India, has seen growth throughout the recession and expects sales to continue to climb this year, King said. The way that we manufacture is all done on a smaller scale, so the upside is that we re not so huge that we can t cover our expenses, King said. It s still scalable, but your bread and butter is little stores in the U.S. that replace orders all the time. We weren t already overextended. I feel like when [the downturn] happened, a lot of people were overextended. The company s dresses, skirts and tops wholesale between $17 and $32 while its accessories range from $2.50 to $12. Newcomer Lonesome George & Co. will bring its conservationist-minded men s and women s apparel to Ecollections for the first time this year. Owner Eduardo Balarezo named the firm after what is believed to be the last Galapagos Pinta tortoise in existence. Until now, Balarezo sold the line mostly to visitors to the Ecuadorian nature preserve that George calls home, as well as in some surrounding areas. We decided to create this commercial arm to fund the projects.we wanted to really focus on tapping into the flow of the eco-tourists, he said. Those people are out there and they have big checks, and they don t mind spending money in ways that impact the community. Balarezo said he was encouraged to bring Lonesome George & Co. to Ecollections Mata Traders organic cotton dress. Girlprops earrings. after positive feedback from potential partners in Europe and Japan. The company will showcase its first organic cotton line as well as other George-branded basics. T-shirts wholesale from $13 to $28 and simple dresses range from $48 to $50. Balarezo said the firm hadn t experienced much of a downturn during the economic crisis, adding that 18 percent of its bottom line went to conservation efforts and related causes last year. Elizabeth Searle, designer for exhibitor Earth Co. b. organic, said she s mainly seen interest pick up for its organic cotton basics and sales improve on a consistent basis, though she did say the recession had changed some retailers stocking habits. I do notice that some people are waiting til the last minute [to reorder], she said. I think those small boutiques are trying to get rid of everything before they reorder. Earth Co. b. organic expects to meet its sales targets for the year, Searle said. The company s tops and pants, made from organic cotton grown on locally owned African farms, wholesale between $7 and $18. Searle said that despite the pickup in green interest, style still comes first. It has to be fashion forward, the designer said. If it s organic on top of that, it s a plus. Walleska Ecochicc owner Walleska Tepping agreed on the fashion front. Tepping is returning to Ecollections this year with her line of apparel and accessories made of repurposed aluminum beverage cans and recycled glass. Her pieces wholesale between $25 and $255, and she said her retail customers often buy larger bags and kimonos as a way to attract consumers to their storefronts. They buy the bigger pieces as a way to make a statement, as a way to draw the customer in, Tepping said. The recession has affected sales, she pointed out, but she s added new accounts recently and is optimistic for the year ahead: As far as my reorders, I d love them to be doubled but they re still there, so I m blessed. PHOTO BY ROBERT MITRA; MODEL: BETTINE/MUSE; HAIR BY JOEL GUNDERSON FOR CUTLER/REDKEN AT ATELIER MANAGEMENT; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: ASHLEY JOHNSON; STYLED BY KIM FRIDAY; LOCATION: HOMESTEAD INN THOMAS HENKELMANN, HOMESTEADINN.COM THE TRAIN & THE BOX NEW YORK THE INTERNATIONAL FASHION TRADESHOW Credit: FEBRUARY TH 22 ND FALL/WINTER AT THE TERMINAL STORES th Avenue (bet. 27 th & 28 th Streets) New York, NY contact:
21 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, WWD.COM Fill er Up Dress and sportswear houses say stores are starting to stock up again. By Rosemary Feitelberg WITH STORES STARTING TO REPLENISH INVENTORIES THAT WERE depleted in response to last year s lackluster retail sales, executives are eager to tap into that buying frenzy. Vineyard Vines is on the move to build its women s business. The company recently hired JoAnn Slattery as vice president of women s and children s wholesale. Most recently, she held that same title at Tory Burch. Vineyard Vine aims to increase this year s sales by 20 percent compared with last year, according to Jeff Wheeler, vice president of the men s and golf wholesale divisions. We re focused on getting existing accounts to commit to our basics and in-stock program. This business has always been strong for us, and we see even more potential. For example, our men s collection has recently expanded its polo offering from eight to 33 in-stock colors, he said. The brand is also trying to broaden its reach geographically and demographically. Our collection has expanded (particularly women s) and we hope to capture new audiences this year, Wheeler said. We will focus on moving into new markets where we don t have strong wholesale distribution, and hope to open new accounts that appeal to a new customer altogether. Third, Vineyard Vines is continuing to expand its customized business with wholesale accounts, a strategy that has been incredibly successful in the past couple of years, he said. Buyers are finally loosening up their inventories and bringing in more merchandise. Our pre-booking for fall 2010 is significantly higher than it has been in past seasons. We feel very positive about the year ahead. Joseph Simkhai, president of Ravel USA, a $5 million New York-based blouse company, will introduce outerwear and a greater assortment of sweaters and tops at the show. Blouses account for 80 percent of the company s sales. We want to give a bigger range of what the customer wants, he said. Water-resistant zip-front polyester and nylon jackets will wholesale from $59 to $89. Sweaters and tops will range from $25 to $49. Items made of polyamide, a moisture-wicking fabric that is produced in Paris and Brazil, should be of particular interest, Simkhai added. While in Paris, a city he visits frequently to get a read on trends, he noticed that many blouse companies had branched out to outerwear and sweaters. For me, Paris is an inspiration. If they are doing it, we have to do it, he said. Showing in Las Vegas allows Simkhai to get a sense for what will be popular in different regions of the country. If you go to a show in Dallas, they like a lot of color, while in New England, they like everything in gray and brown. Las Vegas gives a good read for the whole country, he said. Encouraged that major retailers like Bloomingdale s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie are no longer lamenting the downturn in the economy, Pure & Co., the maker of Cyrus rayon and nylon cardigan. Pure Handknits, is expecting 2010 to be strong, according to Lyn Baskett, vice president of sales and marketing. While those big hitters were the first to cut back on inventory when business slowed down, now they are ramping up orders, she said. Last year, the label finished up with sales 4 percent down compared with 2008, Baskett said. For spring, Pure Handknits is offering more lightweight options and more artisan-type features such as laser cuts, lace embellishment and chunky knits. The company is branching out into the U.K. and Australia, an initiative that started last year, Baskett said. Neon Buddha, another label produced by Pure, is offering more work-to-weekend options. Jackets have been particularly strong, Baskett said. 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22 22 WWD, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010 SECTION II WWD.COM MAGIC Need for Speed Divine Rights of Denim s cotton and spandex jeggings. Immediate delivery is barely fast enough. By Ross Tucker VENDORS EXHIBITING IN WWDMAGIC S PREmium segment, a recent addition to the show, anticipate encountering a pool of buyers that are more optimistic in their outlook for the year, but are still cautious when it comes to writing orders. Executives and sales representatives from several labels in the section have had a chance to participate in smaller regional trade shows around the country over the last month. What they found was that more buyers focused on bringing in only the most unique product they could find and quickly. Although economic conditions and buyers moods have improved, orders are being put off as late as possible. In fact, the degree of success premium vendors will achieve at MAGIC could hinge largely on their ability to turn product quickly. I think first people are really going to buy immediates, because people are buying so close to season, said Ginger Vasquez, owner of Ginger Showroom. Vasquez will represent the Charlie Jade label at the show, which until January had gone under the name Haven. Immediate business, if you have it, is going to be really good. Vasquez said she has seen business pick up significantly since the beginning of the year, but price sensitivity remains. People are more price-sensitive, she said. Again, stores will pick up a better-priced garment if it s absolutely a must-have, but in general there s such great product offered at good prices, that price has gotten more relevant. And while buyers will pay for items they deem as must-haves, they are buying less of it than in years past, she added. The name change to Charlie Jade came about in mid-january after the label was purchased by a new owner. Vasquez said the designer, concept and fabrics of the line remain the same. Dresses wholesale from $44 to $56 and blouses from $34 to $42. Gareth Rondell, owner and founder of Rock62, has also seen business pick up significantly since the Immediate business, if you have it, is going to be really good. Ginger Vasquez, Ginger Showroom first of the year. I m considerably happier knowing that I m going into this even already from two big events in January that have secured significant orders, said Rondell. Immediates are the key to Rondell s business, made possible by the fact that all Rock62 s products are domestically manufactured. Our T-shirt business is built upon immediates, said Rondell. We make everything to order. As a result, because of the change in trends for buyers, it s helped me considerably. Rondell believes buyers enter shows these days not wanting to exhaust their budgets on one or two big orders. The days of buyers overextending themselves, he added, are over. I think buyers have been too stretched, and they ve realized that themselves now, he said. Wholesale prices for Rock62 range between $20 and $60. Michelle Waller, designer and owner of Royal Plush, transitioned to all domestic manufacturing about six months ago, which has also allowed her to capture more immediates business and to offer more customized products to her clients. Now if we have an important customer that says, I have to have that in a month, I can cut it and ship it, said Waller. It s a positive because you can do special things for people like Bloomingdale s. With overseas [production], everything was a big deal. The Los Angeles-based label now has its production facilities in its own back yard. It s an advantage for speed and flexibility, but Waller also noted it can also be time-consuming. She s spending more time at the facility working on the product, which keeps her out of the office. Still, she said, it s a good Velvet Heart s cotton jersey T-shirt and cotton and spandex leggings. Stetson hat; Girlprops earrings. problem to have. A trend shift has also helped allow for quicker product turnaround. The trend is a lot cleaner right now, she said. That helps with lead times, as well. Waller has also made a number of other moves to ride through the difficult economy and keep momentum going. Last year Royal Plush launched a fashion activewear line to complement the core line of casual contemporary lifestyle apparel. It s been a savior for us because the price points are better, said Waller of the collection, which carries wholesale prices from $18 to $44. Waller also lowered prices on the core business a bit, but ramped up marketing initiatives to get Royal Plush on celebrities. The company even inked a deal to produce a co-branded line with The Real Housewives reality TV show. Said Waller, We just feel that to survive in this environment, you just need to keep twisting and turning. PHOTOS BY ROBERT MITRA; MODEL: DIANA PENTY/MUSE; HAIR BY JOEL GUNDERSON FOR CUTLER/REDKEN AT ATELIER MANAGEMENT; MAKEUP BY WILLIAM MURPHY USING MAC; FASHION ASSISTANT: ASHLEY JOHNSON; STYLED BY KIM FRIDAY; LOCATION: HOMESTEAD INN THOMAS HENKELMANN, HOMESTEADINN.COM
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