Trade Show Report

Rock Flower Paper booth
Rock Flower Paper booth


Fashion Market Northern California Reports Good Biz Despite Snow

By Andrew Asch | Thursday, April 19, 2018
Ellen Brook booth | Photo by Karen Anderson

SAN MATEO, Calif.—Snow and hail fell on parts of the San Francisco Bay Area on April 16, but it didn’t put much of a damper on business at the Fashion Market Northern California trade show, vendors and show management said.

Space was sold out at the recent run of the show, which ran April 15–17 at the San Mateo County Event Center, which is about a 40-minute drive south of San Francisco. Stephanie Harris,

president of the executive committee of the board of show vendors that runs FMNC, detected a slight dip in attendance Monday, the date of the most inclement weather. “Overall, it was a very busy show,” Harris said. “Sunday was crazy.” At FMNC, Harris represented brands Habitat, Clothing and Caite as well as Kyla Seo and Love Kyla, which are divisions of Caite.

Another vendor, Stuart Marcher, also said traffic was busy throughout the three-day run of FMNC. Busy traffic also brought good business. He estimated that his sales increased 10 percent compared to his FMNC show of April 2017. At this edition, he introduced sweater line Unwine, with a wholesale price range of $59 to $195. “We launched late,” he said of the line. “Most sweater dollars have already been spent, but it was something they have not seen, and they are making room for it.” He represents Julie & Stuart Marcher Ltd.

Lilly Stamets, a retail consultant who walked FMNC, said show attendance was good because the economy is fairly good. “I don’t think I’ve seen a more upbeat season for buying,” Stamets said. Stamets, who runs Premier Retail Consulting, also noted that business at trade shows serving Northern California stores should be good. It’s the home of Silicon Valley, one of the powerhouses of the U.S. economy.

There is confidence in the wider economy. While the influential Consumer Confidence Index dipped in March, consumer outlook continues to be favorable, said Lynne Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, which maintains the index.

FMNC mostly attracts independent boutiques from the San Francisco Bay Area and across Northern California. It is devoted to women’s fashions, accessories and gifts. It runs five times a year, and the April and October shows are typically the busiest. For this show, Mary Taft, FMNC’s executive director, said that it attracted some out-of-state shops hailing from Alaska, Oklahoma, Idaho and Arizona.

Ute Wegmann, chairwoman of the FMNC board, said that her organization has been looking to do increased buyer outreach on behalf of the show. Deals include paying for one night of hotel stays for buyers traveling to the show for the first time. Wegmann ran two 20-by-20 booths at FMNC. One booth was devoted to goods for immediate delivery. The other was devoted to Fall goods, with deliveries that start July 1. She represented brands including Fraas, a German scarf and wrap line;Lauer Gloves; and CoFi, a Mexican leather accessories line.

Jeanette Clarey, founder of the 1,400-square-foot J.Fermi, a women’s boutique in Petaluma, Calif., also shopped the show. She saw trends such as polka dots on tops, faux-fur jackets and a focus on the color navy. “There was navy everywhere—on beautiful, long jackets and tops,” Clarey said.

The next FMNC is scheduled to run June 24–26 in San Mateo. It will focus on the Fall II season.