Trade Show Report

FMNC Courts Nor Cal Buyers With European Lines, Immediate Deliveries and New Brands

By Sarah Wolfson | Thursday, August 29, 2013

The August edition of Fashion Market Northern California is typically one of the smallest of the five shows held throughout the year at the San Mateo County Event Center in San Mateo, Calif. But for exhibitors that carry European brands—and those with a local retail clientele in Northern California—the recent show, held Aug. 25–27, was successful.

“This is always a smaller show, but we still had 15 new exhibitors showing and a number of people showing interest in European brands,” said FMNC Executive Director Suzanne De Groot.

To cater to those buyers, the show offers plenty of perks, including free parking for buyers.

Exhibitor Peter Jacobson described the traffic as steady. Although the turnout in August is less than other shows, Jacobson said he and his staff were working to the last minute.

Through his company FashionLink, Jacobson distributes several European collections—including Aventures des Toile, Beate Heymann Street Couture, Et Compagnie, Indies, La Fee Maraboutee and Miki Mialy. Jacobson’s showroom, Creative Concepts, is the West Coast agent for these brands, as well as Rodika Zanian.

Jacobson said he booked a lot of appointments with specialty stores at the San Mateo show. Retailers are looking for something special, a reason to buy and a reason to get the customer in the store, he said, adding they are willing to invest in products that are retailing well.

The showroom owner exhibited at WWDMAGIC in Las Vegas the week before the San Mateo show but said the two shows draw different retailers.

“MAGIC is more national-based, and FMNC is more regional,” Jacobson said.

Lori Markman Showroom, based in San Francisco, carries well-known brands such as Toms, Johnny Was, Weston Wear and Biya.

“We like to say we dress people from head to toe, using a lot layers,” said showroom owner Lori Markman, a longtime, consistent exhibitor at FMNC.

“We get a lot of new people visiting and appointments, as well,” she said. “I always show with [show organizer] Golden Gate Apparel Association—for 30 years now, so I am pretty loyal.”

When the shows don’t overlap, Markman will often also exhibit at CALA, a primarily women’s contemporary trade show held in San Francisco.

“People tend to like it at [FMNC],” Markman said. “The venue is an open-booth format, and we get a lot of good Los Angeles vendors, so it is a good show.”

Jamie Prince, owner of Jamie Prince Sales in the Gerry Building in Los Angeles, said she attends FMNC five times a year. “Even though the August show is smaller, I come because I have European collections,” Prince said. “I have to get my orders in right away because some of the lines are closing before October 2013. Although I went to Vegas, I find a lot of my Los Angeles accounts go to Vegas, and Northern California customers do not.”

Prince carries brands such as Clear Concept, based in France, and Alembika, based in Israel.

Lesley McEntire, owner of the Shift Showroom in The New Mart in Los Angeles, was upbeat about the show—and the business overall. “It was a great and wonderful show,” McEntire said. “It seems there is an up trend at retail level for at least eight months now, and retailers are showing more confidence in their buying.”

McEntire said regional shows such as FMNC tend to be a better fit for her customers. Shift represents a mix of forward international and national brands. McEntire said retailers were looking for Immediates and merchandise that was not too dressy and more casual.

First-time exhibitor Gayle Haworth picked up several orders for her fashionable reading-glasses collection, Flutter Eyewear. The company launched last year and previously sold only online and at trunk shows.

“We really wanted to start going into retail locations where customers can touch and feel the glasses, and the Web is no replacement for that,” Haworth said. “We thought it would be a good idea to exhibit at a place with fashionable clothing because we think we are the ideal accessory for women at a certain age. It was a great show, and everyone seemed to love the variety in glasses we carry.”

Wholesale price points for standard eyeglasses are $42, and sun readers are $47.