Trade Show Report

“Seasonless” Trends Key at Fashion Market Northern California

By Sarah Wolfson | Friday, April 26, 2013


The Fashion Market Northern California trade show, held April 14–16 at the San Mateo County Event Center, grew about 10 percent in size, with 25 new vendors showing, said Executive Director Suzanne De Groot.

“We had a number of new people from Southern California showing, with showrooms in Los Angeles and a couple of people from back east, including Chicago and New York. We are expanding our website, as well, updating it with photography coverage of the show and looking to continue to do that with a rebranding of our logo that will probably happen at the October show,” De Groot said.

For Nancy Morgan of Yala designs, the Northern California marketplace served as a perfect destination to establish her brand and build relationships with new buyers from Northern and Southern California.

The Ashland, Ore.–based company features clean, nautical-themed women’s and children’s apparel made of bamboo and organic cotton. “We would like to maintain a sustainable edge,” Morgan said.

Morgan said Yala usually attends the gift shows in New York, Dallas and San Francisco. FMNC was her first time exhibiting at an apparel show. The company has been in business for about 15 years under another name, Dream Sacks, which produced travel products. The eco-friendly company transitioned into home products and, eventually, into apparel, consisting of “season-to-season” tops that wholesale for $26; tanks dresses, priced from $28 to $40; and cotton pieces, priced from $30 to $40.

Jewelry designer Jessica Richards, another first-time exhibitor, makes delicate, feminine pieces out of sterling silver, some recycled silver and fine silver, adding gemstones ranging from pyrites and onyx to quartz. “I like anything that is pretty and stands out,” Richards said.

Her Northern California–based Jess Kay Designs started out four years ago, but it was not until a few months ago that Richards decided to get into the wholesale market. Earrings are priced from $25 to $50, and necklaces sell for $25 to $75.

The designer said she had a positive experience at the show, gaining a lot of positive feedback from prospective customers.

San Rafael, Calif.–based designer Julie McDonald has attended FMNC every April for the past three years. FMNC is typically an appointment-driven show for her line, Jules Elin. “Last April was exceptionally good with new customers. We have had a bit less new accounts this time around,” McDonald said, “But all in all, this market has been really good.”

McDonald’s collection includes skirts that wholesale for $28, tops for $40 to $48, and dresses for $60 to $70, all of which come in organic-blend fabrics.

Michael Gae, of Rep et Trios showroom in the California Market Center in Los Angeles, is a fashion-industry veteran who said FMNC is a “comfortable marketplace to work in—not very intense—and everyone gets along, including reps and customers.” He continued, “It is a pleasant working environment.”

Gae represents the Miilla clothing line, a “seasonless” collection of sweaters and knits that wholesale for $24 to $28.

“My line is neither Fall nor Spring, and from a trend standpoint, Miilla is forward thinking in how it sells,” Gae said. “A retailer never has to mark the price down because the colors stay [relevant] year round.”

Designer representative Lesley McEntire—who carries a mix of international and domestic brands, including Deca out of Paris; Mos Mosh, based in Denmark; and Moyuru, a Japanese brand,as well as Ilux, Ivko, Kontatto, Alashan, Babette, Moloko, Rosemunde Skif and Zoe Couture—said buyers at FMNC were looking for special-occasion items, more novelty driven, not basic.

“Our designers show early, but a bulk of vendors here show Fall, so we tend to carry specialty pieces [for this season’s show],” McEntire said. “We do not typically do appointment-based accounts, but we had a lot of walk-ins, opening 10 new accounts this time around.”

Wholesale price points range from $60 to $300 with most priced from $100 to $140.

Deborah Blum, who operates the Deborah Blum showroom in the Gerry Building in downtown Los Angeles, carries an array of better and contemporary collections for women who have a flair for the arts and culture. They include Fly Line, an Italian knitwear line with a Fall color palette, and sweater line Lomaggi, which wholesales for $40 to $90, depending on the fabric. The line features both acrylic and alpaca pieces. Avivit Yizhar, by Israeli designer Avivit Yizhar, is for artistic women who appreciate layered and drapey pieces, and it wholesales for $85 to $119. “If you are 50 or 60 years of age and have a few lumps but have the hip head [of a stylish woman], this line is for you,” Blum said.

Blum also carries Lisa Todd, a misses and plus-size collection founded by Florida retailer Lisa Todd. The collection is available in two divisions—one more fun and whimsical and the other more reserved and sophisticated.

“I received a great response this market, partially because we show according to temperature, meaning we pick up items according to the season,” Blum said.