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Retailers at West Coast Trend Show Searching for Newness
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February 05, 2010
by Deborah Belgum, Senior Editor

  SWISS DESIGNED: Ralph Odenberg, left, and John Faul sport Victorinox outerwear that they represent.

  WISE DECISION: Allison Basile designs and sells this new line of contemporary shirts under the Age of Wisdom label.

  QUIK SHOP: Quiksilver had this trio of shirts on display at the West Coast Trend Show.

Menswear buyers at the twice-a-year West Coast Trend Show in Los Angeles were greeting the new year with caution but optimism.

Stores were looking for fresh items that came at lower prices to attract shoppers still shell-shocked from the nearly 2-year-old recession that seems to be fading away very slowly.

gMost of the stores are telling me they had a difficult year. Very few are ahead,h said Crittenden Rawlings, who owns Crittenden Clothes, a 6-year-old line out of Lexington, Ky., that makes French-facing soft jackets, silk-lined vests and cotton flannel shirts for high-end stores. gBut retailers have said their inventory is in better shape and they have trimmed overhead. With any upturn, they should throw off good profits.h

This is the fourth season for the West Coast Trend Show, held Jan. 30|Feb. 1 at the Embassy Suites LAX North, located near Los Angeles International Airport. Traffic at the relatively new menswear show was up 40 percent this year over last Januaryfs event with 130 registered store buyers, said Ken Haruta, the showfs organizer, who also reps Scott Barber, Sanyo, Corneliani, Saltaire, Leather Island/Soft Collection Belts by Bill Lavin and Report Collection.

Buyers attending West Coast Trend roamed through 71 hotel suites stocked with more than 200 lines that encompassed everything from fashionable activewear to high-end shirts and suits for Fall 2010.

Sales representatives were busy sitting down with buyers and seeing what Fall had to offer. gThe show is going really well,h said John Faul, whose Red Zone Agency in Newport Beach, Calif., represents apparel lines such as Victorinox, Red Jacket and 1921 Denim. gThere is a much more upbeat attitude than last year.h

Ralph Odenberg, also with the Red Zone Agency, said retailers were in a better position this year to keep costs down and work on profits by carrying different brands and clothing that exuded fashion and newness. He said many stores were well-stocked last year with the same old big brands carried by their competitors. gThey canft do that anymore,h Odenberg said.

He also noted that retailers are chasing after a 30-something customer who frequently buys clothes for his work, play and social life. Customers over the age of 50 are sticking with their Tommy Bahama shirts.

With uniqueness in mind, Red Zone Agency carries the Red Jacket line of specially washed T-shirts imprinted with vintage baseball-team logos, which sells in upscale stores such as Nordstrom. Five years ago, Victorinox Swiss Army, known for its Swiss Army knives, developed a line of fashionable clothes with a technical edge. Jackets are made of high-tech fabrics that are thin but warm with special places for cell phones, iPods and keys. gOur idea was to represent different products,h Faul said.


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