By Kelli Freeman
Many buyers at the West Coast Trend Show in Los Angeles reported a renewed sense of enthusiasm looking to Fall 2014. “Business is up 22 percent from this time last year,” says George Fangmann of George’s in Tucson, Arizona. Fangmann attributes that success to their closing 53-year-old Franklin’s and opening George’s in October 2013. The new 1,600 sq. ft. store is located in the upscale foothills of Tuscon. “We cater to a global and more resort customer, so we carry unique blends of sportswear lines from Peter Millar and Thaddeus to Bugatchi and unique hard good items. We’ve built our whole Jack Black skincare and shaving products around the cash register along with watches and other accessories.” George’s also features a bar in the back with a big screen TV “Not a lot of drinking but a ton of socializing.” The rear of the store opens up to a Tuscan-like restaurant which Fangmann says works really well.
The positive feeling was shared by Sharam Sharei of Corte Madera, Calif.-based Barcelino. “We had an exceptionally good January, I hope it keeps up.”
Irene Becker at Alandales in Culver City, Calif. is cautiously optimistic as well: “We had a huge January,” she reports. Becker was partial to the stunning darker muted colors and lush fabrics in sport coats including the soft shoulder from Zachary Prell.
Asked what this season’s key would be, Fangmann says, “It’s pretty clear to me everyone has a quarter-zip [sweater[ and a vest in every line.”
Other candidates include Viyella’s interpretation of an old classic shirt, topped with a wool knit and woven pattern. And their lightweight reversible merino wool sweater.
Chris Bryant at Outlander in Healdsburg, Calif. likes the darker plaids in the shirts and adds that he’s selling longer car coats.
Massoud Emami from Anderson and Emami in Spokane, Wash. says he’s selling out of jeans: “I never had a line of denim that has performed at retail as well as 34 Heritage.” They’re also killing it with sweaters, particularly new designs from Maker & Co.
Patrick Mon Pere from Patrick James in Fresno, Calif. sums it up this way: “The trends still seem to be about fit and fabric. The slimmer fits are now pretty much established across the board with most vendors and are driving the business. Most items we’re landing on are much less embellished than they have been in the past from a mixed media standpoint. They’re either relevant due to a great model or fabric treatment. Our core group of vendors continue to improve on what they do well, but nothing has leapt out as a homerun volume item that we can use to drive business.”
Bottom line, it’s about the customer says West Coast sales agent Ken Haruta. “Some of the retail trends that I’m seeing are the number of customers walking into specialty stores declining. Retailers have to train their staff to sell more to each customer and focus on raising the bar on customer service. We are in a relationship business. Many of the stores that I visit recognize their customers by their first and last name and know something about their family and that is one thing that sets them apart from their competitors.”