The New Order of ‘Shopping the Market’
Buyers are now shopping U.S. regional markets for product variety and fashion forward styling!
The road to international buying and selling seems to be paved now through regional markets and industry networks. Retailers are finding that the best way into the U.S. market may be through the discovery of regional preferences, rather than the New York Nerve center.
Regional markets, with temporary leasing deals and special promotions, offer a lucrative toe-hold, especially for international lines. The market groups, such as the Fashion District in Los Angeles, portray themselves as gentler alternative to New York, offering enhanced hospitality, convenience and access. Fashion Market Buildings offer temporary deals, where companies can test markets without committing to a permanent space. Receptions and fashion shows help to introduce them to buyers and sales reps.
Contemporary and international brands, with their distinctive styling, have already been discovered by U.S. buyers. The primary clientele of regional markets are the independent specialty stores, who clamor for lines that set them apart from the competition of the major mall-based retailers and their monthly ‘sales’. Retailers worldwide want direct routes to hot U.S lines to satisfy brand-hungry consumers. Truly, in 2013, retailers (particularly in the U.S.) want constant newness.
Teenage customers are the same all over the world; they want the looks on MTV, in magazines and on the internet. California’s large branded manufacturing sector showcases its strength in juniors, contemporary and denim categories, making it a natural draw for international accounts. Fashion apparel represents the largest manufacturing sector in L.A. and the second largest in California, with annual wholesale volume of more than $25 billion, according to current statistics from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.
Fit, fabric and color differences are apparent in the different market regions. Heavy wools may work for cold climates, but buyers in the Sunbelt regions may never see even the lightest wool. California’s brands show lightweight fabrics, more color, updated styling, and much more variety.
International business has grown significantly for Los Angeles. The Fashion District draws buyers from 34 countries, including Asia, Central, and South America, and works with foreign delegations to bring in more global ‘partners’. The effort has intensified over the years, offering ever more temporary showcases and fashion presentations.
While the potential is undeniable, pitfalls remain. International lines see the U.S. as a pot of gold; they look for the big hit with a large order from major retailers, but do not take the time to establish credibility with independent retailers first. One hurdle they face is the different buying style of U.S. retailers. U.S. buyers, with many choices, initially place relatively small orders with a variety of lines.
Most companies builds their international sales through a network of agents, distributors, and licensing deals, along with e-commerce; also showing at trade shows such as Las Vegas’ MAGIC. Setting up business internationally can be tricky. There are so many issues; sizing, currency, freight, customs, government regulation, trademarks, etc. No one entity can take care of everything; - CFA has a network of people that can.
Part of the mission of the California Fashion Association is to bring international business to California. The CFA membership includes apparel and textile manufacturers, and related services, such as freight forwarders, package developers, marketers, lawyers, accountants, and bankers; all essential to domestic and international retailing.
- Ilse Metchek, California Fashion Association
- Los Angeles, CA
- Ilse Metchek, the President of the California Fashion association (CFA), created the organization in 1994, with assistance from the major financial and manufacturing participants of the region’s apparel industry. The CFA provides leaders of the Southern California’s manufacturing and textile community with the opportunity to share information about the business of conducting business in the current global economy.