Vendors at four trade shows at Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center were largely optimistic about business prospects in 2020 and the upcoming orders they expect buyers to place, despite uncertainty around China’s coronavirus outbreak.
One reason for the optimism surrounding business conditions: most of their production is not based in China. Many higher-end and moderate brands are based in Europe, producing and sourcing locally in markets like Italy and France. Brands wholesaling with U.S. department stores typically manufacture in a variety countries beyond China.
Vendors at the main Coterie show, representing high-end contemporary brands, were showing lines for fall and a smattering of spring and summer options for immediate deliveries.
Nicole Miller, showing mostly fall and some options for immediate deliveries, featured jackets and tops with shoulder pads reminiscent of the Eighties. Indigo was a key color theme for the line, while tops featured puffy sleeves and neck ties. Sales representative Julia Rosten said traffic was busy at the start of the show Tuesday morning and expected it to pick up in the early afternoon. Nicole Miller has three deliveries for fall, with the first scheduled for July 30, and because sourcing has diversified beyond China, the brand is concerned about missing delivery dates, Rosten said.
At Molly Bracken, teal and peacock blue dominated the season’s color palette, and many patterns were pair with rust and terracotta shades, staple colors for the brand every fall. The brand produces some goods in China, but so far there’s been no word yet about any issues with fall production or delivery, sales representative Sandy Cuevas said. Spring and summer goods are “already in transit and are hitting our warehouses now,” she said, adding that buyer interest tends to pick up later in the week.
Dana Kress, director of merchandising Natori, wasn’t surprised the brand hadn’t received any orders as of early Tuesday, noting that the Dallas Market Show generates more traffic and business. “We have some production in China, but that’s limited to some knitwear,” he said, adding that he has not yet heard of any delays on the factory front and much of the line is produced in the Philippines.
Based in Seoul, MeeYou Int’l Co. Ltd. highlighted a pleated crepe-like fabric for a range of tops from vests to tunics and jackets, as well as a matching bottom. MeeYou also featured a seamless knit sweater that wholesales for $40. “Most of the production is in Korea, although some is in China,” Sookhee Kim, president, said through her daughter Jessica, who acted as translator. The brand’s factory partner in China has not been not impacted by the outbreak or resulting travel restrictions, Kim added, noting decent foot traffic Tuesday morning.
At the moderate contemporary show Moda, department-store staple Maggy London won’t have to worry about production disruptions. “We produce overseas using an array of factories, such as in Vietnam,” Anne Duchemin, sales associate, said, adding the women’s label does to manufacture in China. Maggy London showed options for spring through fall, like charmeuse and crepe fabrications and dresses in solid colors with novelty detailing. Mock necklines, along with neckties, were prevalent in the tops selection, while dresses emphasized empire waists and A-line silhouettes.
Sales associate Melissa Franz for Karen Kane, another department store favorite, showcased a new line of polyester knit sweaters made from recycled plastic for fall and summer deliveries. “We’ve been busy so far and traffic’s been consistent,” she said, noting that most of the line is produced domestically with a small component coming from overseas.
Tops and dresses brand Whimsy Rose is all American made, Steve Rosone, New York sales representative, said of the line. “The fabric is Made in the U.S.A., and it’s printed and shipped out of St. Louis. We have factories in New York and Massachusetts,” Rosone said. The brand is known for its colorful prints, and is sold primarily in specialty stores and in the Sundance catalog, he said.
Many of the other vendors, such as Angela Mara, offer Made in Italy product that is sourced locally, so there’s no concern about meeting fall deliveries set for Aug. 1, Sept. 1 and Oct. 1.
Brands showing at Fame, which gathers young contemporary labels, are the most exposed to China. Many of these brands sell to specialty doors that cater to the young adult, juniors and teen market. Brands that sell into this younger consumer market typically wholesale basic tops for $10 to $15, and bottoms starting higher. Wholesale price points for dresses start in the high teens to low twenties and outerwear and jackets can go as high as $30, on average.
Glam has received some spring and summer shipments, according to sales representative Joe Song. “There’s other shipments still that we expect to come in for spring and summer. Our office there had a two-week delay before it can reopen, and now we’re waiting to hear about our factory,” he said, which currently is set to reopen on Saturday. If Glam is forced to find alternative raw materials and fabrications elsewhere, “one option is Korea, but that’s two to three times more expensive,” Song said. Given the lower price points at wholesale, those added costs would also lower the company’s seasonal margins.
Mystree was showing some fall, but mostly items for spring, summer and immediate deliveries. “Fame used to be true fall, but buyers now are not buying forward into the season. Their concentration is buying up to three months ahead,” Mystree owner John Lee said. Mystree is in a good position with spring and summer merchandise, because those goods are already in their warehouses and ready to ship to stores as orders are place, he added.
“Fall could be an issue,” Lee said, noting that Mystree begins production about 12 months to 18 months ahead. Orders were finalized last September for Fall 2020, and the long lead time means fall cuts are mostly done and have been put into production. “They are supposed to ship by June for us to get for fall,” he said. That’s where there could be some concern, although Lee hasn’t yet heard about any shipment delays.
Best Mountain makes its goods in Paris, so it doesn’t have to worry about factory delays, KC Costello, sales representative, said. The line is showing apparel in mostly blues and terracotta, along with bulky sweaters for fall. Teddy bear coats are still big for fall, she said.
At footwear-focused Sole Commerce, most of the vendors didn’t seem to have any China production issues. “I have one style from Ilse Jacobson that’s the most popular one for the designer,” sales associate Ken Sollie said of the “Tulip” silhouette. Similar in design to a casual sneaker-influenced walking shoe, the footwear incorporates recycled microfiber for the top in a laster cut patter and features a natural rubber, flexible outsole for the bottom.
“There’s at least a one-week delay,” Sollie said. He’s still waiting for the factory to reopen, but said he expects to hear that another delay is likely in the works. Sollie also represents other footwear brands at the show, but said those line are produced elsewhere, such as Denmark and Brazil, where even the materials are sourced locally, especially because of the latter’s high customs duties on imported materials.