My name is Meghan Bachman, from Portland Oregon and I’m in the process of starting a clothing line called Bandito. Kathleen asked me to write about some of my impressions and experiences and I hope you find this helpful if you haven’t been to a trade show yet. This was my first time at MAGIC and I’m completely happy I went.
Firstly, walking through the different shows at MAGIC were inspirational. Just to see what everyone is doing, how it’s all laid out, figuring out where I think my line fits into the big picture. I loved the STREETWEAR show which is about 80% hip-hop clothing. So you’re walking though this huge room with loud hip hop coming out of every booth, the booths themselves are these crazy tripped out constructions/environments, deejays everywhere, scantily clad models, it’s just a big scene. And even though I’m not particularly into that culture, it was hard to not be inspired by it. Also in the STREETWEAR show is a smaller area of “underground” clothing. This is stuff like club-wear, gothic/industrial/fetish, tattoo-inspired clothing lines, shoes/boots and jewelry.
I was traveling with a friend who owns a goth/industrial boutique so it was nice to sit in on a few of her buying visits with some of those vendors. I asked her, overall, what types of minimums these vendors require, and she said it’s anywhere between $100 to $1,000 and seems to be completely random. I also asked her what the average delivery date is for the orders she made and her answer was “from 2 weeks to never.” She’s pretty much used to placing orders that never get filled. And she also said that in her experience when vendors drop styles they don’t ever call and tell her. I know Kathleen has told us all this, but it’s a good thing to hold onto – always call the buyers to let them know a style has been dropped, it makes them very happy!
I also really enjoyed POOL. It was taking place in a big tent across the street from the convention center. POOL is like the artsy hip white version of what was going on in the hip-hop streetwear show at MAGIC. A lot of small designers presenting their lines, from cute women’s apparel, funky original designs, accessories and lots of t-shirts. Lots and lots of t-shirts with cool artsy designs on them. POOL is a curated show so I suppose somewhat exclusive, but I would hope booth space is cheaper than at MAGIC, but who knows. I could see my line fitting in at POOL, but I also wonder if they get nearly as much foot traffic as vendors at MAGIC.
I attended the Fashion 101: How to start a clothing line seminar. It was presented by Mercedes Gonzalez who is a buyer for a company called Global Purchasing Companies. I did enjoy the seminar and got some great thinking points out of it. (i.e. Who will you “hang” with?) She said, “I don’t recommend that you design a line and then try to fit it to a target market. I think you should really know that market and then think about what is missing or needed or that can be done better.” I felt like the information she presented, as a retailer, was complementary to Kathleen’s book. The one point I feel that she missed was that most DEs are getting into the business because they’re passionate about the “sewn products” they’re trying to manufacture and that it’s not all about the money. That said though, I did shell out $50 for the printed version of her presentation because I need all the help I can get!
I also went to the Label Networks’ Global Street Trends Seminar and it kind of blew me away. I’m fascinated that Label Networks even exists – they are an intelligence gathering organization studying global youth street trends, specifically the 13-30 year old market. It was a big eye opener for me to see how street trends are influencing the runway trends – and how it’s all about a vibrant street culture and people collaborating and being active in their communities – GREEN is big and is here to stay, and grassroots marketing is where its at. Label Networks puts out a trend report which I will be checking out. Use this link to access it (User ID: Magic Password: 70741).
And lastly, I spent some time in the SOURCING part of the show. I had originally hoped that I could find some good fabric connections, but most if not all of the fabric vendors were from Asia. As someone starting my very first collection, it’s definitely intimidating working with an overseas company. But I got past my nervousness and just started talking to some of them. I met some really nice people and collected lots of information. One company had an LA-based sales rep so I actually picked out some swatches and left my info – hopefully they’ll call. They tried to scare me away with their 500 yd minimum but I didn’t flinch!
I am totally pumped about getting my line going – not that I wasn’t before, but I have more drive now and more inspiration. And I feel like my vision is grander too. I’m still starting out small but the direction I’m going in has definitely been influenced about being there. I highly recommend DEs to go check it out – it’s fun and inspiring.