Monday, February 21, 2011

New York Market

On Sunday morning, I was on the 5:25 am Northeast Regional Amtrak train to New York for Fashion Coterie/Sole Commerce - the New York Market for Fall 2011 (I know...hard to believe).  It was a fantastic experience and definitely different from my first market experience in Atlanta in October of last year.  But, I will note, not different in a good or bad way.  Just different!

Union Station had NO restaurants or kiosks open serving coffee so I grabbed a table in the Cafe Car on the train and enjoyed my coffee and ride up.  We were actually 5 minutes early pulling into Penn Station in NY!

From my online research, I could see that Penn Station was slightly less than a mile from the Javits Center, where Coterie registration took place as well as 3 of my appointments.  The debate - did I walk (which would be practical and good for me and wouldn't harass a poor taxi driver to take me a mile away) or did I grab a cab (keep me out of the cold, unsure about the safety of the walk)?  When I emerged on the street at 33rd and 8th, I decided to walk.

Now, I'm not sorry I walked but I will say that was one of the coldest walks I've ever taken!  The temperature was about 25 degrees and the wind was blowing toward me off the Hudson River.  I was very glad that the walk was only about a mile!  And, as far as safety went, I didn't have to worry.  Between 8th and 9th Avenue, I passed a large gathering of policemen and women, meeting to plan their day.  I'm not sure I've ever seen so many police vehicles in one location.  I mostly passed restaurants and apartment buildings on my way to the Javits Center.

I had already registered online and had to pick up my badge at the registration desk.  They gave me a tote bag, a map, and a large magazine (one is printed each day of the show).  Since I was early for my first appointment, I strolled around and got the lay of the land.

Since Javits is a convention center, none of the booths are permanent booths - everything is temporary (in Atlanta, many of the spaces are permanent spaces with walls, the lower floors are temporary booths during market).  Everything is laid out in long aisles - walking through is like walking through a grid of city streets!  Thank goodness each location has an address and there are large signs hanging over the aisles to show what addresses are on that aisle.

The magazine they gave us (which I didn't have time to read until I was on the train coming back) said that there are 1,121 exhibitors (fashion lines), Expected attendees - 30,000 plus.  The booths at Javits cover International collections, Bridge lines, Eveningwear Collections, Contemporary Collections, and Denim (almost the entire 3rd floor is denim).  At a separate location (Pier 94), they have the shoe designers, more Contemporary Collections, and what they call their TMRW designers - new and emerging designers launching their first collections.

My first two appointments (with Chan Luu and Tracy Reese) went by quickly and easily.  Both of my Atlanta contacts for these two lines were at the NY show so I was working with people whom I had worked with previously.  In NY, the lines have models available and offer to have the models try on anything you'd like.

As soon as I was finished with Tracy Reese, I went outside the Javits Center to get the shuttle to Pier 94. The shuttle is a black 15 person van that drives back and forth between the two locations all day.  I was fortunate to get a seat!  Once I arrived at Pier 94, I took advantage of the free Cafe with food!  A spicy chicken dish with lots of vegetables.  Seating space was at a premium so I asked to sit with two young women speaking Russian.  You make lots of new friends in these situations.

I had four appointments at Pier 94 - Mother Denim, Velvet, Graham and Spencer, and Rebecca Taylor.  In the Velvet/Graham and Spencer area, it was VERY warm.  Now, I like being warm but this was bordering on too warm.  A couple of interesting notes from these meetings.  When I was looking at the Velvet line, it turned out I was sitting next to a buyer from Nordstrom!  Zoe...Nordstrom...I felt like I was in very prestigious circles!  On the other side of me, some women were looking at the line and then started complaining that they "couldn't look - it was too hot."  That's definitely a new one!  With all of these lines as well, I was working with people I had met in Atlanta.  (they did finally manage to get the heat turned down).

The Rebecca Taylor line was lovely also.  The booth was set up with two sides with two rows of chairs facing the walls on either side.  On one side they showed the Fall I line and the second side they showed the Fall II line.  At one point, I think all of the chairs were taken!  We are given clipboards and linesheets so we can follow along and make notes about anything we might want to order.  The linesheets show the price to us as retailers, the colors available, a drawing of the article of clothing, the sizes available and the suggested retail price.  We get to keep these linesheets following each presentation.

Once I finished up at Rebecca Taylor, I had one more appointment at the Javits Center so I was on the black van again!  My last meeting was with sweater/knit line LiaMolly from New Orleans.  I got to meet with one of the LiaMolly staff members AND snagged a praline cookie for Jim!

My walk back to Penn Station was much more comfortable, temperature and wind wise.  I hopped in the ticket counter line and was able to change my train to the 6:05 pm return (rather than the 7:55 pm).  I grabbed some dinner and then was on the train back home.  I was exhausted but felt like it was a very good day and a very good experience.

Some observations from the New York show:

  1. Everyone was wearing black
  2. I saw a lot of fur (or fake fur)
  3. Everyone is very thin
  4. There were a tremendous number of different accents and a number of foreign buyers (I saw tags that said Dominican Republic, Canada, etc.)
  5. Lots of very high heels - knowing I was going to be walking, I decided not to torture myself.  Not sure how some of these people survived the day!
  6. Large turnout - would be curious to know how busy it was today and tomorrow also
  7. Definitely an amped up energy at this show.  Although I also love the laid back atmosphere of Atlanta.  They both have lots of positives.


  1. I feel like I was right there with you! I love NY! Wonderful observations and a fabulous blog post!

  2. I applaud you for not wearing heels. More power to you! Two questions: 1. What is a bridge line? (Did you discuss this before?) 2. Do you stress about what to wear to these events? I think I'd be super-sensitive about my outfit surrounded by all those fashionistas!

  3. Thanks Cary! I love NY too - my trips there are just too short!

  4. Hi Juice! I have not published my "glossary of fashion terms" yet - that is a good reminder that I need to do so. A bridge line is a less expensive version of a Designer or Couture line. Some bridge line examples are Ellen Tracy and Tahari. The fashion industry (much like the auto industry) tries to get you hooked on a brand at a lower price point (think Vera Wang at Kohls) with the hope that you will develop a loyalty to the brand and aspire to own the designer label.

    I DO stress about what to wear at these events. I was especially thinking about this NY show, knowing that everyone would look very stylish. But I had to factor in the 7+ hours on the train, the walking, the standing, the weather. I wore a comfortable/wide 2 inch heel, dark dressy jeans and a red silky top. I was definitely one of the least fashionable there but I was comfortable enough to make it through a very long day without feeling miserable! I think age is finally triumphing over vanity!