CALA San Francisco show floor | Photo courtesy of CALA

On the heels of its inaugural Las Vegas show, the CALA contemporary-apparel trade show hosted its San Francisco edition. Opening the day after the Labor Day holiday at Fort Mason , CALA’s Sept. 3–4 installment saw buyers mainly from Northern California, Washington state and Oregon, according to show organizer Robert Murtagh.

While he mentioned there were concerns regarding producing the show immediately after the holiday, the convenience of seeing beloved brands was too great an opportunity for buyers from the region to miss.

“San Francisco is an established show that has been around for 13 years, and the buyers are familiar with the show and they know the brands,” he said. “It’s an alternative to Las Vegas. They can do some shopping in their own backyard. Instead of leaving the store for a few days, they can leave for seven or eight hours on one day.”

While buyers were seeking an inviting shopping atmosphere with which they are familiar, Murtagh noted that there was a change in this edition of the event. Citing the holiday and heavy San Francisco traffic, show organizers decided to push back show hours on the event’s first day, changing from the 9 a.m.–6 p.m. schedule to 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

“Because of Labor Day on Monday, the reps could set up on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Also, being open until 7 p.m. gives buyers more opportunity to buy,” Murtagh explained. “The buyers and reps seemed to appreciate it.”

Z Supply booth | Photo by Kenny Gandolfo

At the booth representing Irvine, Calif., brand Z Supply , Kenny Gandolfo reported an excellent turnout for the show, with buyers seeking fill-ins and goods to prepare for Spring 2020. While he had buyers interested in loungewear, sloungewear and Spring sweaters, he organized deliveries to bring a fresh approach for customers.

“For part of our Spring collection, we front-loaded everything. Instead of bringing it in 1/15, we are bringing it in for 11/15 for newness on the shelf,” he said. “Z supply is definitely a replenishment business for us. Our basics that we carry in stock, people were filling in. It was a very good Labor Day, and the last couple of weeks of summer were great.”

With wholesale price points of $12.50 for basic tops, $18 for bottoms and $34 for sweaters, Gandolfo, who represents the Northern California, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions, was riding on the loungewear momentum that he experienced in Las Vegas. He mentioned that buyers were interested in trends in neon, lime, pink, mauve, rose and paprika in addition to spin-dyes and soft tie-dyes.

While he has faith in the quality of his goods and the buyer following they generate, Gandolfo noted that there is a unique benefit to working with CALA San Francisco.

“Everybody that is in the women’s contemporary market, 80 percent of them are here—jewelry, clothing and accessories,” he said. “Look out the window to the left and you see the Golden Gate Bridge. Look out from the center window, you’ll see Alcatraz, and, if you look out to the right, there is Fisherman’s Wharf . I don’t know if there is another show that gives you this ambiance.”

Echoing this sentiment was Ross Martin, vice president of sales for E Victor Gabriel Inc. , who felt the show provided a boutique atmosphere.

“There is going to be something for everyone at CALA. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s fast and easy,” he said.

Representing European lines such as NÖR Denmark and MC Planet by Innate , Martin was focused on Spring 2020 trends, with wholesale price points starting at $79 and moving up to $300 for outerwear.

“I think linens are going to come back strong for Spring,” he said. “A lot of my buyers are loving prints with the black-and-white scheme. Chartreuse green is making a big comeback, also the Hermès orange and canary yellow.”

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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