by Karen Alberg Grossman

Former Nordstrom merchant Jim Iwasaki is putting together a regional apparel show to debut this May. The show targets buyers from men’s and women’s specialty stores, as well as golf, resort, and surf shops. Show dates are May 15-18 at the Embassy Suites in Irvine (1.3 miles from John Wayne airport). The focus will be on at-once summer goods, although fall fashion will also be shown. The goal is a show that’s “safe, fun, and has a great vibe.”

Iwasaki points out that since many independent apparel stores, as well as resort shops, catering to both men and women, he wanted to include women’s fashion at this show. He also notes that his May timing was intentional based on the increased availability of vaccines, the projected pent-up demand for fresh fashion, and retailers’ growing frustration with buying online.

“When I was a buyer years ago at Nordstrom Southcoast Plaza, I learned from Pete Nordstrom to ‘always leave some hay in the barn.’ With today’s erratic shopping patterns, retailers are recognizing the importance of reserving open-to-buy for at-once purchases.”

Jim Iwasaki

In addition to local stores, Iwasaki says he has retailers coming from the wine country, from Scottsdale, Palm Springs, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. “We’ve also aligned with other regional shows (Memphis Prime, Traffic Austin) and we’re all on the same page: if buyers aren’t traveling long distances, we need to bring the shows closer to them. What’s more, smaller shows now feel safer than massive exhibit halls at convention centers.”

Among the 40+ brands so far signed up for the first OC Apparel Show: Jack Victor, Georg Roth, Faherty, Johnnie-O, Bugatchi, Robert Barakett, Remo Tulliani, Torino, Reyn Spooner, Q by Flynt, and many more. Iwasaki notes that he will be producing and distributing daily flyers and videos of hot items from the show.

For more info, contact Jim Iwasaki at 714-403-3773.


  1. Good move for the vendors to save money as well for the buyers staying local.
    The Big Shows need to adjust the price structures for vendors the cost for major trade shows getting out of hand.
    They will see the writing on the wall when they realize that smaller shows are beginning to pop up all around the USA

    1. So true. Bringing great vendors locally will help the retailers and resorts stay close to home. While retailers have adjusted to stay lean in uncertain times, I feel that we all need to make this a no brainer for buyers.

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