NYC IS BACK! TRUTH OR WISHFUL THINKING?

by Karen Alberg Grossman
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Although there’s no official NYC market week this summer, it looks like buyers have not given up on New York City and many are coming to town from July 19th through the end of the month. Says Fred Derring from DLS buying office, “We’ve been shopping the market and every vendor we’ve seen says they’re busy from the 19th on. I’m sure Dallas and Chicago will be equally successful.”

In addition to the Park Lane show from July 23-25, (now at the Park Central Hotel, 870 7th Avenue), there’s also a group of 10 independent NYC showrooms (309 Works, 4M Archetype, A Constant Wave, Black Dog Showroom, Bloodworth & Co., J Squared, PBLC Trade Showroom, Peregrine Showroom, Plus Plus, and Westerlind) opening their doors the week of July 19th, vaccinated and ready to show spring ‘22 fashion!

Craig DeLongy from John Craig stores in Florida says he’s never been so excited to attend spring markets. “Business has been unbelievable: as incredible as was January through April, May and June were even better and July follows suit. I’m talking triple-digit increases! I was just in NYC for pre-spring 2022 and I’m going to Dallas and Chicago. In Naples, we added Kiton and Isaia, incredible additions at a new pricepoint for us. Classifications such as shorts and knits have led the parade. Sportcoats have been good and we’ve been chasing goods since many shipments were delayed due to issues outside of the vendors’ control. In normal times, we might be canceling orders or asking for discounts, but not this season: we need the goods. For the first time in the history of John Craig (25 years), I am under-inventoried… and it feels awesome! (Steve Pruitt and Blacks Retail have given me good guidance.)”

On the vendor side, Nelson Suriel from Jack Victor, whose beautiful showroom overlooks Bryant Park, says he has around 30 appointments in the next week. “But keep in mind that we’ve probably already worked around 15 accounts that came in early June to work with the Italian vendors. I think part of the problem is that retailers started making their plans to attend Dallas and Chicago in anticipation of NY still being in bad shape, which it’s not anymore. So, while it’s not totally back yet, we’re certainly taking strides forward and there’s no question it will be back and better than ever!”

Rian Gardiner from Triluxe, agrees. “New York is close to being back: we’re already in the midst of market appointments in our New York showroom.  We have a full schedule of clients coming in over the next two weeks leading up to the Dallas Show. I would say we’re seeing 65 to 70 percent of the clients that were coming to New York pre-Pandemic. That said, between New York, Chicago, and Dallas, we’ll see virtually all of our customers in person!”

Unfortunately, many retailers who are coming to town are here for just a day or two. With major brands take several hours to shop, and many merchants still short-staffed, they don’t want to be away from their stores for any length of time.

Of course, NYC is not yet back when it comes to retailing. As Jack Makoujy from Schuyler 4 reminds us, “Menswear retailing in NYC was deteriorating long before the virus and the lockdowns. Madison Avenue was 30 percent vacant in 2019, the year of the best economy in my lifetime. Now it’s more than 50 percent vacant. NYC has become a very unfriendly place for small business, as have most major U.S. cities. Our business is strong in resort areas, smaller well-run cities, and in all of Florida. So, we’re expanding where people live, not where they work or used to work.”

Eliot Rabin from Peter Elliot, a Madison Avenue retail survivor, says sales have been up 50 percent this past month but that shopping patterns have changed. “Men are tired of wearing pull-on pants and want to dress up again,” he insists. “But Thursday is the new Saturday: nobody’s in town to shop on weekends…”

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