During my trip to Los Angeles in March, I had the opportunity to stop by Caro Marketing‘s new downtown digs while attending their Coachella event- Carochella Zen Den. Caro’s fashion branding extraordinaire- Caroline Rothwell opened this event exclusively for LA’s top bloggers, stylists and editors as part of the pre-festival activities that were taking place throughout the city. The lofty space was transformed into a mini-boutique and zen lounging space for guests to relax and enjoy. The event was also hosted by YMI Jeans and featured brands such as: Coye Nokes (their Inas flat is TO DIE FOR), Hare+Hart (sustainable leather accessories), Carmen Steffens, Lelis Collection (made in the USA and creator of one of the cutest ruffled floral blouses), d.RA Clothing (adorbs floral crop tank tops), Egg by Susan Lazar, LATS, Globio Juices, Kind Bar, Lovemade, Mario Badescu, Raw Elements Sunscreen, Snaptats, and Sthenos. DJ Amy Pham provided beats for the event, while Flashtag offered a photo booth to capture fun moments. The event concluded with sunset meditation by Aliign.
I was so pleased to hear that one of my friends- Amy Kim had recently opened up a showroom in the Cooper Building. I had the pleasure of working with her and Jen O’Brian- the lovely showroom manager during LA Market Week (June 2012). Not only did I learn a different side of the fashion industry, but I also found some amazing brands that they rep: Isabel Lu, Lavuk, Seventh Wonderland, Dra Clothing, Spencer Lacy, The Bikini Thief and Kinship. Here is my little Q&A sesh with Amy…
LAFS: What inspired you to start your own showroom?
AK: I first came into the Fashion industry back in 2006 working as a sales manager for a denim company. And when I paid my first visit to a well-known showroom at the Marts back then, I knew that this was what I would be doing.
LAFS: What brands do you carry and why?
AK: d.RA Clothing. I first met the owner Diana Ra when she was launching d.RA and we connected right away. At the time, she had left the Head Designer position at Patterson J. Kincaid to start her own label – and I fell in love with d.RA instantly. I believed in the brand from the start and hope it achieves the fame it deserves.
LAFS Side Note: d.RA is one of this blogger’s fave brands in the showroom! Love the girly and chic tops, skirts and dresses in fab solids and fun prints! The quality is great and I could definitely see myself having fun mixing prints with this collection!
Isabel Lu. Having come from launching a few Korean-American owned brands prior to opening my Showroom, Isabel Lu was exactly the type of brand I was looking to add to our lineup. The Collection is beautiful, fashion-forward, yet affordably priced for Contemporary. The owner Jane Moon has many years of experience in the industry and is quite savvy in all aspects. A great partnership.
LAFS Side Note: Isabel Lu had some great leopard print separates that I love and some of those maxi dresses would look great in my wardrobe. Everything in the Isabel Lu brand is classy and chic, perfect for the office and dinner after!
LAVUK Los Angeles. I’m a big believer of eco-friendly and earth consciousness. When we first met with Natasha Gindin – the owner of LAVUK for the first time, we knew there was something very special about her and the brand. She brings such unique style and vision to the table which is incomparable other eco-friendly brands out there. Natasha and LAVUK are headed for stardom.
LAFS Side Note: I’ve known the LAVUK brand (and the lovely Natasha) for a few years now. I love the brand… because not only is it eco-friendly as Amy had mentioned, but I love that Natasha takes risks in cut or silhouette…and it looks great!
KINSHIP Made in LA. We’re always to looking for a great new potential brand to launch and cultivate. And what better line to do so with than a trendy, hip, and affordable knit Collection? KINSHIP covers everything from basics, novelty, and graphics – truly something for everyone. Creative Director Alex Vargas and his team bring 10 plus experience in the knits world and have been waiting to launch their own brand for quite some time. We are working towards KINSHIP being the next household name in the knits arena.
LAFS Side Note: KINSHIP is a great brand for your basics. Alex has some unusually fun cuts in the tops and sweaters. I found that the material was nice and comfy!
SpencerLacy. We really wanted to represent some Australian labels – as we know the Aussie brands are very hot in the USA right now. SpencerLacy is a beautiful contemporary collection which all the finer stores always gravitate towards. The Collection brings the cool Aussie vibe and translates them into very wear-able styles for women of all ages.
LAFS Side Note: LOVE SpencerLacy as well! Actually, come to think of it, I’m loving all the Australian brands that have come out so far. The brand offers amazing flowy chiffon dresses in solids and prints. Oh and the knits… I tried on this oversize sweater and wanted to curl up on the couch with a good movie and hot cocoa and just be ‘snug as a bug in a rug’! So yeah, the knits are luscious! Then they also have basics, like tops, leggings, etc.
Swim Division – starting July of this year, we have added a Swim Division to the Showroom. Here are the brands we currently represent: Bikini Thief. This is an adorable Swim Collection which is getting crazy recognition in the USA right now – having been featured in the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issues and also sponsoring top women’s athletes! The owner Whitney Andresen is a sweetheart and it shows in the Collection – which is very sweet, girly, feminine, with the right amount of sexiness. Look for an exciting project coming up soon with a supermodel for next Spring!
LAFS Side Note: I didn’t get the chance to view this line in person, but from the looks of it on the website, the suits look nice! It’s also 100% made in Los Angeles.
Seventh Wonderland. Here is an amazing Australian Swim Collection which we just could not pass up, and which inspired me to add the Swim Division to the showroom. Seventh Wonderland is a fast rising star in the USA Market as well, having being picked up by some prominent retailers this year. Look forward to growing their presence in the upcoming seasons and beyond.
LAFS Side Note: Again, didn’t get the chance to see the line in person, but this line looks pretty rad from what I’ve seen on their website. Gorgeous prints and cuts. They take swimwear a little step further….
LAFS: What makes AK Showroom stand out from other showrooms in your niche?
AK: I myself come from the Corporate Sales Managerial background – in which where I was not only in charge of sales, but learned the ropes from the manufacturer’s end. I firmly believe that this enables me to work with all of my brands more efficiently (having been on the other side) and in better conjunction to cultivate and grow sales. I hired Jen O’Brien as my Showroom Manager because not only does she bring almost 10 years of Showroom Sales experience – but has represented every type of brands out there ranging from high-end to lower-end. She is extremely hard working and truly remarkable. I feel very fortunate to have her heading on my team.
LAFS: What can we expect to see from AK Showroom in the future?
AK: An East Coast Showroom is in the works. We will be joining forces with ELR Media Group NY to combine Sales and PR for the brands we present. Our target launch date for the NY Showroom will be September of 2012!
LAFS: How might we contact you if we want to do pulls, etc?
AK: Phone Number: 213-239-0496 Jen O’Brien: email@example.com Amy Kim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much Amy and Jen! I wish you both huge success in the showroom! So, dear readers, if you happen to attend any of the LA Markets, please pay AK Showroom a visit! AK Showroom is also on Facebook.