By Design: Charlie Brown at Avery Dennison’s marketing and sales showroom in downtown L.A.’s Arts District.

By Design: Charlie Brown at Avery Dennison’s marketing and sales showroom in downtown L.A.’s Arts District. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Hot premium denim and activewear brands emerging in Los Angeles have caught the eye of Avery Dennison Corp. So it moved in next door to them.

The Glendale label maker earlier this year opened a marketing and sales-oriented showroom in downtown L.A.’s Arts District, where Avery hopes to attract clients by showing new, cool labeling technology and offering expensive resources for free.

The center is the brainchild of Shawn Neville, president of Avery’s retail branding and information solutions division, who hopes the center will help the company build up a bigger presence in L.A.’s large apparel industry.

“We had the potential to dramatically improve how we support the market in Los Angeles, which is one of the top five markets in the world,” Neville said, and one that is growing. “It’s to build market share.”

The L.A. facility, opened in September, is Avery’s third, following fairly similar ones in Germany and Ohio. The idea is to grab business early on by offering services that small and emerging brands usually can’t afford but desperately need.

Brands can send their graphic designers to the center to quickly create all the different types of labels they need: ones that carry information about materials and care instructions; simple price tags; and fancier tags that display a brand’s name and logo – think of the labels tacked on the pocket or waistline of a pair of jeans. They can pull from Avery’s on-site materials to mock up hang tags, instantly print samples that might otherwise take weeks to produce and get advice from Avery’s experts on complex labeling rules that vary by state and country.

Those services are more in demand as manufacturers and designers spend more time and money on labeling as a way to stand out from competition and to comply with ever-stricter disclosure requirements, said Gary Garfield, a 20-year veteran in label manufacturing and owner of California Label Products in Los Angeles and Gardena.

“People just want more information on them: Retailers want price, manufacturers want logos, customers want sizes,” Garfield said. “It becomes an all-encompassing item.”

Given that increased attention on labeling, Avery’s strategy makes sense to Kim Zablocky, founder of the Retail Value Chain Federation in South Plainfield, N.J., which helps settle labeling issues between brands and retailers. He called Avery’s centers a simple and innovative marketing tool and said Avery is the only labeling company large enough to attempt this kind of marketing strategy.

“They pick up a prospective client, take them to the center and show them the practical applications,” he said. “When you’re a $4 billion to $5 billion business, you have resources to do that.”

Creative office

With huge windows, high ceilings, exposed piping and hardwood floors – the hallmarks of so-called creative office space – Avery’s 15,000-square-foot center sits on Third Street near Santa Fe Avenue, just a few blocks from such Arts District hot spots as Wurstküche and Pie Hole.

The office and its location aim to give off a creative vibe that Avery hopes will draw in young, creative clients. Charlie Brown, the company’s global head of market development and who runs the center, said he wants potential customers to see Avery as a creative branding partner.

“Avery wants to solidify its brand name as more than just a ticket, tag or label,” he said.

Inside the center, 30 employees offer production and design advice, answer technical questions about labeling materials and help customers navigate complex labeling issues, such as translating them into foreign languages and currencies.

Employees also show examples of Avery’s newest labeling techniques, such as heat transfers, which use heat to infuse graphic images on material to avoid woven or affixed labels, a practice popular with makers of activewear.

The center also features a room filled with a vast collection of Avery labels, tags and paper samples, giving fashion brands and manufacturers an idea of all the company’s labeling options, and special printers that quickly spit out sample labels.

“One of the reasons we’re here is so they can essentially touch and feel and rapidly prototype tickets, tags and labels,” Brown said.

Another room offers shelves full of fashion books, magazines and apparel market research studies, and free access to a fashion trends forecasting service – one that costs Avery between $15,000 and $20,000 annually.

The center also hosts matchmaking events among manufacturers, retailers and brand owners, giving small companies a chance to meet each other without the expense of attending trade shows, Brown said.

The hope is that potential clients will come in for the free resources and stay to buy labels.

Results

So far, the center has worked with 30 customers, Brown said. While most are larger firms, such as South Gate jeans maker AG Adriano Goldschmied Inc., Joe’s Jeans Inc. in Commerce and Guess Inc. in downtown L.A.’s Garment District, there have been a few new, small brands that have stopped by.

One of those is Compassion Brands, a young licensing company in Century City that’s now in talks with Avery, said Brett Stone, Compassion’s director of licensing.

The company, which licenses anti-bullying and otherwise upbeat statements and images – “Smile, Sparkle, Shine” and “Be Nice, Sugar and Spice” among them – to apparel and jewelry makers, hopes to use Avery labels to represent its brand on those items.

Compassion wouldn’t require its licensee manufacturers to use Avery labels, he said, but the company would recommend it as a way to keep Compassion’s branding strategy consistent and clear.

“When you have a diversified licensing concept, branding and branding synergy is very important,” he said.

Another business that’s used the center is Hurley International, a midsize action sports apparel maker in Costa Mesa. Scott Madison, the company’s senior product designer for men’s clothing, visited the center with his designers. Avery employees showed the Hurley team how a heat-transfer label looked with their materials so they could determine if the material works for their concepts, Madison said.

“Before, when you did a heat transfer, you had to send it to a factory and it would take a couple of weeks to get back,” he said. “Now, they can test it right there. It saves us time.”

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