Scrap those minis full-bodied peasant skirts are the must-have for the summer and local apparel manufacturers and retailers are rushing to keep up with the trend.
Andrew Strasmore, president of Fire, a division of Los Angeles-based apparel company Topson Downs Inc., has been trying to keep up with orders to Wet Seal Inc., Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. and Nordstrom Inc.
The demand for Fire’s skirts, which run $18 to $60, is three times larger than Strasmore anticipated. So far this summer, retailers are selling 50 percent to 75 percent of their weekly stock, while typically only 10 percent of available merchandise is sold.
“People are surprised in how strong the consumer is reacting,” he said. “There is a whole generation of kids who have never worn a long skirt.”
Peasant fashions helped fuel a 17 percent jump in first-quarter women’s skirt sales compared to the like period a year earlier, according to NPD Group, a marketing consulting firm.
That’s certainly been the case at Intuition, a Los Angeles boutique, where skirts make up 20 percent of all sales. “As a category, skirts are just huge for us right now. We are chasing it a little bit to keep up,” said Jaye Hersh, Intuition’s president.
Intuition sells private-label eyelet prairie skirts that run from $45 to $200.
Bright colors like Kelly green and hot pink, as well as muted coral tones, are popular for the skirts.
Strasmore is betting that full skirts won’t fade in the upcoming seasons. “Our challenge for spring is to continue to make them in a different and new way so they continue to buy them,” he said.
Several stores and eateries have popped up in the historic downtown in anticipation of more residents moving in.
Places with “opening soon” signs include a movie rental shop tentatively called OBDDVD, Asian restaurant Via Caf & #233;, Lost Souls Cafe at 124 W. Fourth St. and an unnamed sushi joint at 415 S. Spring St.
“Every store addresses the needs of our local community,” said downtown developer Tom Gilmore. Landlords also hope that the mom and pop stores will foster a community feel that appeals to those considering a downtown move.
Ann Kim, owner of Bread Affair in Glendale, is convinced that there will be enough customers to sustain two locations downtown. She’s planning one on Main Street and is looking for another site.
“People downtown are a little more sophisticated. It is definitely worth our time and effort,” Kim said.
She is worried that the rising popularity of the area will raise rents, which are $1.60 to $1.90 per square foot. That’s lower than the $2.50 she pays in Glendale.
Rents are increasing as more residents enter the area and retailers compete for space. Still, Brady Westwater, president of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, believes that the area is not quite ready to sustain a mom-and-pop shop by itself. New stores still have to attract customers who don’t live in the area.
He’s looking for bookstores (Book City, now in Hollywood, has expressed interest), antique shops and more art galleries to enliven the mix. “We need to create a real shopping district that is cool and hip,” Westwater said.
Hold the Food
Its official: supper clubs are over.
The Sunset Room, which ushered in the club/restaurant hybrid in 1998, has been converted into two venues that separate the supper from the club.
After a $2.5 million renovation, Sterling, a steakhouse, and the Cabana Club, a nightclub, will open next month.
“I believe the supper club concept is a little pass & #233; now,” said Christopher Breed, who, with partners Alan Hajjar and Eric James Virgets, also owns Hollywood hot spots White Lotus and the Pig’n Whistle. He said that White Lotus, also based on the now outdated supper club concept, should be redone within the year.
The problem with the supper club: no one took the food seriously. That won’t be the case at Sterling, where the executive chef is Andrew Pastore, formerly of White Lotus.
Breed has taken a 10-year lease extension at the North Cahuenga Boulevard location, indicating he has faith in his new restaurant and club.
*Staff reporter Rachel Brown can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 224, or by e-mail at