Tamara Leuty will try to build a business around women's preternatural relationship with their cluttered purses.
After working in the fashion industry for more than 20 years, Leuty has concluded that "women will buy a designer handbag before they pay their electric bills." That prompted her to add her own entry to the handbag traffic jam already on store shelves. Hers has a light strip on the inside that is turned on or off by the magnetic clasp on the top.
Leuty started the company, called Glass Handbag LLC, just more than a year ago. She rented a booth at the current MAGIC apparel show, which ends its three-day run today, to try to find retailers who will carry her line. Prices range from $280 to $985.
She was among several locals exhibiting for the first time at the giant show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Mandalay Convention Center, which is expected to draw 75,000 people.
The fashion industry is famous for its brutal competition. But unlike in the recent past, Leuty and other exhibitors see glimmers of an improving retail environment and hope for themselves.
At a quick glance, locally based Dapper Industries looks little different from the other makers of ties and pocket squares in its section of the exhibition floor. But President Derek Smoot, who doubles as chief tailor at the company's Summerlin warehouse, has gone off in distinctive directions.
Besides adopting materials such as seersucker and microsuede, he has tried different geometry for his ties. The scimitar, a crescent that appears at home on Lawrence of Arabia's belt, and the drip, with an elongated tip that looks like the name, are part of the initial line that Smoot and partner Jason Bardenheuer began selling about a year ago.
With retail prices of $75 to $90 for their products, Smoot and Bardenheuer have tried to target the middle of the market.
Tovar Holdings will go after the 25- to 40-year-old young professionals from a much different angle, with outer garments such as button-up wool sweaters and cashmere pea coats. But it, too, will aim for what it considers a moderate price point.
"If someone sees a pea coat they like but don't want to pay $1,000, we want to be that next alternative at $300," brand manager Cody DeBacker said.
Not far from his mother's booth, Artem Khomyakov displayed Beach Bash Beachware, a retro line of swimsuits and resort wear that borrows heavily from the themes of Bettie Page/Tatyana LLC of Henderson.
Business for Bettie Page/Tatyana LLC, owned by Tatyana Khomyakova, has grown steadily by selling dresses designed in the style of those worn by Bettie Page, the 1950s pin-up model.
Some other Las Vegas companies have exhibited before, but see new trends ahead.
Ultimate Fighting Championship Chief Marketing Officer Bryan Johnston said the show promoters made a conscious decision to invite more retailers interested in the "Brooklyn look," characterized by clean lines and logos, and moving away from the skull-and-bones silkscreen motifs popular among huge numbers of Strip visitors.
As the clothing line attached to the mixed martial arts league, UFC gone with a style similar to the unadorned Under Armour athletic wear.
But just a few aisles away, the display racks for Skin Industries still had several items with intricate designs.
"We don't see them fading away," said Holly Borda, who handles numerous management roles for Skin Industries and is married to company owner Al Borda. "We actually brought skulls back because people were asking for them."
MAGIC is closed to the public.
Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.