RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bananas and Coconuts organizers hosted their first Hawaii boutique trade show last fall at the W Hotel. From left are Sasha Leidelmeyer, Eric Martin, Sonya Garcia, Jason Bates and Summer Van Foeken.
Boutique trade show's back in town
Life has just gotten easier for boutique owners thanks to L.A.'s Derelicte Showroom, which is essentially taking its showroom and many others on the road via "Coconuts & Bananas," a boutique trade show in Hawaii today and tomorrow in the Royal Hawaiian Monarch Room.
As manufacturers' representative for several clothing lines, Derelicte's president Jason Bates understood the challenges involved in trying to establish a client base in Hawaii, from years of flying in himself and calling on boutique owners, one by one.
Coconuts & Bananas has been his dream "since Derelicte became a multi-line showroom 3 1/2 years ago," he said earlier this week while setting up the event.
CB is making it an aim to showcase new, as well as established designers, in denim, surf and skate apparel, swimwear, resortwear, footwear, eyewear and accessories, in a relaxed environment. Among brands to be featured this time are Live Life & Love Denim, Triple 5 Soul, Howe, Original Penguin, Jungle Girl, Hard 8, Soft 17, Local Celebrity, and many more.
He brought CB to Waikiki for the first time last fall, bringing in about 30 designers and manufacturer's representatives, and drawing 50 retailers to check out their wares. This time, he's nearly doubled the offerings, with 59 designers, and is hoping for a turnout of 100 retailers.
Staging a trade show in Hawaii saves retailers the expense of visiting mainland-based showrooms, and drawing the retailers to a single space also saves time and expense for the designers, who can pool their resources for travel and accommodations.
"It's definitely getting bigger; we've even got buyers coming from New York," said Bates. "Last time it was hard getting word out to retailers and getting people to understand what we're trying to do, but now they do.
"We'd like to get more of the Japanese market and we're going to continue to try to make it more of a global show. Hopefully, it will get really big so we'll be able to come back twice a year."
Coconuts and Bananas is open to licensed retailers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Monarch Room.