By Christian Martinez
Monday, October 25, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. PDT
Food trucks have been popping up all over L.A. over the past few years, and now, the fashion industry is starting to take advantage of the concept of mobile business with the fashion trucks.
High-end fashion designer Cynthia Rowley launched a cross-country road trip at the beginning of the year to showcase her fall 2010 line. Her entire collection has made its way to the West Coast all the way from New York.
“She has everything in here,” said L.A. Stylist Karla Cavalli. “She’s got some bathing suits. She even has shoes in here. She’s selling shoes, handbags, sunglasses, and dresses. It’s pretty much like a Cynthia Rowley store, just in this condensed space.”
The truck’s manager, Paige Segal, has been setting up the store at every stop. The truck made its way from New York down to Miami then crossed over to Houston, Texas. It has already gone up to San Francisco and Santa Barbara.
Fashion public relations specialist Diana Bianchini said just having the truck drive around with the big Cynthia Rowley label printed on the side of is a good sales tool.
“You know in this tough economy with everyone going out and doing everything, brand-wise, you have to really go and think outside the box,” Bianchini said. “I think creative strategy and ideas are the ones that survive.”
Bianchini said Rowley was innovative in finding a way to get her clothes physically out to Los Angeles without having to open up a store. According to Bianchini, Rowley is saving a lot of money not having to pay rent or pay to staff a store, and other fashion companies have also been taking advantage of the mobile business.
Sketchers shoes just finished a three-month tour in New York’s Times Square. Fashion designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos spent the month of August touring the country to promote their new fashion label by meeting with customers at Barney’s co-op stores. Women’s fashion label Alice and Olivia also made it’s way across the country over the summer in a streamlined mobile home that served as a pop up shop.
Robert Ruiz, the owner of Southern California boutique Melrose Co., said he thinks that these mobile lines have an unfair advantage in business competition.
“For someone to swoop in and be able to exploit one day—there is no way they would have to assume any of those costs,” Ruiz said, referring to the costs of rent and staffing a store. Even though he said he would not want other businesses having an unfair advantage over his store, Ruiz said he would want to exploit that business opportunity.
“I think everybody would like to take advantage of this opportunity, but to have someone else have the advantage over you is something else,” Ruiz said.
The Cynthia Rowley has been spreading the word of where she will be parked and heading to next through twitter and facebook. Customers who visited the truck said they have been following her online to try to get a chance to shop in the truck.
“Being here and shopping in the truck is a totally different and engaging experience,” said Kristina Soler, a shopper in Los Angeles.
Many customers said they enjoyed shopping in the truck more than shopping online because they were able to feel the clothes and try them on.
“I found it very exciting to be in that little space with everything at your fingertips,” said customer Jacqui Farini.
Bianchini and Segal said they expect that other fashion designers will launch similar mobile innovations as the trend expands.