A little off the beaten path, in a business park on Sunset Avenue in West Ocean City sits a hub of fashion. Inside the office on hanging racks, rolling racks, and deep boxes are the fashion forward pieces that make up the Billabong and Element Fall and Holiday 2012 collections. Sales representative Nicole Thrift has just returned from a trip to Pittsburgh. Thrift spends much of her time in the summer on the road, representing the iconic brands in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, showing the latest collections to her buyers from numerous surf shops and major retailers alike. Thrift is currently showing the Spring 2013 Collection.
“We are seeing the return of the longer skirt trend for Spring 2013. Billabong has a bohemian vibe—what people would wear to Coachella or any festival, it’s very free-spirited,” described Thrift.
Even though the brand is known for its bohemian side, Billabong has launched a new collection that Thrift said has been a big hit with her buyers for the past four years. The concept behind this special collection is for the designers to create pieces they would want in their own wardrobes.
As Thrift further elaborated, “this collection incorporates dressier fabrications—silks, sequins and beading. It has allowed us to branch out to the boutique market.”
Billabong has four seasons in all: Spring, Summer, Fall and Holiday. Fall is currently in retail stores. Spring is the major launch season in the industry. The biggest buys come in spring and fall, and as Thrift explained, are the collections most likely to be seen in major magazines.
“A lot of those pieces you’ll see in magazines like Nylon.”
In addition to Billabong and Element, Thrift’s office is now representing Tom’s Shoes, showing the brand to prospective buyers in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. This latest acquisition is a major accomplishment, especially considering Tom’s newest line: sunglasses.
Just like with their philanthropic shoe campaign, Tom’s is taking the same approach with their sunglasses.
“If you buy a pair of shades, Tom’s will provide prescription glasses or sight-saving surgery to someone in need, for every pair. It’s pretty amazing,” said Thrift.
As Thrift was explaining the business side of fashion, she was busy getting ready for an event that all the locals wait in anticipation for: the Billabong and Element Sample Sale. But what most people don’t know is why this sale happens. The samples at the sale aren’t given freely by Billabong or Element to their reps; the reps (or rep groups) must purchase the samples in order to show them to prospective buyers. The sample sales then, are simply to recoup expenses.
At the current sale, Fall 2012 and Holiday 2012 fashions are up for grabs, all at a fraction of retail prices. Board shorts are $20, sweaters are $20, —there’s even a $5 rack for bargain hunters. Want to know what you should purchase to be on trend this fall?
Thrift explains: “Ponchos are still really big, as is anything with fringe or prints. There is a switch from Southwestern to Tribal; it’s more of a worldly vibe. Denim continues to be big, especially colored denim.”
You can find all of the these pieces, some of the Designer’s Closet Collection, as well as accessories, handbags, backpacks, hats and anything else you may desire at the sample sale—which incidentally, is happening right now.
If You Go:
Billabong Fall and Holiday 2012 Sample Sale
- Thursday August 9th 10 – 6 pm
- Friday August 10th 10 am – 2 pm
- Billabong Men’s and Juniors Surf Clothing; Accessories and Swimsuits; Billie Girls; Billabong Wetsuits; Obey Streetwear; Element and Eden clothing; Element Skate and Lifestyle Shoes and much more
- 12636 Sunset Ave H-3 in the West OC Business Park