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September 16, 2018

AT THE INTERSECTION

Catching up with Carl Dias—Traffic LA buyer and industry veteran—about streetwear, showrooms, and how it all comes together

How do you start each seasons buy?
I’m always looking for pieces that are out of the box. For example, we go for the more unusual Off-White pieces—but not too crazy that it becomes costume-y and harder to sell. It’s about fashionable, unexpected discoveries.

What is your typical trip to market like?
It changes. Usually, I’m gone for eight days at a time shopping pre-season collections, then a week or so shopping runway. I go to Paris for the majority of it, but New York is also important. I don’t do tradeshows—too big. I prefer showroom appointments.

Who’s the Traffic LA client you’re shopping for at market?
We have a very knowledgeable, fun customer. They’re into fashion, but don’t take it too seriously. Our customer isn’t buying something because they want people to see the label or because it’s from an “it” brand; they aren’t driven by that. They’re shopping to accentuate who they are and enjoy it as a way to express themselves.

What’s the most challenging part of buying each season?
We’ve always been a little bit fearless when it comes to our buy because we know we have an audience that’s looking for something different. Sometimes buying offices are driven by fear. They don’t want to pick up a brand too early or divert from their normal formula. We don’t really have a formula. The objective is to keep it fresh and not get too stale, cocky, or complacent in the job.

Traffic LA has locations in both Dallas and Los Angeles. How do you shop for each store?
Generally, they’re similar. If a brand is hot, it’s hot. But we’re still building in Dallas. We’ve been in LA for 35 years and have a deep hold on the styling and costume designer business. All the stylists and wardrobe people shop with us. It’s a whole business, beyond clients who walk into the store—our bonus business, we call it. In Dallas, we’re growing with locals, traveling clients, stylists who shop internationally…

Biggest misconception about being a buyer?
It’s a lot of research and it’s very collaborative. Most people think that buying is like being some sort of oracle, but it’s nothing like that. I have a team of people at the stores that works closely with me and shares input from our clients: their sizing, what they’re missing, what they’re loving… Ultimately I make the final decision but it’s process and a partnership. That’s what makes us successful.

The Details: Traffic LA, 1608 Main Street.