By  on February 2, 2009

When San Francisco-based Blue Canoe launched its line some 14 years ago, few knew what organic cotton was, president Laurie Dunlap said.


“Now, it’s completely changed,” she said. “Now we hear, ‘My customers have been asking about this’ or ‘I’ve been looking for this,’” she said.

In turn the company, which is having its best year yet in terms of growth (increasing sales by some 30 percent last year) is looking forward to participating in WWDMAGIC and its growing Ecollection segment, which Dunlap believes elevates all the eco-friendly brands.

And Blue Canoe represents only one of the many women’s resources showing at Ecollection, a grouping launched in August designed to consolidate the increasing number of eco-minded companies.

In the past, Dunlap said the company felt lost at WWDMAGIC amid brands with their block-long booths. “This gave us a way to be a big player in a smaller setup,” she said.

At the show, Blue Canoe plans to show its spring 2009 line and preview fall. In turn, buyers will encounter its organic cotton lingerie and its Energy Flow yoga-inspired collection with looser fit pants, long bell-sleeve tunics with slits and sleeveless double-V-neck tops. The line also will present its new Energy Active collection of more athletic or gym-appropriate organic cotton and Lycra attire. That collection will join its Studio group of skirts, wrap dresses, wrap tops with ruched sides and cropped palazzo pants. Wholesale prices run from $9 to $60.

And Dunlap believes the green movement is only gaining momentum. “I’m sort of optimistic,” said Dunlap, who admits her sales may not grow as much in 2009. “There’s more and more support and more awareness. There’s an interest in anything green and sustainable.”

Sandy Skinner, owner and designer of Los Angeles-based EcoSkin, agrees. “I think we’re just tapping the green market. It’s just in its infancy,” she said.

Skinner believes the Ecollection segment will provide a strong platform to generate business. “I think it’s genius,” she said. “There are more and more green stores and it’s easier for them to come shop in this section. For me, this is a very important show.”

At WWDMAGIC, EcoSkin plans to show fun, flirty spring, summer and fall dresses made of either bamboo, Tencel and spandex, or 100 percent bamboo. Styles include a strapless pleated dress with bamboo fabric flowers attached, color-blocked dresses, casual rompers and jumpers for fall. Pieces wholesale from $70 for a basic off-the-shoulder tank dress to $120 for a printed maxidress. Drape-driven fall jumpers in shades of wine, plum, burgundy and brown wholesale from $72 to $98.

Becky Prater, co-owner of Beckons, also hopes that Ecollection’s more prominent placement will elicit more business. Before, the segment was nestled behind men’s wear, Prater said, whereas this year it will be situated more in the front of the show.

“Our last show was more inspirational than financially beneficial,” she said, noting that she met with several interested buyers who were hesitant to try a new line in this economy.

At this edition of WWDMAGIC, the Boulder, Colo.-based Beckons will show colorful bamboo velourlike jackets along with organic cotton and Lycra roll-down, wide-leg pants and an A-line skirt with gathering in the back and a band of bamboo at the hem. Items wholesale from $20 to $50.

Customers, she believes, will respond to attractive, functional pieces. “In this kind of economy, people need things that are applicable to a variety of purposes,” she said, “Nothing trendy or too flashy.”

Clothing of the American Mind, meanwhile, looks forward to participating in the Ecollection segment of MAGIC to forward its social agenda through fashion.

“Part of our mission is to raise awareness,” said Carly Miller, general manager of the Los Angeles-based business.

In turn, the company that produces organic T-shirts bearing slogans such as “Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink,” and “Stop Wars” in the form of the “Star Wars” logo, donates about 50 percent of its net proceeds to nonprofit causes. T-shirts wholesale for $12 to $20.

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