By  on October 17, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Concerns about a slowing economy loomed over the Majors Market here last week, as clothing manufacturers unveiled an array of offerings, including contemporary-inspired lines for the junior shopper, higher-priced details such as laser cutting and updated dress silhouettes.

The three-day Majors Market at the California Market Center traditionally caters to major national retailers such as Macy's, Dillard's, Belk, Wet Seal, Goody's, Mervyns, Anchor Blue, Maurice's and Tilly's, and focuses on the junior sector. But some brands in the contemporary and misses' sectors also took advantage of the influx of marquee retailers to show off spring looks.

Robert Maslin, president of Taylor, a better dress label produced by New York's Danny & Nicole, arrived in Los Angeles with Taylor's inaugural collection wholesaling from $69 to $89 to reach out to department stores searching for dress specialists.

No matter what the category, the economy played a role in how buyers ordered. Javier Siordia, a sales representative for a new retro-inspired contemporary label called Whitley, said buyers mainly picked up few key pieces rather than the entire line, which is owned by Los Angeles' Cover Design Inc. "With the economy right now, the first thing they are going to cut back is higher-priced goods," he said, noting that Whitley's wholesale prices run from $65 to $120.

Teri Pierce, who handles sales of Vernon, Calif.-based C.C. Couture, agreed that buying habits have changed compared with the go-go attitude of previous seasons. "On a specialty store level, I think people are being careful about what they are bringing in at what price point," Pierce said, citing C.C. Couture's silk blouses that retail for less than $100.

Richard Clareman, chief executive officer of Self Esteem, fretted that lower-than-expected sales in September deflated an otherwise stellar year for his junior label based in Montebello, Calif. "Retailers react to good selling but there hasn't been much of it," he said. "The problems with the economy are finally trickling down to the consumer."

Vendors tried to stay upbeat by enticing buyers with parties and celebrity endorsements. YMI Jeanswear commandeered Hollywood's Boulevard3 nightclub to present pedal pushers with tapered legs and rhinestone-encrusted back pockets, white miniskirts and raspberry-tinted Bermuda shorts in a fashion show hosted by "Hairspray" star Brittany Snow.

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