By and  on March 4, 2013

LAS VEGAS — Trends inched along rather than bounded forward at the women’s apparel and accessories trade shows here, where buyers and vendors are still playing it safe as the hobbling economy, political intransigence and weather concerns have them sidestepping the riskiest fashions.

Sheer paneling, cutouts, high-low hems in tops and skirts, lace detailing and vibrant colors, including blues and purples, were among the trends paying return visits to WWDMAGIC, ENKVegas, Capsule, Stitch, Pool and other expos here. Some trend advancements were an explosion of black and white, heavier embellishments such as cotton lace, embroidery and crystals, laser-cut leather and pleats.

“We saw a ton of color in fall lines,” said Stephanie Jenkins, cofounder and market director of the upcoming e-commerce and blog site Styledbynoir.com. She added, “Lace seemed to be all over the show this year. From all-over lace pieces to laser-cut leather that looked like lace, it was everywhere.”

The persistence of trends is aided by in-season buying as retailers double down on styles that are working with shoppers rather than moving on. In young contemporary and juniors, immediate purchases often outpaced longer-term ordering. At New York-based brand Young Threads, general manager Rohan Poddar estimated 70 percent of retail buyers were ordering spring items and 30 percent fall. He said oversize tops with lace and fit-and-flare dresses were selling briskly.

In denim, retailers continued to see consumer interest in colored and skinny varieties, although leading coastal boutiques were shifting back to blue in distressed styles. The “destroyed” look came on strong at directional Los Angeles denim brands like Goldsign and Seven For All Mankind, as did gray denim and coated denim in black and muted fall hues like army green, berry and cognac at both AG and Koral.

Tanya Leach, founder of Fischer & Aniston, said the women’s shop in The Woodlands, Tex., is stocked with colored jeans. “My thoughts are the bright colors all the way through the reds, purples and pinks, it is OK to carry through August. I did buy color jeans for fall, but more of the maroons and dark greens. I definitely think it is going to be a trend for the year,” she said.

Kitson owner Fraser Ross thought streetwear brands proved to be the strongest sources of trend creation at the shows. Brian Lichtenberg’s shirts that turn the Hermés logo into Homiés helped catapult the 13-unit Southern California chain to a same-store sales jump in January, and Kitson was on the hunt for more streetwear items to keep the momentum going. “I haven’t seen anything in seven years selling like that,” said Ross of the Homiés items. “The women carrying Céline and Hermés bags are buying it. They are mixing and matching street with designer.”
 
ENK

Mood:
The show’s move from the upscale Wynn to a giant tent outside of Mandalay Bay Convention Center irked some exhibitors and buyers, but ultimately the offerings were still fashion-forward contemporary apparel and accessories with some premium denim. The tents managed a sophisticated vibe with gray carpeting, modern furniture and subdued lighting.

Key Trends: Fur continued to abound in outerwear, from Trina Turk’s curly lamb coats for $595 wholesale to SAM’s coated-cotton three-way parkas lined with rabbit and trimmed with fox and raccoon ($350 to $900 wholesale). Leather, jacquard, and ombré and intarsia knit sweaters looked fresh for fall.

Show Buzz: Traffic was light compared to the megashows, but there were some Project buyers who took advantage of the tent’s proximity to check out some higher-priced women’s offerings. Still, the sweet-spot pricing, from $50 to $250 wholesale, was steep for some. Michael Scott, president of year-old denim brand Driftwood, offered premium denim priced at $35 to $40 wholesale to give retailers 60 percent markups. “The economy is where it is, and everyone wants quality at a price. At $88 or $90 retail these are a no-brainer and increase the number of items per sale that a retailer can make,” he said.

Best in Show: Paul & Joe Sister’s revamped pricing strategy (a 30 to 40 percent reduction that enabled the French brand to sit at the opening price point at U.S. retailers like Shopbop.com seems to be paying off) offered buyers French-made outerwear for under $500 retail.  Its black quilted moto jacket for $225 was some serious bang for the buck.

NEXT: Project >>

PROJECT

Mood:
This year’s transition of all-women’s brands out of Project to the neighboring ENK show made for some confusion among retailers as to where to find certain resources, but several unisex lines, particularly denim companies, continued to show their women’s offerings at Project in the “Blue” section. Other women’s resources at the show included leather bags with classic or heritage styling, from companies such as Matt & Nat and Will Leather Goods.

Key Trends: Project is still the go-to expo for denim, and there were plenty of trends on display in a range of price points, the most forward being subtle flares with a higher rise, the return of moto and cargo details, longer jackets and vests.

Show Buzz: Much like at WWDMAGIC, the show achieved unity within one giant trade show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center but had clearly marked divisions among premium sportswear, denim, footwear, streetwear and accessories to lead buyers to what they were looking for. There were very few megabooths save for brands like Levi’s and Lucky Brand.

Best in Show: Year-old brand Koral, led by David Koral, son of Seven For All Mankind’s Peter Koral, honed the clean aesthetic with details like tonal stitching but kept the looks forward with both innovation in fabric, washes and stretch technology plus style: The “motor oil” splatter across the tops of skinny jeans was both subtle and statement-making, as were the matte crystal-embellished styles, ranging from $80 to $170 wholesale. 

NEXT: Pool >>

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