By  on July 7, 2005

NEW YORK — Retailers spend hours scouring trade shows and showrooms in pursuit of what they hope will be the hottest and most-coveted items of the season. While they're always on the prowl for the next big thing, they also keep a keen eye out for innovative designers. Here, some of the city's key specialty stores detail what rising designers they'll carry for fall.

Olive and Bette's
Consumers browsing Olive and Bette's four boutiques this fall can expect to see vibrant, rich colors with a twist of ethnic influences, but tweeds and velvets also will be added to the mix. "Our consumer is looking for newness and freshness," said owner Stacey Pecor. "She's always looking for new designers." The boutiques carry roughly 30 brands consistently throughout the season.

Pecor said she'll be carrying designer Cynthia Steffe for the first time this fall because Steffe's "Russian Folklore"-themed collection complements lines in stock such as Trina Turk and Nanette Lapore.

"It looks expensive," Pecor said of Steffe's fall collection, of which Olive and Bette's will carry five pieces.

Pecor also revived a brand she hasn't carried in recent seasons, Lu Lu Lame, thanks to its beaded cardigans adorned with bows. The shirt collection Italy will arrive in September for the first time. "It's a collection of western shirts in plaids and florals. Our blouse business is very strong," said Pecor, adding she's also sticking with another shirt line, Fourtys, she picked up in the spring.

Twinkle, a collection best known for knits, also will make its debut at Olive and Bette's for fall. "We're bringing in tiered tunics and argyle sweaters from Twinkle," Pecor said. In October, a line called Wendy Hill will arrive. Pecor especially loved the brand's chiffon halter tops and its velvet, three-quarter-sleeved blazers.

As far as bottoms go, Pecor is excited about the new pants line Jack, which she'll carry for the first time in the fall. "It's hard to find a really great new bottom resource," she said, citing the hysteria that surrounds denim companies these days. "Jack is a replacement for denim. You can go out in it or wear it to work. The fabrics are high quality." Jack will hit shelves in August.For denim devotees, Pecor picked up a denim line for fall called Meli-Melo, particularly for its trouser jean. "I think it's a little more dressed up, but for fall, our customer demands a bit more of a dressed-up look," Pecor said.

This summer, Intermix opened a Southampton boutique, and in mid-August, a 4,000-square-foot flagship will open at 98 Prince Street in SoHo, bringing the total number of Intermix stores to 10. The retailer, best known for outfitting women head to toe, carries about 200 brands at one time. "We cater to three lifestyles: day, night and weekend," said Khajak Keledjian, chief executive officer of Intermix.

This fall, Keledjian is anticipating the arrival of designer Mark Eisen's new collection, Karoo, named for a region in central South Africa, where Eisen spent his youth. "It's a great knitwear collection," said Keledjian. "It's fashion-forward, but wearable. It's not your basic cardigan. We're looking at drapier tops you can wear with skinny jeans." Karoo's fall designs feature elongated cashmere sweaters in black, navy, oatmeal and eggplant hues. Karoo will arrive at Intermix boutiques by the end of this month.

Keledjian also will carry LaRok this fall, which he calls "sexy and urban." A capsule collection was brought into the store in the middle of the summer, but, going forward, Intermix will carry a broader assortment. "We really like their product," he said, and added, "But they don't have a long shelf life. We're selling out." For fall, he expects LaRok's mirror-cardigan, adorned with quarter-inch reflective pieces, and a shrunken, embroidered vest to be bestsellers. "LaRok is the gap between urban glamour and country chic," he said.

New York-based Iisli is also on Keledjian's list of hot new brands. Keledjian loves the two-year-old knitwear company's jackets, which he describes as "a major trend." Intermix will carry a bedazzled shrunken blazer with three-quarter-length sleeves. "You can wear that jacket from day to night," he said.

Metallics and velvets will rule the racks at Scoop, the 11-unit retailer, this fall. The store is issuing a handful of exclusives this fall such as a private label ballet slipper in velvet and metallic leather and rhinestone headbands in black velvet. In keeping with the Audrey Hepburn-ish, ladylike-chic theme, Seven For All Mankind and Scoop have developed the Audrey, a midcalf, sexy, fitted slim jean, for $145."This fall, we're looking at very tailored, simple, beautiful things," said Danielle de Marne, the retailer's director of special projects.

Scoop will pick up the Brazilian collection Daslu for fall. "It's been doing amazing down there," de Marne said, adding that the collection consists of ready-to-wear, accessories and shoes.

Milla, a London-based contemporary line, also will launch at Scoop this fall. "This is their first collection and when we saw them, we loved them," de Marne said. The drapy tops are a great complement to denim.

Susan Denner's collection of hand-knit cardigans called Sunner will make its debut at the store come fall. Key pieces include hand-knit cardigans, retailing between $315 and $385, and belted turtleneck dresses, retailing for $235. De Marne is excited for another sweater collection, Candela, to hit shelves. The collection consists of bohemian sweaters such as traditional cardigans with flashes of metallic sewn in and belled and tiered corduroy skirts.

Scoop also will pick up select pieces from The Denim Doctor, based in Los Angeles. The Denim Doctor refurbishes old pairs of Levi's, in both denim and corduroy.

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