By  on September 10, 2008

Buyers are expected to be more selective at the upcoming Fashion Coterie.

When buyers sort through the mix at Fashion Coterie next week, exhibitors will find that retailers might be more selective than ever before.

“I am definitely buying closer to the deliveries, as I am still waiting for the newest, hottest, greatest,” said Suzanne Zarrilli, owner of four Wish List stores throughout Connecticut. “Price is an issue even though I haven’t had price resistance in the stores, but I am being super cautious.”

The show, which will take place Sept. 16 to 18, will be split again  this season between the Show Piers and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Zarrilli will be just one of the many retailers combing both venues to preview spring, but also is hoping to pick up more immediates for her stores.

“We picked up Lauren Conrad last week, and a few key pieces from Alice + Olivia,” she said. “I will also be looking for short skirts, as not many people offered them for fall, but since all the  magazines had them, they will especially be needed for the holidays. The few I found flew right out. I am also waiting for reorders from Ella Moss, who offered a supercute high-waist button-front mini.”

Randi Siegal, owner of three Rapunzel’s Closet stores in Palm Beach, Fla., said she too will be looking for items ready for immediate deliveries.

“We’ve been and will continue to buy closer to our needed delivery dates,” she said. “We’ve decreased our open-to-buy dollars to leave  room for reordering immediates, especially since we have been receiving so many e-mails [from our vendors] lately with recuts or extra stock at discounts.”

At Coterie, Siegal said she is looking to reorder jeans from Current/Elliot, even though she hasn’t received the first order she placed for fall.

“We’ve received a lot of phone calls from customers asking to be put on a waiting list for them,” she said. “White jeans are always a big selling item for us, so almost any brand or style works for us. We sell them year-round.”

Siegal said she also will look to reorder basics in new colors, including scarves at Love Quotes, tanks at Splendid and C&C California, cashmere dusters at Minnie Rose, tracksuits at Juicy Couture and handbags at Rebecca Minkoff.

Exhibitors across the board promise not to disappoint. One vendor, Kate McHale, is bringing her contemporary pants line to Coterie for the first time with the Susie Lehr Showroom.

After working in retail for more than 10 years, McHale decided to switch sides in order to design a line of contemporary pants with a focus on fit.

“When I was a buyer at Wendy Foster, I began to see customers get tired of jeans,” the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based designer said. “They didn’t want to wear slacks all the time, either. So my line is a combination of your favorite pair of jeans and a pair of pants
with a contemporary fit.”

McHale said it took her quite some time to find the perfect cotton-Lycra blend fabric to create her collection, which includes five pants styles: boot cut, wide-waisted flare, trousers, cropped straight leg and Bermuda shorts. For spring, the pants come in bright pink, turquoise and butter yellow, as well as basic white, tan and black. The Kate McHale collection is produced entirely in Los Angeles and wholesales from $89 to $99.

Walter Baker, owner and designer of his Walter contemporary line, said he plans to bring a full collection that women surely will want to buy.

“With this economy, I wanted to make sure I offer the best value I can for the customer,” Baker said. “I do believe that she will still buy, but I also think that she may choose to buy two dresses instead of three. So, each piece has to be really special.”

For spring, the Walter collection will offer printed silk dresses in colors such as bright pink, peach, turquoise and green. Prints include florals and abstracts. There are also leather jackets, shorts, miniskirts, catsuits and silk jersey dresses and tops. The Walter collection, which is based in New York, wholesales between $60 and $250.

For Kiran Rai, owner of Sir Alistair Rai, this will be her third Coterie show, and she said she will bring a larger collection than ever before.

“Our Seventies-inspired vibe is good for this economy since it was such a time of peace and happiness,” she said. “It’s all about feeling good in bad economic times.”

For the show, she will have silk scarves, clutches, T-shirts and sequined and scarf-printed dresses. The color palette ranges from basic black, white and beige to bright green, blue and pink. The Sir Alistair Rai collection wholesales between $80 and $500.

Jeffrey Cayer, owner of the Globe Showroom, is bringing some new lines to Coterie, including jewelry from Citrine by the Stones, Camilla Marc’s swimwear collection, Bella James’ jersey line and a new pants collection called Stelle by Gilber Gilmore.

“We have been really working with our designers to make sure they are layered in price and have a large range of price points,” Cayer said. “That way, if a store really wants to carry a specific brand, but they don’t have the dollars to spend on a big ticket item, there will still be something they can pick up.”

Stacey Perlick, owner of Inhabit, a New York-based knitwear company, said that, although her line is performing well across the board, she has noticed some price resistance from retailers.

“If [stores] carried 50 different lines, they have weeded out a lot of them and it’s those with great quality and good prices who remain on top.”

For Coterie, Perlick said she will have a smaller, but well-edited collection with cotton and viscose-linen blend asymmetrical cardigans and tissue cotton cashmere tops to make for easy layering. The Inhabit line wholesales from $60 to $350.

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