NEW YORK — Stick with the tried-and-true or experiment with something new.
That was the choice facing buyers at the spring market here as stores continue to struggle with a reluctant shopper and the economic downturn. While August typically is not a busy market, retail turnout was brisk from major stores and specialty boutiques at Madison Avenue showrooms and two trade shows, Lingerie Americas and CurveNY. Vendors generally said reaction was strong to product that was fresh and innovative, as well as new brands such as Jessica Simpson Intimates, Tra La La, Emporio Armani Underwear and the relaunch of Donna Karan Intimates. But with the exception of a smattering of specialty stores that ordered immediate merchandise to bring in newness, orders from major chains are not expected to be completed until mid- to late September.
Despite the highly trafficked venue and the hoopla of cocktail parties and fashion shows staged by the two trade fairs, manufacturers privately complained retailers were extremely cautious and price-conscious due to a tough two month decline in sales in May and June. Several vendors also noted per diems for some out-of-town buyers from major stores had been slashed, and as a result, showrooms were providing a larger menu of meals during and after business hours.
There also was a conflict for both buyers and exhibitors between taking a chance with something new, or sticking with a tried-and-true item. Vendors said merchants were eager to try new ideas but were wary of taking chances with items that had not been tested at retail or with brands that had lackluster performances this year. A number of established brands that traditionally generate rock-solid sales suffered because of the credit crunch and fewer shoppers in stores, said industry executives.
“When times get tough, people go to brands they trust and know,” said Michael Herman, senior vice president of sales and merchandising at Natori Co. “It’s going back to core competency and values, and what you stand for. During times like these, retailers and consumers are looking for the ‘wow’ factor.”
Greg Holland, president of the licensed Donna Karan Intimates and DKNY sleepwear collections at The Komar Co., said “new, exciting product” was key to motivating retailers.
“It starts with product and ends with product,” Holland said. “You’re only as good as the line you hang on the wall. The Donna Karan Intimates collection, Donna Nadeau organic line and Eileen West sleepwear, which got a big boost from the Brangelina photo wearing an Eileen West gown on the cover of People magazine, were all well received. But we won’t know the outcome or have a good understanding of the market until around mid-September.”
Victoria Vandagriff, president of Elle Macpherson Intimates at Bendon USA, said, “Business is definitely tough out there. My finance manager turned in eight [specialty boutique] accounts for collection last month. I think the strong independents will remain because they have a consistent customer, know their business, and buy into what they know will sell, while at the same time being conservative and not overinventoried. We actually had a good market and did more business with independents than we ever have, even business for immediates, because they want newness on the floor.”
Marcia Leeds, chief executive officer of Richard Leeds International, said her company had a good market because the product mix wasn’t the “same old, same old.”
“We focused on nothing generic or basic,” said Leeds. “We made a big push to focus on anything that would bring a smile and emotional attachment with the consumer, items to entice the consumer to reach for the rack on the selling floor. What’s selling at retail right now in licensed characters are characters that people have grown up with. Sassy or negative messages are not working. Mickey’s back big time. He was nowhere for a while.”
Regarding product that was well received, Sue Quinn, senior director of new business development at Jockey International, singled out three daywear groups: a cut-and-sew bamboo and cotton group, a Touch of Toning smooth control group of cotton and spandex and a soft microfiber group in basic and fashion colors.
“There’s also been a demand for full slips and half-slips,” said Quinn, noting a cheetah print and a solid mahogany shade have become replenishable basics.
Suzy Biszantz, ceo of La Perla North America, said, “This market there was a positive reaction to the strengthening of the differentiation between the La Perla brands. In particular, the Black Label line was a favorite of buyers. In past seasons, most specialty stores just bought it for top doors, but based on spring 2009, we have decided to expand brand exposure.”
Biszantz said a top seller from the 48-piece collection was a black-and-mink colored padded demi bra with lace cap sleeves that wholesales for $122.
Meanwhile, attendance figures at the Lingerie Americas and CurveNY trade shows were described as “steady.” Lingerie Americas cited 2,745 visitors, while CurveNY reported 2,929 attendees.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye