By  on August 17, 2009

Call it the basics antidote.

Junior brands at WWDMAGIC are taking some fashion risks for fall-holiday and spring, unveiling color, shine and heavily distressed fabrics to woo buyers.

Denim is getting torn and shredded, skirts are a-twirl in hot pink and T-shirts shimmer with sequined designs. Taking their cues from the spring ready-to-wear runways, which were rich with Eighties references, designers have found a theme that resonates with the junior girl and is easily incorporated into their creations.

“This is not a basics time,” said Janine Blaine, vice president and general merchandise manager of Directives West.“To get customers to open their wallets, they need something they don’t own. They need emotional buys. Lots of customers don’t own color, and that’s what’s getting them excited.”

Denim firms haven’t abandoned clean, dark skinny jeans that are must-haves to wear with flip-flops, flats or Ugg boots. But, they’re focused on pigment washes, colors and embellishments while still keeping the item value-driven.New York-based Dollhouse is showcasing up to 30 new washes for spring for its skinny and flared denim, according to Albert Shehebar, president. Ripping, pinching and painting are a few of the techniques used to enliven the dungarees along with the placement of rhinestones and new hardware details, such as round and square nailheads down the seams. Wholesale prices range from $16 to $22.

Jou Jou, New York, is practically walking down “Electric Avenue” for holiday with denim, adding rhinestones and embroidery to its back pockets, including metallic belts in green and blue, and rolling out iridescent jeans.

“We just did a reorder of 20,000 jeans in rinsed denim with rhinestones…so whenever we see something that sells, we take it to the next level,” said Robert Acampora, executive vice president of the company.

Denim’s casual counterpart, the T-shirt, is also heaping on the ornamentation to elevate the pedestrian item to fashion status. Characters from Peanuts, Hello Kitty and “Sesame Street” are getting updated with metallics at Mighty Fine, where wholesale prices average $10. Jem Sportswear, maker of the Awake and Couture labels, is embracing Eighties glamour with T-shirts treated with washes, glitter and sequins. The San Fernando, Calif.-based line is creating designs, such as peace signs outlined in sequins, and sewing necklace pieces into shirts. Long T-shirts, raglans, “shark bite” styles and hoodies are among the highlighted silhouettes with wholesale prices ranging from $18 to $48.

“Give her a shirt with value and she’ll buy it,” said Orna Stark, president of Jem. “If it’s special, it will sell out. But, dumb screen prints offer no value.”

Defying the current blue mood, holiday looks get festive with party skirts, party dresses in knit-woven combinations paired with cardigans and leggings dolled up with oversize sweaters. Shades of purple, berry, fuchsia and cobalt blue punch up the clothes even more, said Directives West’s Blaine.

Sweater dresses and sheath shapes are key looks from XOXO, which is embracing shine and new fabric choices for the season, including four-way stretch bottoms. To help give the shopper a reason to celebrate, XOXO has lowered its wholesale prices to $17 to $39.

“We have brought our retail down anywhere from $5 to $10 from a year ago without giving up any of the details or embellishments that have been successful in our product,” said Suzanne Desiderio, president of XOXO Apparel.

On the intimates side, Spreegirl is expanding its eco-friendly offerings by adding more bamboo, modal and silk chiffon in chemises, camisoles, bras, bottoms and a wrap. It’s also planning to unveil styles using soy-based fabrics and coconuts, all with a wholesale range of $4 to $35. The category is opening new doors, literally, for the lingerie-maker.

“Beyond selling to traditional lingerie stores, we’re now adding gift stores and spa stores,” said Vinh Luong, director of sales and marketing for Spreegirl. “The whole vibe of bamboo and serenity works with different types of retailers.”

Preppy skulls, neon, polkadots and golden leopard prints are a few of the designs on the boy shorts, bras and panties at Honeydew Intimates. Jewel tones are the main color focus in purple and navy, and prices range from $5 to $8.

While some larger companies are touting their spring fashions, many are sticking to immediates based on retailers’ skittishness to commit so far ahead.

“Nobody is really booking out,” said Benny Zafrani, creative director at Honeydew. “People want to make cash registers ring today. They don’t care about February. They’re not sure if they’ll be around in February.”

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