OUTERWEAR: THE CALL TO CASUAL

Byline: Arthur Friedman

NEW YORK--Outerwear makers are counting on the move toward more casual, rugged looks to add muscle to an otherwise weak market.
Active looks were the lone bright spot in last year's bleak coat season, so many firms have designed their lines around casual, versatile styles inspired by such activities as skiing, mountain climbing, hunting and fishing.
Fabrics with texture are important, as are durable styles that combine performance with lifestyle dressing, which vendors feel are good for the weekend and the growing market for corporate casual apparel.
Monterey Fashions, a vertical fake-fur manufacturer, is branching out with a new line of active outerwear called Denali Sport.
Donald Eatz, president of Monterey, said the line will make its debut at WWD/Magic. It features a fabric called Microplush, a fine-denier acrylic woven pile that is being produced at Monterey's plant in Janesville, Wis. The company, based here, has applied for a copyright on the fabric.
Eatz, who projects first-year sales of $1.5 million, said Denali is the Native American name for Mt. McKinley, the Alaskan mountain with the highest elevation in North America.
Wholesaling for $40 to $70, Eatz said Denali Sport features two groups: An active outerwear selection of "ski slopes-to-street" anoraks, blousons, pullovers and vests, and a collection of "casual but elegant" weekend wear, like a reversible pantcoat. Both groups are done in patterns and solids.
"The whole world is getting more casual, and there's a natural crossover to sporting goods in mainstream apparel," Eatz said. In the Monterey fake-fur line, key looks include swings, anoraks and short jackets using fake beaver, animal prints and Mongolian lamb.
Woolrich, based in the Pennsylvania town named for it, is sticking to its signature rugged outdoor looks for fall and is getting good reaction, said Al Zindel, vice president of sales. Among the key selections are a group of antique plaid jackets and vests chosen from Woolrich's pattern archives, including a signature red and black checkerboard. There are also rustic tweeds and earth-tone solids in short and three-quarter-length silhouettes. Rounding out the wool offerings are Navajo patterns, florals and blanket stripes done in casual hunter's jackets, vests and parkas.
Keeping to the rugged theme are groups of stonewashed canvas and stonewashed denim in such styles as ranch jackets, corvair coats and hiking vests, often teamed with button-out wool or sherpa liners.
Jeanette Nostra, executive vice president of G-III Apparel Group here, said rugged looks are booking well in leather and shearlings.
Brown is more important this year because of casual bodies, as are textured and pebble-grain finish leathers and faux shearling suedes.
"Anything with waist interest is important," Nostra said. "We're also getting good early indications that quilted microfibers are going to be strong."
Sanyo Carol Cohen, which did well last year giving its rainwear an active twist, will continue this season with such looks as a goose down-filled acetate and cotton velvet stadium coat and a cotton velvet balmacaan with faux Persian lamb trim.
The company has also added a holiday line this year, hoping to give stores some fresh fourth-quarter looks, while expanding its packable raincoat program, said Nina Churchill, national sales manager.
Launched last year as a single style, this year's packable raincoat line features three-quarter-length jackets, trenches and balmacaans in scarlet, pearl blue and maize, as well as a tan animal print.
Linda Richards has abandoned the moderate market this year and has moved up to better and bridge departments. Linda Bretti, the designer and a principal in the New York firm, said "moderate was hurting" because the market was overly promotional and full of poor quality merchandise.
Bretti has recast her collection from predominantly wool gabardine coats to combinations of cashmere, angora, wool and mohair. There are also better quality wool gabardines, she said. Many styles feature real fur trim. The line now wholesales for $189 to $525, compared to $99 to $175 previously.
Bretti has also gone away from last year's swing and princess coats into a collection of more casual three-quarter-length pantcoats and peacoats.THE EXHIBITORS
A + Unlimited by Megan
A-1 Fashions Inc.
Adler Leather
Alberto Tesatti Leather
Amerella Angelheart Designs Inc.
Antique Boutique
Batya Manufacturers
Ben & Elle
Blue Plate
Bowdon
Broadway Vintage Collection Inc.
Brooklyn Leather Apparel
Calamity Jeans
Carole Little
Casa Maglia
Castle ApparelGroup Inc.
Cattle Kate
Certified Fashion
Guild Inc.
Chaarm Gallery Charta/Dena
China ConnectionInc.
Chosen Furs Inc.
Cornell Trading
Cube
Darla Debonne
Debra Lee Studio
Denali Sport
Diamond Leather
Direct Action/SsangYoung
En've Wear
Flashback & FreedomInc.
Forever Industry Inc.
Fuse
GIII Apparel Group
Generra Women's
Gonda L.A./FaithCouture
Hot Spices/ChiliPepper
Imperial Inter-
national Canada
InternationalTrends Inc.
Kembali
Lamith Designs
Learsi Inc.
Linda Lundstrom Ltd.
Linda Richards
Lou Levy Sons
Louise Paris Ltd. &Highway
Luis Alvear
Lutar International
MPW Trading Corp.
Michael Alexander
Michigan Rag Co.
Objet Du Desir
Painted PonyClothing
Passionne
Quissett Cove
RT3 101 by Gargano
Rainbow WestApparel Inc.
Rampage ClothingCo. Rem Garson
Remy Leather Fash-
ions
Resy Tricot
RidgecrestEnterprises
Ripples Inc.
Sanyo Carol Cohen
Sapman
Sportswear Inc.
Sasson Licensing
Corp.
Silk by JCE
Simply Barbaraof Colorado
Skiva Int.
Splash Apparel Inc.
Straight DownClothing Co.
Swing
The NomadicCollection
Toppolino
TopspeedInternational Ltd.
Tundra Knitwear
Vakko by Katia
Welking Corp.
Wippette
Woolrich Inc.
Zuzka for Fabricology

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