THE WARMING TREND AT IMPERIAL SABLE

Byline: CAROLINE RITTENBERRY

The Atlanta Apparel Mart will put a spotlight on furs at its August market, where Evelyn Paswell of Imperial Sable will serve as guest designer.
Paswell worked in the fashion industry for years before deciding to join her husband's fur business 14 years ago.
"He had been selling sable for about 40 years and had established quite a strong reputation. When I joined his company to market and design, I turned it into more of a fashion house. I realized the importance of having a recognizable trademark and made sure that fine-quality sable became our trademark," she said.
Paswell said she often patterns her numbers after European designer looks, modifying them to suit her American audience. "I love the fashion in Italy, but I have to tone the ideas down a bit for the States."
Her bestsellers are usually 40-inch strollers, although she says she does well with short evening pieces because not many designers make them anymore. Most of Paswell's pieces are natural sable, which is dark brown, but she also does a limited number in golden Russian sable, which she describes as exquisite and extremely popular.
The line is shown at the Helen Frustick showroom in Atlanta. Wholesale price points range from $6,500 to $9,500. The line is carried in stores such as Neiman Marcus, Dallas; Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, and I. Magnin, San Francisco.
Paswell noted she is currently feeling good about improved business.
"I noticed the pick-up at the end of last season, and this season looks good so far. I'm still being cautious, so I hate to predict sales," she said.
"We had our problems just like everyone else, but we worked a little harder, did promotionals, had trunk shows--and we survived. Of course, we always had wonderful support from our standard clients, and that helped a great deal, as well."
She says people are enthusiastic about furs again, noting that anti-fur protesters don't seem to have the same hold over the market they did in the past.
"Everyone is excited about the new trends in fur. Couture collections are showing the 38- to 40-inch stroller, and the classic floor-length coats continue to be popular. More women, anticipating another bitter winter like last year, are opting for the longer, 51-to-52-inch coats."
Paswell usually has between 25 and 30 pieces in each collection, and she will be showing 16 at this market. She plans to show a wide variety of lengths and will have pieces in both natural and golden sable.
"This collection features everything from strollers to stoles, all with a fresh, updated look."
She predicted her newest pieces, which she calls raincoats, will be among the season's bestsellers. Made of bright, lightweight waterproof French silk, they are accented and lined with sable. Although she just started working with the silk, Paswell already has it in over 30 colors. "These coats are for the woman who has everything and wants something new and different."
Paswell pointed out that all of her furs are sewn by hand in the U.S. "In fashion, you have to rely on your reputation, and to maintain your reputation you have to depend on high-quality workmanship. In the end, it is quality, not price, that sells a garment."

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