NEAT AND SWEET ARE KEY JUNIOR LOOKS FOR SPRING

Byline: Alice Welsh

NEW YORK--Juniors are getting more junior for spring.
"The most noteworthy overall trend is a shift away from crossover merchandising between junior and misses'," said Mina Charles, junior woven buyer at the Doneger Group here, considered one of the strongest buying offices in juniors.
"The styles are more typically junior, more fun--shortalls and overalls, fitted and cropped shapes."
"Anything that makes you look sweet and demure is in," said Barbara Fields, owner of the buying office of the same name, based in Los Angeles and New York, which deals exclusively with the junior market.
The two offices gave their views on spring, following the Los Angeles junior market held two weeks ago.
"The crossover approach," said Charles, "was a detriment to the junior business at retail. The separation is needed for the junior message.
"The other overall trend is a movement toward a strong feminine look, both in color and silhouette. No more unisex, oversized bodies and slouchy jeans," Charles continued.
Denim is essential for spring. "Denim-friendly is very saleable for juniors and it's a key part of our whole message," said Charles.
IN color, pink is so strong that Barbara Fields makes it a special category on her buyer's "report card."
"Pink is beyond a color," Fields said. "It's a whole trend or attitude. It involves little-girl looks like puff-sleeve shirts, logos with ABC blocks, little babies and phrases like 'baby love."'
The short skirt shows no signs of dying, both offices agreed.
"The short A-line skirt is the hottest item at retail right now in argyle and plaids and it will continue in pastels. There is a void in the market for a short knit A-line skirt. We are buying it as a volume item for spring," said Fields.
Preppie is in for juniors, too.
"We're promoting a country club, tennis theme," said Charles. "Last year it was the Adidas-stripe look. This year it's preppier, like the pleated tennis skirt and polo-collared shirts. But it's more than just basics. These silhouettes have a lot of interest in shape and trim," said Charles.
To merchandise the popular layered look, the baby T-shirt and a looser "little-boy style" were key items for spring, according to both buying offices.
"The number one item on my report card is the baby T with logos. And you have to have the right logos. If you buy the wrong ones, you're in trouble," said Fields.
"The logos have to be distinct--anything celestial, like angels and stars, or love phrases and hearts," said Fields "Embroideries and appliqués are important statements; flowers, hearts, and stars. It all relates back to layering," said Charles.
In pants, ease is the star. "The key pant is the pajama or easy fluid shape with a tie front in a linen blend. It's not a palazzo pant--the leg opening is narrow. It's worn with cropped looks and Ts," said Charles.
In dresses, said Roseanne Cumella, merchandise manager for dresses at Doneger, "the key looks that sold last year are going forward for spring.
"The newness is more in detail as opposed to shape. Drawstrings, lace-up details, polo collars, pocket treatments, suspenders and heart motifs are very forceful in juniors. "The overriding fabric in daytime dresses is denim, denim, denim and denim combined with knits and challis," Cumella added.
There was disagreement over the slipdress. Fields said, "The slipdress has definitely peaked." Cumella said she believed it was continuing, but with adjustable lingerie straps.
In addition to denim, popular dress fabrics are seersucker, terry cloth and both cotton and rayon in checks and plaids.
Both offices warned against some trends that have not been successful at retail.
"Sheers are not selling at all in the junior stores on a national basis unless they are double-lined in front or shipped in a heavier fabrication than the single mesh," said Fields.
"Shine hasn't translated well in juniors," said Charles. "It has been disappointing for a lot of our clients. Hints of shine in items did okay, but overall shine was a problem. "The junior customer doesn't understand what to do with it; they think it's for dressing up," she said.
"Also what's going to look old is very structured, career-type dressing for juniors," Charles concluded. "The key is item separates, mixing knit tops with soft woven bottoms."

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