For designers based outside of the U.S., getting into Fashion Coterie could mean big business.
Three years ago, ENK International started bringing in new design talent from regions never before represented at the show, beginning with a select group of Brazilian designers. The organization now sets up sections of the show especially for designers from Italy, Japan, Israel, France, Canada and England.
"In order to take part in the show, these designers must do what anyone else must do," said Elyse Kroll, president of ENK. "They have to show us appropriate product for our buyers. Unfortunately, many designers are rejected each season."
And some just don't last. About a year ago, ENK had to let go of the area dedicated to designers from Turkey. Kroll said that the majority of the Turkish designers showing at Coterie were overdesigning for the women's market.
"I'm interested in bringing in lines that will be of service to our buyers," Kroll explained. "Sometimes these lines are very artistic and beautiful to look at, but they just don't serve the buyers for the American market. I think this was the case with our Turkish designers. They were very good in men's wear, but overdesigned for women."
In order to bring international designers to Coterie, ENK works closely with the governments of their countries. After a select number of designers are chosen, their governments pay for their trip to the show. Coleman McCartan works as a talent scout in search of lines appropriate for Coterie.
"The Brazilians have done very well with accessories and swimwear since Day One," McCartan said. "But I've had to work with a lot of these companies to make sure their sizing was right for the American market, and so that they know they cannot be all things to all people here."
McCartan said that many brands make a variety of products for their home country, but in the U.S., that doesn't always fly.
"When a buyer walks into their booth, they don't want to see jeans, coats, swimwear and eveningwear," he said. "I always tell them they have to be focused and they should pick one thing."
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