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Better and casual lifestyle vendors are foregoing peasant-inspired looks for a cleaner, sportier feel.
This story first appeared in the August 12, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Fueled by strong sales last season, designers in the better sportswear and casual lifestyle markets plan to move forward with ethnic peasant looks for spring 2003. But others are seeking more sophisticated alternatives, such as whites and bright colors in clean shapes, for women who have burned out on the bohemian trend.
Here, a sampling of what sportswear and casual lifestyle companies are offering:
The Dallas-based St. Maarten imports 13 different sportswear lines from France, Spain and Germany and also produces its own handbags. One of St. Maarten’s standouts is Isabel de Pedro/Mr. Cat, a Barcelona-based line whose spring offerings are inspired by the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Spanish architect Gaudì, who designed many of the city’s quirky, mosaic-covered landmarks.
Offerings include a stretch cotton blouse with lace trim wholesaling for $49 and a white cotton stretch dress with dragon designs and sheer cutouts for $160.
Christine Phillipe had been designing better sportswear since 1992 when she closed her retail shops in the Los Angeles suburbs to start the company that bears her name. She offers six groupings of sportswear with coordinating knits, mostly for customers in the 45-to 75-year-old range.
Phillipe will focus on soft dressing for spring. A knit cotton tank top with beading sells for $44 wholesale, and a stretch cotton jacket with a sequined pineapple appliqué sells for $59.
For the past five years, Tasha Polizzi, owner of the eponymous Great Barrington, Mass.–based firm, has catered to upscale clients who need versatile clothes for leisure time. “It’s anything that works on a weekend,” she said. “We do it in a sophisticated way and a playful way.”
For example, Polizzi has a stretch-knit pencil skirt in a playful bandanna print for spring, or a toned-down prairie skirt in deep colors. Looks from Tasha Polizzi include a cotton T-shirt with lace-up neckline and embroidery that wholesales for $40, and a denim peacoat for $85 wholesale.
“Dry Clean Only” is a little-used phrase at Harvé Benard. The New York company, founded in 1967, has made a commitment to offering its customers easy-care fabrics that won’t require expensive dry-cleaning bills. They are busy career women, aged 35 to 55, who have better things to do with their time, said president and design director Bernard Holtzman. He predicted a black stretch microfiber grouping will be a top seller.
A pair of black microfiber trouser pants sells for $27, while a black evening dress sells for $44 wholesale.
Bright, bicolor floral prints dominate Sigrid Olsen’s spring line. “We have a lot of cotton this year, in more simple shapes,” said the Dallas-based designer. “A lot of our groups in the later spring months are based on white on white, white with bright colors and black and white.”
Prices range from a simple cotton T-shirt, wholesaling for $16, to a knee-length linen shirt with an allover embroidery pattern for $124.
Avalon blu, a year-old casual lifestyle company based in Los Angeles, offers knitwear under a label called Red Ginger. Avalon blu also sells swim coverups. For spring, vice president of sales Raoul Gruenberg predicted short dresses will do well, along with capri pants and anything in black, white and red. The company also is emphasizing unusual T-shirt necklines, such as a strong-selling square neck. A Red Ginger cotton tank top sells for $9.50 wholesale and a zip-front canvas artist’s jacket is $40.
Capris continue to be strong sellers at the New York–based Rousso Apparel Group. Rousso Apparel Group has two of its own casual activewear labels, CA Sport and Mureli. CA Sport specializes in comfortable, casual related separates. Two-piece sets, such as a pair of embroidered linen capris and matching jacket, dominate the Mureli line. For spring, Rousso is setting its sights on a hoodie jacket trimmed with lace for $17 wholesale. A CA Sport cotton T-shirt with embroidery wholesales for $19.