By  on July 19, 2007

Denim manufacturers showing at the Bread & Butter trade show here embraced brighter colors, lightweight fabrics and a return to moderate embellishments.

Large crowds buoyed exhibitors' confidence at the three-day fair that ended July 6. Dark indigo and black washes that dominated fall looks veered to lighter shades of gray in denim collections for summer 2008.

Brands such as Pepe Jeans and Seven For All Mankind spiced up clean styles with subtle treatments. Pepe used studs or black vinyl details, and Seven employed silver foil for its back pocket design. Slim fits continued to be strong, but evolved with a slight flare.

Although low rises are still hot, exhibitors such as Replay toyed with different silhouettes, showing high-rise sailor pants with a masculine cut. Color was also back in a big way, in vivid reds, greens and yellows at Wrangler and Mustang. Environmentally friendly and organic collections were on display from Replay and Mustang.

"There is something for everybody and trends are somewhat blurred," said Masahiko Kawai, managing director at Fiorucci, who reported strong traffic at the Fiorucci booth, which drew 1,400 clients on the first day. "Normally, that's the total count over the three days."

A longtime exhibitor at B&B, Kawai said he had seen a change in the way companies choose to display their merchandise; increasingly, they show all branded products.

"That's what we did ever since the first edition because we have a lot of licensed products, but it was very unusual," he said. "Now, many are taking this opportunity to create an atmosphere and display a wider range of goods, which is helping retailers who no longer can survive on clothing alone."

Fiorucci also showed custom jewelry, hats, bags, towels, watches, eyewear, ceramics and shoes.

Heiner Sefranek, chief executive officer at German label Mustang, agreed that trends seemed to span a range of styles. Mustang showed body-shaping, tight fits and low-crotch pants.

"There were more visitors than last year," Sefranek added.

Jim Terwee, export director at G-Star, said the fair allowed the brand to reach new customers and proved to be a valuable platform for meeting potential franchisees."We are receiving a lot of inquiries from people who want to open monobrand stores [under the G-Star banner]," Terwee said.

The Amsterdam company is investing in building a retail network. In addition to its existing 90 stores, G-Star plans to open 134 units by the end of the year. Terwee said the exhibition helped the company open in new markets such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South America.

You Nguyen, senior vice president of product merchandising, design and licensing at Levi Strauss Europe, said the company was accentuating the backside and banking on color, with grays, striped patterns and old-fashioned stonewashing with a 3-D effect.

"The point is how much color you remove with the washes, for an optical movement of high and low hues," Nguyen said.

Another strong trend is customized clothes; tops that can be tied in many ways or drawstrings that can be easily adjusted for individual looks.

"Every kid on the street can be an artist," Nguyen said, pointing to Levi's graffiti sneakers.

Wrangler, which is owned by VF Corp., banked on denim in a wide color palette, from pink and green to yellow and red.

"White is still king for us, especially in the Mediterranean area, also because of the warmer weather," said Jesus Lanchas Sanchez, commercial director of VF Jeanswear Espana.

Sanchez said Wrangler was focused on five-pocket jeans.

"Consumers are coming back to basic styles, to more authentic, less aggressive fabrics with a Sixties and Seventies feel," he said.

Palle Stenberg, co-owner of Swedish label Nudie Jeans, said the brand's denim had a raw, vintage feel, in slight variations on the five-pocket model.

"We still have fits from our first collection," Stenberg said.

Replay, which appointed former We R Replay designer Sergio Arreghini as the brand's new creative director, also showed clean, vintage jeans.

"We are revisiting our roots and recreating our original, historical designs, with a 1970s hippy mood and bleached, almost pastel shades," said Marco Bortoletti, ceo of Replay.

The company is in the final stages of negotiating fragrance, watch and jewelry licenses to complement its existing eyewear and footwear licenses, Bortoletti said.Also in a Sixties and Seventies mood, Seven For All Mankind showed high-waist, boot-cut pants with a silver sequined patch and gold threading. An electric blue foiling added a sparkle effect to the back pocket.

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