The contemporary category has been booming at retail for the last few seasons, so what does that customer want for fall? Well, all the key trends, from novelty jackets and high-waisted jeans to sequin tops and beaded dresses. Key labels include Milly, Vince, Alice + Olivia and Paige. Here, some of the season's best-selling items so far:
HENRI BENDEL Where: New York Fall bestsellers: Belted cheetah car coat by Milly and a sequin racer-back tank by Henri from Henri Bendel. Retail prices: $678 for the coat, $208 for the top. Who's buying: "[Milly's coat is for] the girl looking for something versatile and stylish that goes with everything," said Ann Watson, the store's vice president and fashion director. "[The sequin top is for] a girl who is looking for something special to go out." Why they've done well: "Animal prints are a big trend for us and this coat is very versatile. It looks great over a dress or paired with skinny jeans," Watson said. "[The tank] is the perfect top, with just the right amount of shine, to wear with jeans or trousers for a night out — and a racer-back is incredibly sexy."
BERGDORF GOODMAN Where: New York and bergdorfgoodman.com Fall bestseller: Milly's fake fur cheetah-print jacket. Retail price: $470 Who's buying: "It's the perfect jacket for the uptown girl, at a great price," said Shira Lauter, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for Bergdorf's 5F department. Why it's done well: "It's just so cute," she said.
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Where: 54 stores nationwide and saks.com Fall bestsellers: Alice + Olivia's beaded tunic, Vince's quilted leather jacket and Seven For All Mankind's high-waisted trouser. Retail prices: $484 for the tunic, $595 for the jacket and $209 for the trousers. Who's buying: "The current trend of shine and the wide-leg jean is what the Saks Fifth Avenue contemporary client wants," said Michael Fink, women's fashion director. Why they've done well: "Novelty tops continue to be one of the easiest wardrobe pick-me-ups out there," he said. "These particular styles are selling to both our contemporary and designer clientele. She's buying contemporary to go with her designer bags and shoes."SHOPBOB Where: Madison, Wis., and Shopbop.com Fall bestsellers: Alice + Olivia's dress with roses and Vince's leather funnel jacket. Retail prices: $297 for the dress and $695 for the jacket. Who's buying: The contemporary customer looking for quality, according to Erin Crandall, head buyer. Why they've done well: "The Alice + Olivia dress has been a huge success this season because the color and the roses make it a chic and special dress for any event this fall. It looks designer at a contemporary price point," Crandall said. "The Vince leather jacket has been strong because it's a great classic black leather jacket, which is a staple for the season."
ATRIUM Where: New York, Miami and Livingston, N.J. Fall bestseller: LaRok's parochial-sleeve fitted shirt with men's tie. Retail price: $158 Who's buying: "The fashionista girl who wants to look polished with a bit of edge," said Christine Lee, women's wear head buyer. Why it's done well: "It's a great price point, looks great with all high-waisted styles that we are selling, it can be styled cute and sexy as well as dressier if you remove the tie," she said.
SEARLE Where: New York (eight locations) and searlenyc.com Fall bestsellers: Searle's open-back silk charmeuse dress and Searle's waffle-weave cashmere jacket. Retail prices: $498 for the dress, $498 for the jacket. Who's buying: "The dress is worn by women of all ages in good physical shape," said Rick Weinstein, director of sales and marketing. "[The jacket is for] women of all ages." Why they've done well: "[The dress has a] sexy open back, but demure round neck front," he said. "The jacket is a great chunky knit jacket. Pleating and seaming detail make for a very novel style."
OLIVE & BETTE'S Where: New York (four locations) and oliveandbettes.com Fall bestsellers: Paige Premium Denim's Fairfax Petite jeans and Autumn Cashmere's double-breasted sweater with leather buttons. Retail prices: $230 for the jeans, $315 for the sweater. Who's buying: "Small women who want a jean that's specifically made for their body types," said owner Stacey Pecor. "And everyone loves this sweater." Why they've done well: "In denim, Paige's Fairfax Petite jeans have been amazing. It's not just a smaller jean — it's a petite one. For a woman accustomed to tailoring everything, she's pleased to be able to have a jean that fits as is," Pecor said. "Knits as a category have been amazing. We've been selling a variety of styles in a variety of weights, and they've all done really well. Autumn Cashmere has been fantastic across the board."RAPUNZEL'S CLOSET Where: Palm Beach, Fla. (two locations), and shoprapunzels.com Fall bestsellers: Frye's shortie cuff boots, Anlo's trouser jeans and Minnie Rose's cashmere dress. Retail prices: $258 for the boots, $198 for the jeans and $286 for the dress. Who's buying: "Women in their late 20s and 30s, not college students," said Randi Evans, owner. Why they've done well: "They are great fashion styles to mix into your wardrobe and make other items look fresh," she said.
SEATON Where: Los Angeles Fall bestsellers: Seaton's cashmere wrap and cashmere sea-horse boyfriend cardigan. Retail prices: $354 for the wrap, $386 for the cardigan. Who's buying: "Celebrities include Christina Aguilera, Rose McGowan, Denise Richards," said co-owner Jill Roberts. "Everyone from teenage girls and twentysomethings to fashionable moms and older. The line crosses generations." Why they've done well: "These are classic, timeless, amazing quality pieces that can be worn from season to season," she said.