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It’s time for another Fashion Coterie and vendors are ready to supply stores with the newest looks from updated novelty denim styles to embroidered tunics.
This story first appeared in the September 17, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
NEW YORK — Another Fashion Coterie show is ready to roll up the curtain.
With the latest edition set for Sept. 24 to 26 at the Show Piers on the Hudson River, this presentation of spring merchandise is sure to reflect a much different vibe than last year, when Coterie was rescheduled and moved from its regular location to the Jacob Javits Center after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
While the show was still sizeable, there wasn’t the same amount of space at the Javits Center as there is at the Show Piers, so it didn’t gain its usual extra-large attendance, not to mention the retail malaise that hit the nation causing severe cutbacks in ordering.
This time, vendors and buyers are prepared for a heavily attended show and that things really will be “back to normal.”
“Once the Sept. 11 anniversary has passed, I am sure buyers will be fine flying in for the show,” said Kelly Delkeskamp, co-owner and co-designer of the Los Angeles-based Fever jeans. “I don’t see that as a concern.”
Vendors are prepared to make a major shift in trends from the highly saturated mix of peasant and hippie-inspired looks to a softer, more comfortable feeling for the season. At Allen B. by Allen Schwartz, the peasant top is being replaced as a key look for spring by the tunic.
“We are getting away from this whole peasant look,” said Lloyd Singer, president of the company. “The looks are softer and more lingerie-type looks and long tunics are also important.”
Meanwhile, denim is proving its staying power. If a brand doesn’t make jeans itself, it’s sure to offer buyers denim-friendly tops, since jeans are holding strong as the American wardrobe staple.
According to an ENK spokeswoman, 930 exhibitors are expected to set up shop and around 10,000 buyers to browse the floor for this season’s show. This is a jump in exhibitors from the last Coterie show in February, when around 900 vendors took out booths.
Exhibitors mostly reacted positively to the show’s shift from the weekend to mid-week, although some were concerned about it.
“We do a lot of business over the weekends so having the show during the week takes away from that business,” Singer stressed. “I think it will be even tougher on the buyers than it is for us since it’s cheaper for them to come over the weekend. Also, I am sure it is hard for them to be away from their stores during the week, especially for the smaller stores and it’s those smaller-store buyers that attend this show. I would like it to go back to the weekend.”
For Susan White, co-owner of the New York-based knitwear firm White & Warren, she said she likes the dates to be held during the week.
“I love the new dates. I don’t usually see many buyers on Saturday anyway,” she said. “For those who find it necessary to take the cheaper Saturday layover, they can still do that and they will have an extra buying day to come up to the showrooms if they need it.”
ENK officials declined to comment on the reasons for the change in timing.
Here, a roundup of what to expect from some vendors at this season’s Coterie:
Fork, a contemporary sportswear brand based in Bridgehampton, N.Y., will show its spring merchandise for the first time at Coterie, according to Lindsay Morris, owner and designer. She said the season’s inspiration was her grandmother’s closet.
“My grandmother passed away recently and I went through her clothes before they were to be donated to a museum,” she explained. “So the line has a very vintage feel with fresh, clean colors.”
Most of the collection’s sales are in separates, Morris said, noting that buyers tend to seek out pieces rather than an entire outfit. She is concentrating on novelty looks, such as a bright orange paisley print top and a vine block print from India.
“We had a great reaction to prints last season, so I added some more this time,” she said. “We also have a lot of brights in solid silk fabrics.”
While the line is vintage-inspired, Morris said there will be no peasant looks in her booth.
“I am staying away from peasant looks,” she said. “I think we’ve had enough. It’s time for some diversity.”
As far as the change in dates are concerned, Morris said it really doesn’t affect her, since this will be the first time she is showing at Coterie.
“I really do like to be in the office during the week, but I am sure it’s better for the buyers this way,” she said. “For me, it’s really just a baby-sitting nightmare because it’s so hard to find someone during the week.”
New York-based White & Warren is using this season to capitalize on its sheer-knits group.
According to White, the focus is on the head-to-toe look of the line, and while it has always done bottoms, “we are having so much fun with them for spring,” she said.
“There were times when I used to think I would never leave the house wearing knit pants, but now it’s all about being comfortable,” she said. “These pants are comfortable and they look good.”
For tops, the collection uses “super-fine lightweight” and sheer knits that can easily be layered. A twin set with a sheer cardigan paired with a camisole is a key look. With the line’s wholesale range set at $20 to $49, White said it is offering a lot of value in the knits for the spring.
Other key items are cotton knit pants with a linen drawstring and a hoody with linen accents along the zipper. The colors for the season are tan mixed with ivory and gray, such as in a group of bandanna print knits, and a muted green jungle print.
While spring is the key collection White & Warren will be showing at Coterie, White said she will be sure to have items ready for immediate delivery.
“I’ll bring a lot of cashmere and some accessories as well,” she added.
At Allen B. by Allen Schwartz, the higher-end contemporary sportswear line from the makers of ABS by Allen B. Schwartz, novelty denim jeans with embroidery and quilting accents are expected to be big sellers, as well as the array of skirts.
“We have skirts in three different lengths and they are all strong,” Singer said.
Also, belted pants styles are expected to do well, he said. “The leather belted items are doing really great,” Singer added. “They are a good value for the customer.”
The Allen B. by Allen Schwartz line wholesales for $69 to $125.
Cynthia Steffe will have just finished her runway show at Bryant Park a week before Coterie. Her array will focus on a sporty/girly trend by mixing soft fabrics with sporty ones. The New York-based designer said she expects tunics to book well and this, she said, “is the year of the dress.”
“We have lots of dresses this season,” she said. “One of my favorites is a strapless flute-shape dress. It looks really great on.”
Steffe said she’s fine with the Coterie being held in the middle of the week, even though it is a bit tougher to get things ready so close to Fashion Week.
“I am sure my staff is happier that they don’t have to give up their weekends to go to the Coterie,” she said. “What’s tough about this is that we will be coming right off of Fashion Week and so many stores come in for that. There’s not much time for us to prepare for Coterie.”
The Cynthia Steffe collection, a division of Leslie Fay Co., wholesales for $59 to $250.
Ken Zimmerman, president of Emma Black, said he would also rather have the Coterie run throughout a weekend.
“I wish it was over the weekend,” he said. “The weekends are more relaxed and we have showrooms in New York where we can do business during the week.”
But, he said, he wouldn’t miss a chance of showing at one of the most important trade shows for the contemporary market.
According to Black, the namesake designer of the collection, this season’s line concentrates on soft, flowy, feminine looks that are loose, but shapely. She said she is adding detail to the sleeves of tunics to work well with the array of low-rise jeans on the market.
The Emma Black collection wholesales from $69 to $99.
Nanette Lepore will also come off the Fashion Week runway to prepare for Coterie. Highlights in the collection include ruching on skirts and stripes mixed with floral prints on tops.
“The collection has a real homey feel,” she said. “Like my wallpaper printed and narrow pinstripe groups.”
She also noted that she expects a hot look for spring to be blouses worn with full, flowy wide low-rise pants.
“The look is not quite as fitted to the body, but still very feminine,” she said. “I also have a lot of dresses and I have a minidress that I love and feel very strongly about. I just hope the buyers feel the same about it.”
Lepore’s color theme this season includes “grayed-out” colors like mauve, dusty pink, brown, and, of course, black. The spring wholesales for $40 for a T-shirt and $225 for a jacket.
Los Angeles-based Fever is capitalizing on its new high-waisted jeans.
“It’s very Sixties,” Delkeskamp said. “I used to have a pair when I was younger and asked some of the younger people around the office if they would wear them and they all said they loved them.”
While the company still offers low-rise styles, Delkeskamp said she is sure the higher-waist jeans will do well.
“They make you look skinny,” she said. “I still love the low-rise, but these are great.”
The Fever collection wholesale for $40 to $60. Also big for spring at Fever are tie-around wrap jeans and jeans made in a canvas fabric.
“We basically just tried all kinds of new ways to play with the body,” she said.