By  on August 10, 2006

NEW YORK — From organic stores popping up across the country to Al Gore's much-talked-about documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," the current buzz about the environment is gradually making its way to fashion.

At the Designers & Agents Annex show, which ended its three-day run at the Starrett-Lehigh Building here on Monday, several vendors offered recycled or environmentally sustainable pieces, prompting even the show organizers to take notice.

"I have so many conversations about recycling green, renewable and sustainable products," said Barbara Kramer, who cofounded D&A with Ed Mandelbaum. "At D&A, we will be making more of an effort where we can be more conscious and energy efficient." She declined to disclose further details.

This holiday/resort edition of the show featured 68 collections, up 17 percent from last year. It attracted 1,200 visitors, up 15 percent.

Marlene Burton, president of the Sweet William boutique in Hinsdale, Ill., came to the show to see lines such as Jarbo. "We have had a great reaction to our early fall deliveries, and because the weather is so hot, people are still buying summer," she said. "We are already getting a strong reaction to leggings, boots and wedge shoes. Also, dressier things are coming back a little bit for the first time after Sept. 11."

Stacy Poritzky, co-owner of the Stash boutique in Newton Centre, Mass., was searching for large cinched belts and a more polished look overall. Poritzky picked up the And Cake line of cashmere cardigans with buttons and skulls, which continue to be a trend through resort and holiday. "Everything is still about skulls," she said. "I thought it had peaked, but it really hasn't."

Designers Mimi Levitas and Sarah Wilsterman launched the Wilster label at D&A. Levitas, through the Focus Design Group, had been making sweaters for the likes of Joie, Seven For All Mankind, Tocca and Three Dots; Wilsterman most recently was the senior women's designer at Marciano.

Wilster is about "woven shapes in knits," said Wilsterman, referring to the Lycra dresses and tops in black, aubergine and peach. "We wanted to create something that's easy to pack and easy to put on," Levitas added. Wholesale prices range from $50 to $105, and Levitas said first-year wholesale volume projections are $3 million.Also new was shoe line Toms, which aims to combine fashion with a social conscience. Founder and designer Blake Mycoskie, based in Venice, Calif., last January traveled to Argentina, where he came across an organization that arranged a shoe drive for impoverished children. He was inspired to start the line when he found the country's Alpargata canvas sandal. Mycoskie updated the shoe with funky designs such as a preppy stripe of a graffiti pattern, for $17 wholesale per pair. For each pair sold, the designer will donate a pair for children in Argentina. Since the May launch, Mycoskie has sold 10,000 pairs. The designer projected wholesale volume between $10 million and $20 million in three years. "The customer likes that they are also buying a pair for a child," he said. "They feel like they can make a difference."

Swimwear designer Elissa Dunlop offered a collection of bikinis at $90 wholesale made from vintage polyester fabrics she sources in thrift stores and rag houses. "There were a lot of new stores and no one seemed concerned about prices," said Dunlop, who is based in New York.

Designer Charlotte Ronson wasn't just an exhibitor at the show — she also shopped it for her boutique on Mulberry Street here, picking up Dunlop's swimwear for resort. "We picked up lot of new stores," Ronson noted. "For us, people loved prints, which are still bohemian and ethnic and denim-friendly. The shorts are getting a bit longer, and everything is getting a bit baggier." Among her top-selling prints was a tribal batik in a V-neck smocked dress for $154 wholesale and a long halter dress for $128. Other favorites included a belted, embroidered safari dress for $104 and a romper for $85.

At Mon Petit Oiseau, based in Los Angeles, top sellers included a vintage print silk sweatshirt for $70 wholesale, a wool double knit V-neck top for $60 and a brushed wool sweater for $65. "At this show, the buyers seem to know exactly what they want, and the buy seems quicker," said designer Tracy Wilkinson.

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