By and  on April 13, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Major retailers looking for back-to-school teenage trends at the market here saw Grecian looks, fur-trimmed outerwear such as puffy bomber jackets and utility styles like camouflage pants and bandleader jackets.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Wet Seal Inc. and Kohl’s Inc. absorbed the trend direction provided at the Barbara Fields Buying Office seminar, which coincided with the fashion market serving misses’ and contemporary buyers at the California Market Center, the New Mart, the Cooper Design Space and the Gerry Building.

“We come to this market to reinforce what our trend direction is and we think through what we will buy more or less of,” said Liz Sweney, Penney’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel.

Sweney was seen conferring with members of her team — Penney’s brought more than 40 representatives — nodding in agreement over buys they felt were spot-on and discussing the trends. Other looks included high-waisted flowing tunics covered in beads and twofer (corduroy and fleece) jackets by Fang, liberty-print corduroy jackets with ladylike skirts at Lunachix and velveteen double-breasted jackets and herringbone trousers at Zinc.

Wet Seal, the Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based retailer, also was represented at market, led by consultant Michael Gold, who was hired in November to help turn around the company. Gold also runs Stitches, a privately owned low-priced juniors’ clothing chain based in Toronto with more than 400 locations in Canada and the U.S.

Gold called the revival strategy — competing for low-priced, fast fashion against rival Forever 21 — a “no-brainer.”

“I feel that we’ve just started with the turnaround,” Gold said. “We’ll be looking at [providing] more fashion at great prices and becoming more keen on the whole image of Wet Seal as a fashion-forward retailer with unbelievable prices.”

Along with major chains, specialty stores shopped the misses’ and contemporary market, the second in three weeks after organizers couldn’t agree on one date to coincide with fashion week and service European sourcing deadlines.

Almost two dozen vendors, including And Cake and Alvin Valley, who participated in Designers & Agents in March, returned for the market and met with buyers who missed the first show. About 50 vendors at the Brighte show, such as A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz, Zoe D and Streets Ahead, made an encore appearance at the Fashion Theater of the California Market Center. They were showing some new products.

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