By  on October 24, 2007

Luxury knitwear houses want to be known for more than their sweaters, and for spring are offering full collections brimming with dresses and other novelty pieces.

Dresses, cardigans and complete novelty pieces in bright colors and toned-down volume will complement the traditional stable of knits next season.

Malo's Orient-inspired collection features more silk and intricate beading than the luxury knitwear on which the brand has built its reputation. Malo launched a full fashion collection for spring 2007, and that part of the business continues to grow.

New York-based Tse also featured far more than knits in its spring line. "We are a knitwear house, but we are trying to be recognized as a fashion house, so we are adding more woven pieces and using new techniques," said a Tse spokeswoman. "We are doing less classical knitwear and more interesting pieces."

Many manifestations of the concept of "imprint" inspired Tse's spring collection: imprinted prints, layering and fabric and texture mixes. Dresses, which is an important category for the collection, features a piece made of double-layered, fine-gauge jacquard, with the top layer removed in portions. A tunic — another key item — is a hand-knit pointelle mesh. Many pieces also combine woven and knit fabrics, juxtaposing heavy and light textures. In addition to a white palette, Tse also offered the color stories of navy with saffron, safari tan and turquoise, poppy red, and gray and black.

Tse's spring knits wholesale from $150 to $350 and sell at Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and specialty stores, in addition to Tse's own stores, including one in New York slated to open in January.

Launched in 2002, contemporary knitwear brand Kier+J, which wholesales from $40 to $120 and is sold in 150 doors including Fred Segal, added more fashion-forward pieces for spring. While its business was built with basic sweaters making up more than half of sales, the company this fall entered the designer contemporary area with the addition of dresses. Dresses and novelty pieces now make up almost 75 percent of sales.

For spring, 30 percent of Kier+J's bodies are jackets and cardigans designed to go on top of dresses, and the firm predicts such toppers could account for half of sales going forward.

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