By  on April 30, 2007

NEW YORK — The May market will play a dual role for vendors and retailers, both as a platform for reevaluation of fall and holiday buys and to provide insight into spring 2008.

After a stressful but successful February market, which represented the combined January and March editions for the first time, next week's event will face a key challenge in garnering traffic from smaller specialty stores, a majority of which do not travel to New York so they can stay home to oversee Mother's Day gift purchasing. That was the case in February when some specialty boutique owners and buyers opted to stay in their stores for Valentine's Day business, which stands with Mother's Day as one of the biggest gift-buying holidays for lingerie, sleepwear and robes.

Despite the tough choice for smaller stores, vendors anticipate a small but potent market propelled by major department and specialty stores with buying teams not needed for store operations.

However, the main thrust of manufacturers will be completing fall, holiday and Valentine's Day buys, as well as previewing new concepts and product for spring.

Top items will include:

-- Supersoft blends of Modal and cotton.

-- Interesting lace treatments such as insets and piecing.

-- Feminine touches like ruffles, ruching, inverted pleating and lavish embroideries.

-- Organic cotton.

-- Dual-purpose, dressy at-homewear items, including caftans, tunics, pants and jackets.

Eileen West, whose namesake sleepwear line is produced under license by the Komar Co., said she has "lots of new product" for spring.

"The theme is 'Spring Eternal.' We've added great new fabrics like Modal blends, a Modal French terry that's dreamy soft and 100 percent organic knit cotton," West said. "There will also be lots of pretty hand-painted prints….We've updated our silhouettes quite a bit and added younger-looking styles."

Among West's key silhouettes is a bias-cut sleep gown with spaghetti straps that's been updated with center-front inverted pleats, and "nontraditional" pajamas with cropped pants that don't feature button fronts and are designed with unusual lace insets and lace piecing. Colors in solids and prints include aqua, lilac and magenta.

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