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Mod might be the look in New York for fall, but not in Europe or the Far East.
Trendy retailers in Paris, Milan, London, Berlin, Madrid and Tokyo report that while miniskirts have generally sold well at retail in most cities, the rest of the Mod look hasn’t taken hold. Instead, European and Asian consumers are going for Seventies or Eighties styles ranging from track suits and legwarmers to rock ’n’ roll leathers and chunky knits. Denim is still hot — either slim and tight or wide-legged — but cargo pants appear to have had their day.
This story first appeared in the September 29, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This past summer, chic girls in the Left Bank neighborhood of Saint Germain sported cargo pants for drinks at the Café de Flore. But this season, they’ll ditch them for tight miniskirts and oversized sweaters.
Buyers canvassed at a cross-section of Saint Germain boutiques said the cargo was out and that minis were selling like hotcakes. They said business in September has been strong, which is welcome news after a tough August when a drop in tourist trade and temperatures soaring above 100 degrees dampened demand.
Other strong-selling looks ran the gamut from Eighties and Fifties retro looks to high-waisted trousers and low-rider jeans.
At the Bon Marche department store, fashion director Christine Samain said very feminine styles were moving best.
“But it has to have a very special style,” she said, citing T-shirts from Rick Owens to beautiful basics such as trenchcoats from Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela. “It has to be timeless but with a twist,” she added.
Mod styles have been à la mode at Bon Marche, with minis and cocktail dresses from Marc by Marc Jacobs, Isabelle Marant, Ann Demeulemeester and APC selling briskly.
“Our customers love the season’s new proportions,” she said. “They love the new high-waisted trousers, especially from Balenciaga, Veronique Leroy and Ann Demeulemeester.”
For juniors, Samain added that low-waisted jeans from Diesel and Citizens For Humanity were strong.
At Onward, a designer boutique that stocks Viktor & Rolf, Dries Van Noten, Antonio Marras, Preen and Marni, buyer Bianca Majcen said Eighties looks remained strong, such as printed tops from Gibó by Julie Verhoeven and blousons from Hussein Chalayan.
“Above all, the items have to be elaborate, either in their cut or in the fabric,” she said. “We’ve been doing very well with the sculptural shirts from Viktor & Rolf and with the prints from Dries.”
Majcen said minis have been great so far. “But our looks aren’t really Fifties or Sixties — even if Marni’s graphic minis are selling well. Generally, girls still want Eighties styles.”
Meanwhile, designer Isabelle Marant said business had been good at her Saint Germain address. “The Mod style’s selling well. Not necessarily as a total look but as separates.”
Marant said fitted trousers were selling, but that cargoes were not. “Miniskirts and pencil skirts are selling very well. Our customers are not buying a total look. They are buying the main pieces that underline the look of the season, such as leggings, oversized sporty jackets and oversized sweaters.”
Designer Vanessa Bruno said the Eighties continued strong at her shop. “The trend is a tight mini paired with an oversized sweater.”
She said colors such as indigo, rose and black were the best. “Retro and futuristic is good. Girls are into mixing styles right now.”
At Agnes B, a spokeswoman also reported that the bestseller so far was the mini. “The customers are buying bright colors,” she added.
At Sonia Rykiel, early fall bestsellers include leggings, skirt suits, straight skirts, perfecto-style leather jackets and handbags covered with chains or studs.
— Robert Murphy
For fall in London, it’s almost all about the mini.
“Minis are great right now,” said Suzanne Burstein, owner and buyer at Feathers on Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, who cited the short kick mini by Alfredo Agiro at $589 and funky corduroy minis by Sanctuary at $125 as current bestsellers.
Bridget Cosgrove, buyer for Matches on Ledbury Road, agreed. “Minis are hugely popular right now, people are buying them to team with opaque or footless tights, it’s a big look for winter.” Dylan Ross at Question Air on Westbourne Grove said the store’s standout minis include looks from Twill 22 and Vivienne Westwood.
Due to skirts selling so well, cargo sales are suffering. Ross said cargo pant sales at Question Air are slowing down this season and people are instead opting for jeans. Cosgrove, who preempted the trend, agreed. “I didn’t buy any [cargos] this season, they have been such a big trend for so long, I felt it had to end sooner or later, I think people just got sick of seeing them everywhere, hence the move back to dresses and skirts, especially the mini, I didn’t buy any pencil skirt styles for winter.”
Burstein said she has brought in pencil skirts but in less classic styles. “Ermanno Scervino has great ruched pencil skirts in suede for $900.”
Another look not flying out of stores is Mod. “We haven’t gone for that look at all this season,” said Ross. “We’ve gone more rock ’n’ roll, leather is doing really well.” Burstein agreed, “We have great leather biker jackets from Katharine Hamnett and Oggetti Smaritti.”
Cosgrove is keen on Mod elements but not the entire look. “Patent is big for winter, Marc Jacobs patent shoes are doing very well as are Roland Mouret’s patent trim skirts, also Dolce & Gabbana’s monochrome shoes are big this season.”
For fall, people are keen on more embellished items. “We have amazing handcrafted one-off pieces such as skirts by OneTaste which are from the Hmong tribe in North Vietnam,” said Burstein. “They’re flying out of the shop.”
“Embellished pieces are selling really well, I find that really identifiable fashion items are always the first to go, people always come back for basics.” said Cosgrove. Ross agreed. “They’re always the first to go because they’re the most obvious, basic items sell steadily throughout the year.”
Another trend for fall is over-the-knee boots, although Ross said it’s too early to tell how big the trend will be.
At Matches, over-the-knee boots already rank among the store’s best sellers. “The Marni boots are already flying out,” said Cosgrove. “They’ve had lots of press, which always helps.”
As far accessories are concerned, Burstein said necklaces are popular, as is sandstone jewelry from Ruyi. She also pointed out that colorful bags were selling well, especially the printed floral kangaroo skin bags. Ross also said bright bags are selling well at Question Air, especially Vivienne Westwood styles and Orla Kiely’s bright designs. At Matches, it’s the must-have styles from Chloé and Dolce & Gabbana that are doing well.
All stores said belts are popular. Cosgrove said they’re making a big comeback for fall, in particular, ones that fit through trouser belt loops rather than the wider and more chunkier styles that sit low on the hips.
In terms of colors for fall, Burstein said people are buying earth tones and lots of black and red. At Matches, Cosgrove said people are heavily into black and white but are using bright colors to highlight their look, such as pumpkin orange.
At Feathers, Burstein said her most popular brands for fall are Rick Owens, Antonio Marras, Pucci and Ann Demeulemeester.
Ross said his key brands are Paper Denim & Cloth, For All Mankind, Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood and Juicy. The Twill 22 parka coats with fur trim for $390 have almost sold out. New names for fall that he’s expecting to do well are Yanuk and Saddelites.
— Sarah Harris
The best place to hit hot Spanish retailing these days is the salacious, gender-bending neighborhood skirting Plaza Chueca, particularly its main shopping artery Calle Fuencarral.
Fuencarral is no chi-chi promenade; it’s noisy and down-at-the-heels with a bevy of junior retailers and specialized denim labels. It’s also one hip street. For instance, in recent months, both Custo-Barcelona, one of Spain’s most international fashion brands, and Adolfo Dominguez’s younger label “U” have opened stores. Other retail neighbors include Diesel, Quiksilver, Pepe Jeans, Levi’s, MAC, The Deli Room, one of Madrid’s most original multibrand shops, and Mango, the giant domestic retailer that is Spain’s second-largest apparel exporter (after Zara) with 662 units worldwide.
Its vast retail presence at Fuencarral 70 — 13,270-square-feet on two-levels — houses a full range of women’s wear categories, while the entire second floor is given over to sale merchandise. According to a spokeswoman for the Barcelona-based manufacturer, hot selling items for early fall are “miniskirts, tartan plaids and anything in corduroy — pants, jackets, both sport and dress styles.” Corduroy has replaced denim, she said, “at least in our stores.” Mango’s core customer is between 18 and 35 years of age, she said. Mango is known for its accessible price points. For example, a miniskirt sells for $29 to $34 and a corduroy jacket for $52 to $69.
Other fall trends include a strong accessories package like color-coordinated footwear, high fuchsia pumps with pointed-toe lasts and boxing-style booties; small handbags; gloves, and sunglasses.
A spokeswoman for Custo-Barcelona said a grouping of sleeveless dresses in stretch cotton with pattern-mixed border hems ($149) is selling “locamente (like crazy). Our dress stock is generally sold out.” Also selling briskly are miniskirts in pieced-together prints ($115-$172) and Custo’s signature novelty tops and T-shirts in bright-color and texture mixes ($115).
“U” by Adolfo Dominguez, a clean bilevel space and the international brand’s first Madrid unit, carries women’s, men’s, accessories, fragrances and a few items from the Galician designer’s new Home line. Casual sportswear is early fall’s best-selling classification, including tank tops sprinkled with glitter, novelty sweaters, jackets and bomber styles, priced from $40 to $172. He said popular colors are red, brown, navy and black.
Nearby on Calle Santa Barbara, The Deli Room is the best showcase in town for emerging Spanish designers. Its “menu” for fall features flippy whimsical styling from such such labels as Miriam Ocáriz, Ailanto, Josep Font and Jocomomola, Sybilla’s junior brand meaning “gosh how cool.”
For fall, 31-year-old owner Sonia Ruiz pointed to a lime green waistless corduroy dress ($132) and elephant-legged pants in faded eggplant ($126), both by Jocomomola, as strong sellers. Another winner is a front-to-back reversible top, orange on one side, fuchsia on the other, by Giménez and Zuazo’s Boba division. It retails for $60.
“My client doesn’t have a lot of money,” she said. “I can’t be too trendy.”
— Barbara Barker
Forget Mod when it comes to Berlin. Stores in the young, hip neighborhood around the Hackesche Markt in Berlin Mitte have generally given the Sixties the slip for fall. Sure, there are miniskirts to be found on the racks, but that’s where they’re mostly staying, retailers said. Clean, geometric looks à la Courreges and Marc Jacobs are nowhere to be seen (except in Zara’s windows at the other end of town), and over-the-knee boots couldn’t be scarcer.
“When it comes to Mod, Berlin differs from other cities,” commented Peter Matic, owner of the shops To Die For and Hotel. “Berliners love second-hand chic and Seventies looks like training suits in particular. Our best label [at To Die For] is D&G, and customers can really identify with everything that they do. Good chic basics also sell really well, but then again, so does a young, fashionable line like Nolita, though consumers tend to mix that with basics.”
Highly detailed or ornate items are a problem, he said, but belted and bondage accents are strong, as are Eighties’ look batwing tops. Cargos, on the other hand, are over. What’s selling are very slim pants, leggings or more man-tailored, straight-legged pants.
At Hotel, which caters to a somewhat younger clientele with a range of Italian lines, he said the Eighties are the rage. Accessories are hot, especially neon, crosses, silver chains to wear on pants and slim belts.
Overall, Matic said the season’s biggest story is “anything goes.”
“(Fashion) has to be fun, but the trend is definitely Eighties oriented, with batwings; leggings; thick, rustic sweaters; a bit of British chic, and pleated skirts. And in Berlin, it’s all wildly mixed, much more so than in Munich or Dusseldorf,” he noted. Berliners’ individualistic attitude also means they don’t go for complete outfits, but rather opt for items they can build into their own personal look, he said.
Mod was also missing at Nubiaz, “but we don’t buy according to what’s in, but rather brands that we find interesting and that are both innovative and saleable,” said store manager Morris Wink. That means Diesel, Evisu, Fake London, Style Lab, Blue Blood and VSCT.
Jeans are an important part of Nubiaz’s business, and indeed, Hackesche Markt is a big jeans neighborhood, with freestanding stores from the likes of Diesel, Miss Sixty and, soon to open, Mavi.
“Denim has slowed down,” Wink said, “but low on the hip, straight legs are doing the best, but really big, oversized looks are beginning to move, maybe as a reaction to all the tight, sexy styles.”
At Respectwomen, business has been “pretty basics heavy” and minis have been a hard sell. The top labels at Respectwomen, the sister store to Respectmen and Respectless, are Personal Affairs, Martin’s, Clothecraft, Woolrich and Elke Fieldler. “The look here is more plain, a few stripes, perhaps, but no real embellishment. The look can’t be too playful or pretty. Berlin is sort of sad at the moment,” store manager Christina Wiedwald said. “Everyone keeps talking about Fashion City Berlin, but when I see what people buy, I ask myself, ‘Where?’”
For Berlin knitwear designer Claudia Skoda, just two blocks away, the situation is quite different. “The thickest, heaviest wool coats” such as her big, shaggy, mixed yarn, nomadic looking toppers for men and women “were the first things to move, even on the hottest days. And little ensembles made up of patterned alpaca knit jackets and minis also sold, and the mini dresses are all gone. Minis are definitely working here,” she said
At Holly, a shop specializing in young German designers, a bit of humor is required. Black — Berlin’s color No. 1 — is also Holly’s best shade, “but black with a wink,” said designer and Holly co-owner Christian Breil. A good example, he said, is Kriebel’s “crooked sail skirt” — a stiff, assymetrical black skirt that looks like a sailboat caught in a gale. Or Breil’s own C. Beau black viscose Lycra turtleneck, size 36 stamped on the neck like a dressmaker’s dummy. Or the simple black dress — already reordered twice after one week of fall selling — a bustier sheath, the single spaghetti strap also the strap of the pocketbook which is attached.
“You can’t be too elegant here in Berlin,” he went on. “The look has to be a little cheeky, but people do actually want to buy lovely things.”
— Melissa Drier
Sixties classic and Eighties rock style are megatrends in Tokyo.
Sophisticated classic styles of the Sixties’ snug silhouette attract a lot of attention, while legwarmers and knee boots from the Eighties are catching on throughout the country, according to fashion retailers here.
Black is often used, updated with accent colors such as purple or red. Fewer embroideries and laces for decorative purposes are used, but items with unusual styling, such as jackets with high drapability, have been big sellers. Miniskirts are selling this season with colored tights, leg warmers and boots. The length of the skirt is rather short for the street style, while conservative styling runs closer to knee length. Pants are slimmer than previous seasons.
Tweeds appear to be everywhere in coats, jackets and even one-piece dresses. But they take a different approach, such as with lamé, or other unusual man-made fibers. Junya Watanabe’s torn and distorted tweed is one example.
Accessories are playing a big role this season as well. Patent leather is the big trend for shoes and accessories, and tights are selling in solid colors, patterned prints and sometimes with lamé prints. Antique and vintage clothing are also prevalent. Classic style is evident at Barneys New York, with such brands as Rochas and Miry.
Mod is one big theme for Change United Arrows in Shibuya. A key look is a Mod-style parka with a pencil miniskirt. “Due to the cool summer this year, knit items started to sell earlier than a year ago and an interest in fall and winter items is increasing rapidly,” said a store spokeswoman.
Merchandise from Dries Van Noten, especially jacquard knit items, and Rick Owens quickly sold out. Emilio Pucci is also popular. Other strong sellers include Berhard Willhelm’s printed sweatshirts ($491); Blaak’s denim pants ($259) from London in washed denim and a slightly slim silhouette, and Jun Okamoto’s cache-coeur tops ($134) in rayon and nylon, said the store spokeswoman.
Patent leather items are hot this season at Changes United Arrows, including patent pumps from a brand called “She just loves it” ($259). “Patent shoes sold out very quickly. We made an additional order for them,” said the spokesman. Dollar figures were converted at current exchange rate.
Mini cardigans from the brand “sacai” ($254) are catching on quickly, as are cotton bolero cardigans from “She just loves it” ($114), which are often worn casually over the shoulders. This month, colored tights and border tights from “She just loves it” are expected to be a big seller.
In addition, legwarmers that go well with boots are big hits. As for color, red, purple and other primary colors are strong.
At RESTIR Tokyo in Ginza, Y3 is selling well, as are pants by nuala ($114). But among the best-selling items are a kimono sleeve knit by Han Ahn soon ($134) that can be worth instead of a denim jacket and a Dolce & Gabbana belt ($205).
At Barneys New York in Shinjuku, it’s all about brands. “Items that convey a brand’s identity sell well,” said a store spokeswoman, such as jackets and skirts from Rochas, Rick Owens’ knits ($696-$767), Dries Van Noten’s skirts, Martin Margiela’s items and Clements Ribeiro’s Sixties’ style skirts. Trench coats have sold out, including Barneys New York’s own label in black, khaki and beige, while lightweight coats are also selling. Fur items were strong at the beginning of the season, including knit outerwear with fur trim. As for accessories, Balenciaga’s bags sold out, patent accessories have sold well and, in shoes, consumers’ attention has shifted from pumps to boots.
— Koji Hirano
Sporty looks with an edge are what’s selling in Milan’s Corso di Porta Ticinese area. This neighborhood, not far from the lively canal district in the city’s southwest corner, is home to second-hand stores, multibrand boutiques and chain stores. It’s not quite Greenwich Village, but the area of independent record stores, antique shops and pubs is pretty hip for Milan and draws a mixed crowd of fashionistas and teens in goth and punk garb.
“The area has become more commercial. Despite the fact that it is old and traditional, many new stores have opened here,” said Federico De Maio, who owns a Stussy shop on the main drag, Corso Porta Ticinese. Umberto Secchi, co-owner of multi-brand shop Surplus, agrees that the zone has livened up over the past few years but is a tad more critical of the big chains coming in.
“The monobrand stores have arrived and they took the nicer spots,” he said. “This used to be an area for artisans and more alternative stores.”
Denim and vintage-style sport shirts and tops abound and that is just what is selling this season, according to the local shop owners.
At multibrand shop Surplus, which stocks brands like Gola, Audace, Merc, Adidas and Ben Sherman, best-sellers include colorful Juicy Couture-inspired zip-up sweatshirts by brands such as Brandy and Funny Kitties. They sell in the $37 to $45 range. Pricier versions from Bad Rats and Gola cost $60 and $94, respectively. For bottoms, girls are going for jeans, especially by brands such as Rockwood, Indian Rose and Levi’s. Among the more popular models, a pair of camouflage flares by Rockwood costs $60, while denim trousers by Indian Rose with athletic stripes running down the sides goes for $92.
“The clientele consists of very young kids from Milan from downtown and the surrounding areas. They tend to be university students, middle- to upper-class kids,” said Secchi. Over the years, Surplus has evolved from a used clothing store into a pricier boutique with new merchandise. He noted the growing trend among girls here to couple tight tops with large baggy pants.
A few doors down at Carhartt, low-waisted carpenter pants in canvas or denim are doing well this season.
“Last year, (girls) were looking for these pants and they were forced to get men’s,” said the store’s manager, Luca Bertoldi. The canvas version costs $86 while the denim version goes for $124. The store, open for about three years, has a more masculine bent than a feminine one and caters to everyone from “the 15-year old kid to his 50-year-old father who rides a motorcycle,” Bertoldi said.
Sporty looks are also popular at Stussy but they are bit edgier. De Maio said the store’s clientele, which consists mostly of teens and foreign tourists, are opting for velvety pullovers in stylish hues like violet and brown. They retail from $114 to $132.
Further down the street, near a series of Roman columns, sits multi-brand boutique Purple, which stocks labels like Corpo Nove, Paul Frank, J. Lindeberg and Fake London.
“I think stores (in Milan) lack a bit of courage to buy new brands,” said manager Fulvio Comoli. “We take the chance on a new brand and promote it.” He said buyers for the store case cities from Paris to Tokyo for emerging fashion as well as quirky objects like key chains made out of Lego men.
Bestsellers include a bomber jacket by J. Lindeberg for $394 and a sporty blazer with drawstring trim from Corpo Nove for $484. Fake London jeans sporting a dog appliqué on the back pocket and a chain are also selling well at $310.
— Amanda Kaiser