By  on September 19, 2007

NEW YORK — Buyers at the Moda Manhattan show this week said they were spending their open-to-buys, which held steady from last year, on dresses, jackets with lantern sleeves and colorful pieces.

The trade show took place Sunday through Tuesday at the Metropolitan Pavilion and the Altman Building, without its usual sidekicks FAME and AccessoriesTheShow, which all exhibit together multiple times a year at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here.

For a spring show, though, exhibitors reported buyers were also requesting more immediate fill-ins. Molly B, a Fall River, Mass.-based preppy line, did well with its dresses, which wholesale from $85 to $135. Brittany Eldridge, Molly B's New England sales rep, noted buyers were "buying very close." "Everyone coming in to write spring is writing for holiday, too," Eldridge said. "People are holding onto their money."

Kirat Anand, president of contemporary line Kas, said sales broke down to about 25 percent for holiday, 35 percent for cruise and 40 percent for spring. He said buyers were writing orders for his print, satin and sequined dresses, which wholesale for around $80.

"This is our first time in this venue, and it's much better than Javits," Anand said. "Buyers here are not as lost, and they are more directed to the clothing."

Designer Lisa Hunter reported this was the best trade show ever for her Palo Alto, Calif.-based line Vian Hunter. She said her dresses, which wholesale around $200, sold strongly in classic black and prints, and she also did well with jackets with lantern sleeves.

"I love this venue," said Jennifer Reale, designer for her Boston-based eponymous line. "It has a boutiquey feel with the hardwood floors and windows, and your things really display nicely."

Reale's collection wholesales from $44 to $169. She said she was doing well with her dresses, wide-leg pants and cropped jackets, particularly in a black-and-white color story.??

Renee DuMarr said her New York-based line was enjoying strong traffic and order writing, particularly for its "younger, more contemporary pieces." She reported doing well with sequined pieces and tunic dresses with embellished necklines, with a focus on immediate buys to February.Jane Popovich and Jennifer Allen, who own the Pasadena, Calif., women's store Flatter, reported their open-to-buys were about the same as a year ago, but that they are "a little nervous about the economy" and are holding off on writing. They noted dresses, particularly in prints, were popular items on the floor.

Buyers and exhibitors praised Moda Manhattan's venue.

"It's a great venue for us — we just wish it were a little bigger because we have people who would like to attend that we couldn't accommodate," said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which owns Moda.

He said Moda was able to squeeze 30 percent more square footage out of the venue this year, with reconfiguration of the space, and that buyer attendance kept pace, growing 27.5 percent from the debut last year.

"People were really excited about this show as a launch last September, and exhibitors are really excited to see how much this market has grown," Jones said, adding exhibitors wanting to show in September for the spring market tend to command a higher price point than exhibitors for the more immediate markets that show at Javits.

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