By  on September 29, 2005

NEW YORK — The latest round of trade shows last week was more than ever about the new.

"New designers are definitely the draw," said Suzanne Zarrilli, owner of Wish List, a two-unit upscale teen retailer in Greenwich, Conn., which plans to open two more Connecticut stores in New Haven and Darien in mid-October.

Zarrilli was attending the three-day Fashion Coterie at the Show Piers here, which drew more than 15,000 visitors to its four piers holding about 1,115 vendors. The main focus for buyers was to break new designers into the market and to be one of the first to have their merchandise.

Zarrilli's strategy for attacking the shows is simple: She "cherry picks" each line and takes only a few pieces from the best collections. Zarrilli said some of her new favorites included Velvet, a contemporary line based in Los Angeles specializing in T-shirts and dresses that she labeled "pretty and fresh"; Ya Ya, the contemporary sportswear company based here, and Marlow Jeans, a denim collection also based here.

In addition to finding the latest trends for teens of both sexes, Zarrilli wants to have merchandise for the mothers of the teenagers, who are still shopping the contemporary designers. Finding collections that suit both age groups is a chore. "It's a fine line," Zarrilli said.

Denise Zaccheo-Ozeri, owner of Contact, a fitness apparel boutique in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., said she came to Coterie to look for new designers so her merchandise differed from that of department stores. She said at times, the setup of the show made it a bit hard to catch and, more importantly, hold the attention of most retailers, but she continues to visit year after year.

"Sometimes it's too rushed here," she said. "I've ordered some merchandise, but I don't feel relaxed here." She did add, however, that she was pleased to see Norma Kamali back in the contemporary realm.

Renee Roman, contemporary market specialist at the Doneger Group, the buying office and fashion consulting firm here, was happy to see denim collections boasting cleaner, darker washes and liked that denim lines were experimenting with color."I thought the gray denim looked fantastic," Roman said. "I also saw some spring colors like sage, lavender and soft pink used for denim, and I'd be interested to see if the contemporary shopper is open to it."

Trend-wise, Roman said the nautical theme was still going strong and, consequently, colors such as navy, white and red were rampant.

"We see the nautical trend every season, but it seemed more obvious this time, without being costume-y," she said.

Roman also said the ultragirly trend remained potent. Secrets of Charm, a contemporary collection here, epitomizes this trend with its dresses, tops and skirts made of vintage fabrics and cotton jersey designed by Sharon Elkayam. This was the label's first showing at Coterie and the response from retailers was positive.

"I think sales for established lines are more for immediate deliveries," said Estee Elkayam, Sharon's sister and president of the company. "So far, we've had a lot of good stores come by and, at this point, it's important to meet people." The wholesale price range of the collection ranges from $59 for twill shorts to $227 for a crochet dress.

At The Train New York, a showcase for international designers at the Terminal Stores on 11th Avenue held Sept. 18-20, there were 102 brands and 3,019 visitors, an increase of 27 percent compared with February's installment.

"We have a more selective offering for this show in a comfortable atmosphere," said Hervé Huchet, fashion marketing manager for Fédération Française du Prêt-A-Porter Féminin, organizers of the show. "We choose designers based on creativity and quality, yet they must be able to produce and be adaptable to the U.S. market."

Roman, of the Doneger Group, said she was "pleasantly surprised," by The Train.

"I loved it," she said. "I think a lot of the lines add a bit of newness to the American market."

One of the collections Roman particularly liked was Plesner, designed by the Danish designer Morten Plesner, who resides in Paris. The wholesale price range for his collection is between $45 for skirts and $250 for a trenchcoat.Plesner said boutiques in urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston were most receptive. "I'm satisfied with this show," Plesner said. "Select shops are passing through."

Susanne Rehnström, of the W29 Showroom here, was at the show representing Rodebjer, a Swedish contemporary collection featuring draped tops and dresses.

"This show isn't as mainstream as some of the others," Rehnström said. "We mostly see the specialty boutiques."

The New Yorker Hotel hosted the Nouveau Collective trade show Sept. 18-21. It marked the debut of the charity runway show "A Day in the Life of a Woman," featuring 30 collections that took to the runway of the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center Studios, which is next door to the hotel. Looks were auctioned and 60 percent of all net proceeds will be donated to the Greater New York Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Organizers expect the benefit fashion show to be a recurring event.

"We made the show a mirror image of the Nouveau Collective show for spring," said Joanne Feinstein, president of the show, which welcomed more than 800 vendors and about 2,200 visitors.

One of the collections to hit the runway was Jacqueline Quinn, the product of the Irish designer of the same name. Joel Rappaport of the Rapps-New York showroom at 250 West 39th Street here represents the young designer, who showed at the trade show for the first time. The collection is skirt-driven and marked by beautiful silk organza skirts.

"We saw mostly specialty boutiques and quite a few from California," Rappaport said. "A lot of the boutiques didn't want us to sell to anyone else in the area and that's a hard thing to deal with. I tell them it's first come, first served, and since there are no other sales representatives, I have complete jurisdiction. Retailers can mark it up and won't have competition," he said, noting that he did about $100,000 in sales at the show, but expects the figure to increase.

"We did $100,000 in hand," Rappaport said. "More than 50 percent of the buyers haven't placed their orders yet, so that number could grow as high as $300,000. I've never been as busy as this at the Nouveau Collective show."The wholesale price range of the Jacqueline Quinn collection is between $89 and $160.

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