Outerwear vendors are getting more creative with the types of materials they use and the way they use them, giving the category more of a fashion edge. Innovation is also driving the market to create fashion items to be used year-round, rather than just during the winter.

Color, weight, trim and silhouette are key areas vendors are updating in an effort to stand out in the increasingly competitive outerwear category. The black leather coat may still be popular, but there will be many more styles on the WWDMAGIC floor this season vying for buyers’ attention, including key trends such as lightweight leather and leathers in natural colors.

Perhaps one of the most exciting areas of outerwear, however, has been the fur category. While it used to be thought of as a material reserved for full-length coats worn by elderly women, fur has seen a major revival in recent seasons. Now, outerwear manufacturers are using it in a variety of ways, from accessories to trims and linings. Fur is now being thought of as a fabric, rather than an item, vendors said.

“We do anything from classic long coats to short vests and special orders,” said Musi’s Barnes. “Sable and chinchilla have done quite well, even though chinchillas start around $2,500.”

Natural Furs also said it is focusing on two main trends for its Krio collection, according to vice president Christina Nacos. There will be more fashion-forward styles, many with a bohemian look, such as sheared coyote, trimmed with longer coyote fur, raccoon and fox. On the more elegant side of the spectrum is a group of white mink with wraps, stoles and vests. The collection wholesales from $75 to $695.

“For us, black-and-white is the biggest trend,” said Nacos. “That and the super-cropped jacket that’s a few inches shorter than [a regular jacket]. For us, it’s bohemian by day and glamorous by night.”

Novelty fur did well this past year and is expected to continue to drive sales, said Tendler Fur’s Bruni.

Bomber jackets, white mink, and parkas and bolero jackets trimmed in fur performed well for the line, which wholesales from $185 for a novelty fox vest to $3,000 for a sheared mink full-length coat, for example.“Color did well for us, which is shocking,” said Bruni. “People want something to wear more than three or four months out of the year, so when you shear or pluck a fur, it becomes more casual and could be worn over a pair of slacks or jeans.”

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