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Prints for Summer ’04: More Polished and Brighter

Moving away from heavier, layered looks, vendors at last week’s Printsource and Directions shows opted for brighter, more defined looks.

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NEW YORK — It’s time to make a clean sweep.

In a move away from the heavier, layered looks that were popular for several seasons, exhibitors at last week’s duo of textile design shows — Printsource and Directions, both held at the Hotel Pennsylvania — opted for more defined looks in a brighter palette for summer 2004.

While many of the featured styles at both shows were not new — tropicals, batiks, geometrics and conversationals were all important focuses — they were recolored and restyled, many attendees noted.

“There was certainly a move away from overly feminine, frilly looks,” said David Witkewicz, design director for Real Clothes, a private label brand at Saks Fifth Avenue, who shopped both shows. “The feeling was much cleaner. It was still feminine…just not as sugar coated as before.”

Taylor McArdle, an exhibitor at Printsource, agreed, “This season is less about layers of techniques and more about simple, sophisticated…looks.”

Examples included pale, handpainted and watercolor-like florals, as well as styles such as a printed dot ground with dots embroidered on top.

At The Style Council, also at Printsource, Beatrice Grande, sales associate, said clients were “responding to cleaner artwork that can go straight into production.” Style Council offered a black-and-white story, both printed and embroidered, with an “ethnic island feel.”

Updated tropicals were on display at both shows. London Portfolio, exhibiting at Directions, showed colorful tropicals.

“The look is more retro than before,” said James Lucariello, sales associate. “The scale is enormous and it’s a lot more leafy.”

Also at Directions, The Colorfield offered new colorations on their selection of tropicals. While they were more two-toned last summer, this time around there were bright multicolored florals featured on dark grounds.

In addition to tropicals, batiks made a resurgence, as well. Adam Read, co-owner, said, “The technique and color are definitely different.”

Daniel Sager’s collection at Printsource also had a variety of batiks, many of them in indigo and white. “It’s a true summer story,” he said.

This story first appeared in the April 29, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Geometrics were also on the rise. At Folder, part of Printsource, clear-cut geometrics in blues and oranges were shown, some with a clear foil on top. “They’re screen printed after they’re digitally printed,” said Alan Dougall, co-owner.

Brewster, also at Printsource, showed some fall 2004 looks that featured geometrics.

“They’re very graphic and much cleaner than before,” said Paul Brewster, owner. Many of them were featured on jacquard or devore grounds and were colored in reds, oranges, blacks and greens. “I’ve heard a lot of requests for them,” he added, “and the grounds we’re using add a deep, rich texture to the piece that really makes it look new and different.”

Playful conversationals were another trend.

“People have been asking for them. They’re whimsical, colorful and light — something that is needed right now,” said Robert Kelly, account executive at Splash, part of Printsource, where conversationals included a fashionable-woman motif.

Themes at The Colorfield included a Fifties look with birds and cages.

“The Fifties-style conversationals I saw offered a fresh twist,” said Saks’ Witkewicz. “Our customer likes updated classics so these looks will work great for her.”

Color, meanwhile, was saturated and bright.

“All the color was very uplifting,” said Sharon Pepe, buyer and product development manager for private label knitwear and noncollection knitwear at Henri Bendel. “It was very fun and cheery.” Pepe added that there were not as many soft pastels as in past summer collections. “The brights were very whitened,” she noted.

The duo at Alice Hume, exhibiting at Directions, featured a variety of interesting color combinations.

“We’ve chosen very hot and rich colors for our summer collection,” said Hume. “They’re clashing and unusual, but work well together.”

Satin burnouts featured on print grounds came in yellow, pink and blue, among other combinations. There also were brightly colored leathers that were printed, slashed by hand and appliquéd with floral motifs.

Milkprint, also at Directions, showed hot colors, as well.

“Yellow has been particularly strong,” said Sarah Gordon, owner. Pinks and reds were key, too, she added.

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