By  on August 8, 2007

Colors, prints, decorations. As the resort knit market begins this week, a host of trends are emerging to foreshadow a lively spring.

"Instead of a sea of basics, the customer wants something new," said Elan Eliau, founder and chief executive officer of Joseph A., whose knits wholesale from $19 to $39. "We're not trying to play it safe in a tough time for retail."

Going forward, more of Joseph A.'s collection than ever is skewed toward novelty, with more stories and trends than in past seasons. Resort follows a fall full of novelty, and spring adds to that with prints, bright colors, embellishment, feminine styles and Mod looks.

Prints are perhaps the biggest trend of the season. Knit vendors report that black-and-white designs, animal prints, florals and stripes top the pattern list.

"We can sell animal prints anytime of year now — it's not just for fall anymore," said Samantha Browne-Bills, design director for Designers Originals, which wholesales from $9.50 to $16. Zebra prints or other incarnations of black-and-white are the most popular, as they combine two trends.

"Black-and-white always sells well for early spring, and this year there's a whole black-and-white story with pops of color," said Michelle Antonelli, designer for HMS Productions Inc.'s Cable & Gauge, which wholesales from $14 to $29 and is carried at Macy's, Dillard's and Belk.

Bright colored striped tops fall into what John Hoffmann, design director for the Macy's exclusive Mercer Street Studio, a division of Hampshire Group, is calling the "sport chic" trend. "We are using stripes as a status symbol that evoke the Hamptons or Palm Springs," Hoffmann said.

Another trend which, like Mod, hails from the past, is Sixties-inspired ultrafeminine looks. A soft color palette, paired with feminine details like pleating, bows, ruching and smocking, creates looks Hoffmann dubbed the The Marilyn or The Secretary.

Besides prints, vendors contend color may be the biggest trend for spring. The palette is full of brights, like blue, green and tomato. "But it's not Crayola crayon bright," said Ellen Dawson, executive vice president of August Silk, whose sweaters wholesale from $15 to about $25 and are sold at Dillard's, Macy's and specialty stores. "It's more about saturation of color."

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