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Retailers Scour Intermezzo for Summer Hits

With the holiday season behind them, retailers shopping for summer merchandise at the Intermezzo show here were highly selective.

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NEW YORK — With the holiday season behind them, retailers shopping for summer merchandise at the Intermezzo show here were highly selective.

Erin Crandall, head buyer at Shopbop.com, said she liked a lot of what she saw at the show, which ended its three-day run at Piers 92 and 94 on Wednesday and featured about 560 exhibitors.

“We saw some cute embroidered boho tops from a few vendors that we think will be good for summer, very in line with the hippie chic look we’ve been seeing everywhere,” she said. “Juicy has a strong summer delivery, as does Vince. In denim, we liked the high-waisted shorts that 18th Amendment was showing.”

Ann Watson, fashion director at Henri Bendel, found pieces from Los Angeles-based 291, a new label that she said “addressed the summer lifestyle very well.” Watson loved the soft, tiered dresses and tops in appealing colors, such as yellow, green and purple.

“There were voids; for instance, I would have liked to find more easy, pretty dresses that were not in jersey fabrics and I was hoping to see more prints,” she said. “Overall, I thought the accessories at Intermezzo were much stronger than the apparel.”

For Stacy Pecor, owner of the four Olive & Bette’s boutiques here, business is up 17 percent this month compared with last January. Although other businesses were challenged, Pecor said she had a stellar holiday season, with sales 9 percent higher than December 2006.

“It hasn’t been my best year ever, but it certainly was my best December ever,” she said, taking a break on Wednesday. “I think it worked out so well because we brought in a lot of new vendors and we brought in product late in the season.”

Pecor said that overall she finds she has to work harder to get what she wants for her stores. With the economy struggling, Pecor said she needs to give her customers enhanced reasons to shop. She has found success in buying closer to the season and offering new designers that her customers haven’t seen. Previously, she ordered a lot from Splendid and Michael Stars. While she still makes substantial buys from them, Pecor has added more from designers like Zooey, James Perse, Rebecca Beeson and Ode, a new T-shirt collection.

“Now is really an exciting time for new designers to shine,” she said. “And it’s also a great time for established designers to become innovative.”

For Randi Siegal, owner of the three Rapunzel’s Closet stores in Palm Beach, Fla., the holiday season wasn’t as successful as she would have liked, but she saw product at Intermezzo that was enticing.

“Our third week in December was down,” she said. “However, our first week in January has been way up, which offset the poor December sales.”

Looking ahead, Siegal said she liked a lot of what she saw at the show.

“There were lots of gauzy light fabrics from Joie, really nice satin and leather trim handbags from Botkier, really original designs,” she said. “I love their line. The lightweight and light-colored denim washes from Paige, Seven [For All Mankind] and Joe’s Jeans were great. The only thing was that there were barely any clean white jeans. It’s disappointing because April and May are still spring.”

On the exhibitor side, many vendors said Intermezzo was slower than usual, but they were positive about the summer selling season.

“Our high-waisted and low-waisted styles are doing very well,” said Orion Anthony, designer of Small Town jeans, a contemporary denim brand based in Vancouver. “I did this show to get some early reads on fall, but I’m happy to see that many stores are actually placing orders.”

The Small Town denim line has been in business for about five years, but Anthony only introduced his women’s line about a year ago. The collection wholesales from $90 to $95.

Also new to the show was Miami-based ZG by Karina Grimaldi, a line of silk jersey printed dresses, skirts and tops. Vanay Gordon, sales representative of the brand, said that she was getting a good reaction from retailers.

“This is only her second season,” Gordon said. “So it’s been very good so far.”

Grimaldi develops all of her own prints. The line wholesales from $69 to $139.

Another new label was 25 Singles, a T-shirt and casual dress line here. Based in the Pure Luxe showroom here, 25 Singles offers layering tanks and Ts in basic colors such as black and white, as well as pink, red, green and purple. The line wholesales from $9 to $34 and is manufactured in Los Angeles.

“This line is a real margin builder, which obviously stores love,” said Aaron Zoref, chief operating officer of the Pure Luxe showroom here, which also houses the contemporary sportswear label Miss Me. “The quality is good, the fabrics are soft and it’s really doing very well so far.”

Meanwhile, just across the aisle, the Miss Me booth was jam packed with buyers. They seemed especially attracted to the brand’s soft T-shirts detailed with embroidery, and the denim line, which offered everything from denim jeans to shorts. The Miss Me line wholesales from $20 to $49.

At the EcoSkin booth, chief executive officer Sandy Skinner introduced her Los Angeles-based fashion-forward eco-friendly line for the first time at Intermezzo.

“I really wanted to start this line on the motivation that eco-friendly doesn’t mean it can’t be fashionable,” she said.

She was doing well at the show with her brightly colored dresses in colors like pink, green and blue. There is a bubble dress with pockets, a twist-front dress and sheath dress style with ruching on the sides, a kimono top and tunic. All styles are made with bamboo, Tencel and spandex fabrics and produced domestically in California. The line wholesales from $62 to $134.

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