NEW YORK -- Dress and suit firms have high hopes that short lengths will mean a bright summer market this week.
Makers expect buyers to be placing additional orders for spring, looking and buying summer and previewing early fall. While there is optimism in the market, few are counting on big gains, and most firms will be happy with slight increases. The heavy dose of caution that marked most of the past two years still lingers on.
For example, Tom Burns, general merchandise manager at The Doneger Group, said: "I think that based upon the holiday season, people will be cautious going forward into the first quarter. Last year, many people were refinancing and reinvesting in their homes. There were double-digit increases in home furnishings, which took away from women's apparel.
"But I believe consumers will be coming back to shop for clothes, as long as we give them value from the start of the season."
The spring winners -- short dresses and skirts, which range from thigh-high minis to just above the knee -- are expected to give summer a lift as well, manufacturers say. Fitted suit jackets and dresses with waist interest are important elements in the spring-summer design scheme.
"We have tons of appointments for market week, and we're cautiously optimistic about the new year," said Morris Marmalstein, president of The Warren Group. "There's a lot of newness in pantsuits and wedge dresses and two-piece dresses. There are also some promotional groups that are becoming important parts of our business."
Marmalstein noted that although it's a summer market, seasons are backed up and "there's a lot of spring still to be sold." He's planning on being ahead for spring, although no huge gains are anticipated.
Gregg Marks, president of the Kasper division of The Leslie Fay Cos., said that while fall goods saw heavy markdowns in December, early spring goods are selling well at regular price. Marks said soft suits in polyester microfiber and triacetate are performing strongly for spring. "Classic silhouettes are important in colors such as blue, sage, red, royal, and taupe," Marks said. "Overall, we're planning on 25 to 30 percent increases for spring and summer."Sally Krieger, vice president of Augustus Clothiers, said with stores buying closer to the season, a lot of spring buying will be happening in the showroom along with summer and early fall. Krieger expects buyer interest in a summer group of pale blue and indigo suits and separates in softly tailored linens, silk georgettes
"People are becoming more optimistic and things are picking up a bit," Krieger said. "Our bookings for spring are slightly ahead, but because we produce in New York, our customers come to us as late as May looking for spring merchandise."
Jeannene Booher, owner and designer of the bridge-price dress and suit firm bearing her name, said she's doing a separate 25-piece collection for summer, but also expects a lot of spring buying to be done.
"That's been the pattern the last few years," said Booher, who started the firm for this past fall season after designing for Maggy London for many years. "We started slow for fall, but resort has really picked up, and we have significant bookings for spring."
Booher said she went short in many dresses because it looks "younger and snappier," but that there are some long print dresses that are selling as well.
George Furlan, president of Kathyrn Dianos Inc., said, "Things are definitely looking up. In the fall, we got carried away with the ecclesiastic and monastic look. Now there is a clearer look, and business is responding accordingly."
That look, for designer Kathyrn Dianos, means lightweight fabrics, understated detail and short flip dresses with fuller hems.
Marjorie Cohen, vice president of Helen Hsu, said the suit end of the business is leading the way for spring-summer, mostly in short skirts with long fitted jackets. Short coatdresses continue to be hot sellers in the firm's wool and rayon knit mainstay fabric.
Cohen projected an increase of about 15 percent for spring-summer, thanks to a "much more positive attitude" in the stores, although she noted a lot of business will be booked by traveling to out-of-town stores that don't come to New York as much as before.
Steven Stolman, who opened his own firm bearing his name in November, said spring bookings are double what he originally planned, and he's well on his way to his volume projection of $2 million for 1994.He said summer market week means later deliveries on lighter-weight pieces and a chance to preview early fall with some stores.
Mary Ann Casale, divisional merchandise manager of suits and dresses at Certified Fashion Guild, said two-piece dressing like jackets over dresses or rompers with vests should be important, plus short fit-and-flare dresses.
"One problem I see is that a lot of stores are coming in just looking for promos, and that frightens me," Casale said. "Stores have to be careful to keep a balance of merchandise in their stores."
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty