By and  on June 1, 1994

NEW YORK -- Two new hotel trade shows last week pulled steady streams of buyers, many of them armed with increased open-to-buys reflecting a more optimistic mood about retail in general and about contemporary collections in particular.

Hotlines took up six floors of Le Parker Meridien and featured about 300 collections from about 70 exhibitors.

StyleWorks, held over three floors at the Drake Hotel, had about 85 exhibitors with 230 lines. Both ran for three days through May 28.

Retailers making the rounds were searching for immediate items to spice up summer inventory, placing some orders for fall, and in some cases, previewing holiday.

Stores saw the shows as an opportunity to view resources they might not ordinarily see in their areas.

At Hotlines, Max Martinez, who owns two Max stores in Colorado -- one in Denver, the other in Boulder -- was placing an order with Felicia, Grace & Co., a New York sales firm that represents Jenne Maag, Margaret O'Leary, Marina Avraam, Cinzia, Marcos Ergas and Kara George.

"This is great," said Martinez, who said his open-to-buy is up about 30 percent for fall, with most of that for his Boulder store. "I'm filling in with immediates to bring in fresh things for the summer. Right now, for instance, I need to find some dresses with sleeves because everything is so bare. I'm also placing fall orders."

Ruthie Zeide, owner of Ruthie'z in Armonk, N.Y., was looking at Jamie Kreitman sweaters in Simply Chic's crowded suite, where other buyers perused the collections of C.C. Outlaw, Juicy, Wendy McCauley, Blind Faith, Tutto Sera and Tutto Pelle.

"I'm looking mostly for fall," she said. "I'm doing chenilles, velvets, sheer tops, cropped vests and white shirts." Zeide noted she was buying fall a little later than usual, because she was unsure about general conditions.

Linda Wolff, owner of Joe's, a specialty store in Manhattan, said she was looking for both fall and immediates.

"I'm thinking of doing a lot of long, slit, leggy skirts for fall. Everyone says short, but my customer still loves long. It's so sophisticated," Wolff said.

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