By  on February 23, 1994

NEW YORK -- Barneys New York. Big Drop. Bloomingdale's. Patricia Field. These New York stores don't have much in common, but according to designers of trendy, cutting-edge merchandise, they're among the best of the fast fashion retail set nationwide.

The list of retailers who do a great job creating, jumping on, merchandising and selling fast fashion breaks down into three types:

The trend creators: Those little places -- Patricia Field and other New York stores, such as Union, X-Large, 555 Soul and TG-170 -- often tucked away in on-the-edge neighborhoods and frequented by the urban youths who are mostly responsible for creating the Next Hot Look. Oftentimes the owners of these stores insure they have the newest looks first by creating their own lines -- which they might make available for wholesale -- or by backing young designers in exchange for exclusive merchandise.

For example, Patricia Field does House of Field, Union is launching its own women's T-shirt line, Big Drop provides some funding to young designers in exchange for exclusivity, 555 Soul makes the Strictly for Ladies line and TG-170 showcases the work of up-and-coming designers from its Lower East Side neighborhood.

The trend supporters: The well-known, upscale specialty stores like Barneys -- in its CO/OP department -- and Fred Segal on Melrose in Los Angeles, considered supporters of the Next Hot Look. However, their resources often hop on trends rather than create them.

The trend followers: These are the huge department stores that can sometimes move quickly to bring in a trend as soon as they hear about it, but usually come in on the news several months after the trend creators have introduced it. The store that received the most points from vendors was, hands down, Patricia Field, located in Greenwich Village and an arbiter of downtown New York style for 27 years.

"Undoubtedly, the fastest hand is Pat Field's," said New York designer Amanda Uprichard, who does the Living Doll line. "It's a street thing there -- Seventh Avenue couldn't have predicted the stripe trend and that came from the streets. At Pat Field, it's the combined energies of the people who work there that keeps it on the edge."

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