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The Trickle-Down Effect

NEW YORK — For Seventh Avenue suit and dress vendors, New York Fashion Week falls at just the right time.<br><br>That is, just enough time to shorten a skirt or trim a jacket, depending on what’s hot on the runways. For fall,...

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NEW YORK — For Seventh Avenue suit and dress vendors, New York Fashion Week falls at just the right time.

That is, just enough time to shorten a skirt or trim a jacket, depending on what’s hot on the runways. For fall, moderate-to-better ready-to-wear vendors are translating several key trends for their customers, including: shorter skirts, vibrant colors and tailored daytime dresses and evening suits.

Kasper vice president of design Eric Kristjanson said there was a feeling of commercialism throughout fashion week, which meant less buzz for editorial purposes but more success for retailers who sell the collections. He said the average consumer will understand these clothes from a photograph, which is not always the case.

Kristjanson also said he thinks the return to clean, lady-like dressing is a result of the current economic conservatism in the U.S. and cited Carolina Herrera’s elegantly tailored collection as easy to translate for the Kasper customer.

While several rtw designers applauded the bright and bold colors used by Marc Jacobs, they questioned how easy the Sixties-esque shapes, such as a minidress, would translate to a wider audience.

“How many people can wear a minidress besides a truly updated customer?” asked Kristjanson. “It’s not about going back to the Sixties, but the days when Vogue showed clothes that are tailored and beautiful. I think women want to wear great fabrics, elegant colors and smooth silhouettes.”

For Kasper’s fall collection, an understated feeling of luxury will be purveyed through tailored looks, luxurious fabrics and the idea of looking good without being flashy.

Citrine designer Sully Bonnelly said dresses were back in a big way last week. Influences for day were mostly from the Sixties, with color blocking and shorter styles. For evening, soft dresses referenced the Thirties and Forties, a trend continued from spring, Bonnelly noted.

While the bulk of Citrine’s fall collection is finished — it opens around March 10 — Bonnelly said he will incorporate some of the season’s strongest trends for his customer. That means colors such as blue and red, like Oscar de la Renta’s coral evening gown, which Bonnelly cited as one of his favorite looks of the week. Marc Jacobs also showed great color, such as bright orange and turquoise, but it doesn’t translate well for the Citrine customer, so traditional shades such as brown and beige will be used instead.

“We’ll be doing a lot of details on the clothes. Everything has a lace edge or trim of some kind,” said Bonnelly. “There is a lot of pleating, especially with skirts and patchwork, but done in a graphic way rather than a peasant look.”

Mixing fabrics like velvet and silk was another technique seen throughout the week. Bonnelly said the style makes the clothes more interesting if there is a playful contrast between the two types of fabrics.

Wholesale prices for Citrine’s 100-piece fall collection range from $69 for a matte jersey dress or top to a more elaborate dress for $99.

George Simonton, a division of $50 million Lotus Pacific Fashion Inc. with annual volume nearing $7 million, will finish his collection by March 1. Simonton said buyers were still undecided about what they wanted when he previewed half of his 40-piece collection in the Dallas and Atlanta markets, but it served as a good indicator of where they were heading trend-wise.

The designer collections serve a similar purpose for putting the final touches on his line, Simonton added.

“I love the fact that everyone is doing tailored jackets because it’s one of my specialties,” said Simonton. “I also saw a lot of coats…lots of near-full-length coats with fur trims. These will filter down to the bridge areas.”

For fall, Simonton is adding a new division of suits called Michael DeGray by George Simonton. Named after Simonton’s grandfather, it features longer skirts and embellishments geared at retailers who cater to African-American women that wear suits to church rather than sportswear or dresses. The line wholesales from $179 to $225 and is expected to add about $1 million in revenue to the company.

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