NEW YORK — Vendors had a positive outlook on business conditions at a trio of trade shows here this week, although some retailers were exercising restraint in their ordering.
Despite fall and holiday seasons that were complicated by a host of factors, including the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and the presidential election, many were confident enough in the economy and their creativity to launch brands targeted at specialty stores.
“Business has been awesome, customers are returning,” said Debbie Weiss, a sales representative for Stoosh, a wovens line with an emphasis on pants that began shipping in August.
The Los Angeles-based line, which wholesales for $35 to $57 and also has an assortment of skirts and blazers, was showing at the Fashion Avenue Market Expo here.
The show, produced by Business Journals Inc., ran from Sunday through Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and featured 390 exhibitors. This is the first time FAME had a January edition. The show attracted more than 6,500 buyers.
Not everyone at the show was as exuberant as Weiss.
Shanon Hokaj, owner of Earthshine, a store in Edinboro, Pa., said her business was down 40 percent from 2001 and wasn’t necessarily getting better, especially since a Wal-Mart recently moved into town.
“I’m just riding it out,” said Hokaj, who was primarily at the show looking for cash-and-carry accessories.
Hokaj is placing some bets on bright camisole tops with a lingerie feel. “It looks like you’re wearing your underwear, but that’s what’s supposed to be in right now,” she said.
That soft look with feminine detailing such as lace was also a draw for buyers at Moda Manhattan. Moda, which is paired with AccessoriesTheShow, ran concurrently with FAME at the convention center and also is run by Business Journals. Moda had 120 booths and attendance that exceeded 10,000.
“We’re still selling peasant looks and ruffles and anything romantic,” said Robert Graves, national sales manager of Berkeley, Calif.-based Two Star Dog.
The casual sportswear line features a lot of linen and wholesales for $39 to $69. “Any midcalf skirt length seems to be selling well,” Graves added, noting that retailers were choosing where to spend their dollars carefully. “They’re really editing the collections down.”Many vendors at the shows noted stores were taking on an item orientation, wanting a single piece in several different colors.
This was the case for Kathryn Peters, president and owner of Charleston, S.C.-based Kayon Corp. that introduced a line at Moda called S.H.A.G., which stands for “sexy hip and gorgeous.”
Additionally, Kayon produces Whitewash, which was also at Moda, and Putumyo, which showed at FAME. Overall, Peters said there was “a focus on going back to that hippie-chic look.”
The S.H.A.G. collection features young, trendy styles embellished with hand beading, sequins and tattered, distressed fabrics. Knits wholesale for $19 to $29, while dresses range from $44 to $88.
The Samuel Dong line also was doing well with some of its embellished looks, especially a contemporary off-the-shoulder sweater with rhinestones, said Rosana Quiroz, sales manager.
“Some retailers are still cautious when they buy,” said Edward Kwang, J. Song International Inc.’s controller. “They are buying, but they look for something really good.”
At J. Song, buyers were snatching up long white dresses with sequins.
“Nowadays, they want something unique that is at the same time elegant,” Kwang said.
Many retailers use their seasonal trips to trade shows to hunt out new designers or to add a little bit of spice to their assortments. Susan Booi, who owns five stores in Aruba under the Anouk name, was at Moda looking for resort looks and accessories.
“I’ve seen companies I don’t know, so it’s broadening my outlook,” she said.
Susan Hiett, owner of Trés Chic in Germantown, Tenn., was at Moda hunting out form-fitting looks for “the woman who works out.” Trés Chic opened in September and in its first month, raked in $70,000 in sales in its 1,300-square-foot shop.
“Germantown is a tiny little city with an awful lot of money,” Hiett said.
Buyers and sellers at D&A Annex at the Starrett Lehigh Center said they came off a solid holiday season and were heading into 2005 with momentum.The show, which featured 40 booths and about 1,500 attendees, is produced by Designers & Agents and also ended its three-day run on Tuesday. D&A specializes in young, funky lines and caters to that crowd with a laid-back vibe, including a DJ.
Jen Ripley, owner of Luxe in Atlanta, which has a lot of trunk shows, said she likes dealing with smaller, hip companies because they’re often more flexible.
“We’re doing more of the bohemian-type thing, lots of ballet flats,” said Ripley. “Rachel Roy might be on my hit list this season.”
Sara Brenner, senior merchandiser at Rachel Roy, said the line features vintage-inspired looks embellished with beading, crystals and embroidery. The line launched for spring in 40 doors and wholesales for $45 to $195.
“For this type of price point, there is still space for new designers to come on board, especially if they have a strong point of view,” Brenner said. “We wanted to make the collection obtainable. You can go and buy a whole outfit.”
Also shopping the show were Christina Cerwin and Eliza Jenkins, co-owners of Fleur in Chapel Hill, N.C. The pair was looking for bright and bold colors, continuing the strong trend from last year, and metallics such as gold, as well as tunics.
The store, up and running for about 18 months, has enjoyed a strong start.
“This fall was amazing; holiday sales were great,” Jenkins said.
Sara Rachlin, sales person for The Aubrey Co., which had three lines at D&A, said the show had been busy.
“It’s unlike most January [editions] where everybody’s on sale and sitting on things,” she said, referring to retailers’ promotional stance and inventory position. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed because everything is perfect.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews