By  on September 19, 2007

NEW YORK — The Train has found a niche as a trade show for interesting pieces from European designers, but its sidekick, Platform 2, is still finding its track in its third season out.

The two shows shared the Terminal Stores on 11th Avenue from Sunday through Tuesday, but offered different experiences as the more established show is still driving attendance.

Jean-Pierre Mocho, president of Prêt à Porter Paris, the French parent show that organizes Train and Platform 2, said buyer traffic was down 10 percent this year, with traffic strong the first day, mixed the second day and quiet the final day when Coterie started. "The key here is that buyers come to place orders, and most of our exhibitors had very good business," Mocho said.

At Train, there were 101 vendors showing, and next door at Platform 2, there were 53, though vendors there reported slower business.

"We are improving Platform 2, but it's still not perfect," Mocho said.

Paris-based Nathalie Chaize, whose average price point is $120, participated in Platform 2 for the second time, and export manager Valerio Nappi reported a disappointing experience with buyers. "People from the other show are coming in, but those buyers may not necessarily buy this type of product: Train is a more artistic, conceptual show, and Platform 2 is more contemporary and commercial," Nappi said.

Barcelona-based Jordi Labanda showed at Platform 2 for the second time. Buying was light, but the company said it was doing well with its illustrated graphic T-shirts, which wholesale from $60 to $80. "There's not that much traffic, but people are looking for new European collections," said sales rep Ana Yunes.

That desire for interesting pieces from exclusive European lines is what attracts buyers to Train. Arline Sybil owns a showroom in Newton, Mass., that is open 12 weeks a year and has an invite-only client list of 500 women. She came to Train, with slightly higher open-to-buys, scouting for new designers. "I think this is the best show," Sybil said. "The Train has a lot of European influence and interesting pieces with edgy-contemporary style."Jewel Town, a clothing store in Boca Raton, Fla., had higher open-to-buys going into spring, and its co-owners were writing at Train. Juli Davidson and Tamara Brandt said they "came to look for new designers," "one-of-a-kind brands" and "unique pieces."

Wendy Easterday, vice president of retail for Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Bacara Resort and Spa, came to Train for the first time to "hunt for things that not everyone has." She noticed prints, sequins and embellishment were big for spring, like the kimono print dresses she ordered at the show.

Romanian designer Maria Lucia Hohan was pleased with her first New York show. "All of the Europeans showing here are very happy with this show," Hohan said. "It's very crowded with buyers. Forty percent are ordering, and the rest are just wondering."

Berlin-based Anett Röstel did well with its dramatically wide-leg pants in black and white linen, which wholesale around $200. Although the company received strong orders from existing customers, it sensed resistance from some new buyers. "I would expect a little more exploration from retailers," Röstel said. "But people here seem afraid of prices."

Vancouver-based Jason Matlo, whose line of special occasion dresses wholesale from $260 to $1,000, enjoyed plentiful writing during his inaugural show at Train.

Romania-based Concept Station showed for the first time at Train, as an extension of showing at Prêt à Porter Paris. 'We were surprised — in a good way — with the traffic, relative to Paris," said Ovidiu Buta, who was working with Concept Station. "There's been more writing than watching."

Concept Station, which wholesales from $30 to upwards of $100, did well with its spring separates in black, gray and dusty pastels. "Buyers wanted things that are easy to match, as opposed to Paris, where the buying is more coordinated," Buta said.

TRADE SHOW TRENDS:
- Dresses
- Jackets
- High-waisted pants and skirts
- Asymmetrical pieces
- Sequins
- Neckline embellishment
- Prints
- Satin
- Gold
- Gray, black and white

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