NEW YORK -- Vests and dresses continue to generate solid action in the junior market, according to a spot check of retailers and manufacturers around the country, while short skirts and clingy knits are also producing good results.

"Overall, vests with embroidery as a category have been selling very well," said a spokeswoman for Macy's East.

Bestsellers, she said, include two embellished vest styles from At Last, retailing for $28 each. Knits, especially a short-sleeved Henley top for $12, have been good for spring and she expects that trend to continue into fall.

Short skirts from Necessary Objects "at all different price points," she said, have been strong, as have baby doll rayon prints at $28 from resources such as Rampage.

Bob Acampora, executive vice president of Jou Jou, a junior resource that owns eight Topaz stores in the New York area, agreed that embellished vests are a hot trend.

"We sold 15 percent of inventory on a Jou Jou rag knit vest with linen backing at $46 in one week," he said. Other hot styles from the vendor include an applique vest with beading at $34 and a knit mesh vest at $30, with a 23 percent sell-through. Short skirts have just hit the floor, Acampora noted, but he thinks they will be a strong category.

At Necessary Objects, a manufacturer here, bestsellers have been from a group of sport-inspired cotton blend knits with striping, said Ady Gluck-Frankel, president of the firm. Short skirts, novelty knits and slip dresses have also been hot.

Jean Ward, design director at Ultra Pink, a junior manufacturer here, said, the bestseller is a smocked printed rayon faille dress, either as a baby doll or in a longer style. Right behind that is a mini-kilt that Ward said has been on the line for "about eight years."

"We went into market week with all this new stuff on the line and all the stores wanted was the mini-kilt," she said.

According to Midwest retailers, short skirts are in hot demand in juniors.

"Short skirts are selling like crazy -- solid sarongs and flip skirts with little ditzy prints," said Sue Gantz, owner of Melrose, a contemporary women's store in Chicago. She said she had sold 50 to 60 skirts from Urban Outfitters and NC17, retailing from $38 to $88, in the last six weeks.Other hot items are long tank and slip dresses by Dressed to Kill and Zoe, from $68 to $128, about 200 of which sold in the last eight weeks, Gantz said.

"They look very summery but we sell them all year-round for layering," she noted. Vests by Urban Outfitters and NC17 were also doing well, she said.

Short, flippy rayon skirts at $20 to $25 are strong at Milwaukee-based department store chain Carson Pirie Scott, said Tony Buccina, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, ready-to-wear.

Other strong items he cited are three-quarter-length cotton jersey T-shirts in pastel colors at $10 to $15, thermal tops at $12 to $15, French terry sweatshirts by Guess at $30 to $58 and denim shirts, especially baseball shirts, at $20 to $25.

At Marshall Field's flagship in Chicago, flippy or straight short skirts at $24 and baby doll dresses at $38 to $40 are selling strongly, a spokeswoman said. The store is also doing well with casual vests or men's wear-look pinstripe vests at $20 to $22, body suits and stirrup pants, each at $12.99.

"Anything in natural color is selling well," noted the spokeswoman.

In California, manufacturers reporting on their spring deliveries said that texture, clingy knits and shorts are getting big orders.

At Francine Browner, a floral acetate rayon vest at $14 wholesale with matching shorts wholesaling at $18 sold over 100,000 sets to some major stores.

All That Jazz said its distressed rayon pantsuit at $36.75 sold 35,000 units. Its striped scoopneck fitted dress at $19.75 wholesale sold 20,000 units.

At XOXO, vests with coordinating short skirts are key. Strong sellers include a lace-up back vest in linen brocade at $22 wholesale with coordinating linen brocade 17-inch skirt at $12 and a blue patchwork rayon challis vest at $20 with matching 17-inch skirt at $12.

On the retail front, Shawn Kesselring, buyer for related separates at Bon Marche, Seattle, said, "Patchwork, anything in the color white, denim overalls and shortalls, long dresses and flippy skirts are doing really well."

Among active sellers, a La Belle patchwork vest at $28 retail and matching broomstick skirt at $44 have posted a 15 percent weekly sell-through, while a belted Lycra spandex blend jersey flippy skirt by Yes at $28 retail is garnering an 18 percent weekly sell-through.

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