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A look ahead to the rising trends in six of California’s key apparel categories.
JUNIORS: With so many options these days, it’s no wonder PYTs have a hard time getting dressed in the morning. Enter the latest in convenience fashion: the “twofer,” two items attached together for one price. Cali designer Amy Tan of Amy Tangerine popularized the short-sleeve over long-sleeve T-shirt style a few years back, and the latest combo is a denim mini attached to a pair of leggings, by It Jeans. Sure beats putting a look together the old-fashioned way, as Ashlee Simpson demonstrates here.
SWIM: For a long while, swimwear was about all things Rio; even Cali giants like Roxy were taking a cue from the embellished mix-and-match teeny bikinis of Ipanema. But now, the pendulum appears to be swinging back toward the ladylike, more modest styles of eras past. Lines like Nicolita are taking their cues more from Esther Williams and Rita Hayworth than from Gisele Bundchen. Designer Nicole Sainz said her whimsical suits were inspired by Forties-era Cuba, where her parents grew up, and where Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons tangoed the night away in “Guys and Dolls.” Hollywood has always been a harbinger of things to come, and this spring, actress Gretchen Mol brings retro style back to the big screen (and, no doubt, beyond), starring as “The Notorious Bettie Page.” Here, Mol is shown as Bettie — where else? — on the beach in her pre-pinup days.
DENIM: Denim is softening up. Not with more stonewashing and rock tumble-drying, but in new, touch-me fabrics like fleece and combed cotton. Brands like True Religion and Stitches are cutting their trusty denim silhouettes in knits, showing that there’s always room in the market for clothes that are even more comfortable than jeans, yet less casual than a tracksuit. In fact, True Religion chief executive officer Jeff Lubell thinks his knit “jeans” with matching jackets will replace the ubiquitous comfort outfit someday. “I was getting sick of the Juicy velour suit,” he said.
CONTEMPORARY: Lines in the upmarket category are finding new revenue by tapping into the Mommy and Me set. Everyone from Juicy Couture (sportswear) to L Space (swim) to Hudson (denim) is expanding into kids’ clothes. If you thought mini-me outfits were already maxed out price-wise, get ready for more. For those who aren’t willing to break the bank for baby’s play clothes, there’s always the Cali-born mainstay, Baby Gap.
DESIGNER: No wonder the bar is set high in this category. California has spawned design talents like Bob Mackie, Richard Tyler, Kevan Hall and Louis Verdad. And the ladies — Michelle Mason, Erica Davis and Jenni Kayne — aren’t too shabby, either. The latest designer phenom to hit Hollywood is Thomas Wylde, the label founded and designed by former model and Julien MacDonald muse Paula Thomas. Decidedly more rock ‘n’ roll than red carpet, it’s nonetheless a brand of glamour that’s been embraced by stylemakers from Cher to Charlize Theron. Thomas Wylde’s most recent fan is a girl who knows a thing or two about style herself: Sienna Miller.
SURF: The waters of the California coast rarely get above 70 degrees, and surf bunnies need to keep warm. But a wet suit is no longer just about body heat. The full-length seal suits have been getting girlier, with flashes of color and hip graphics. And the classic short-sleeve rash guard and board short combos have become decidedly more sexy. Still, technical companies like O’Neill are staying true to their core customers by refusing to sacrifice function for fashion, opting for a happy marriage of the two with the introduction of a Surfkini tankini-style top and hip-hugging Thinskin shorts.