By  on February 24, 2010

Fashion at a price was the mantra at ENK Vegas at the Bellagio hotel.

Those among the more than 150 contemporary men’s and women’s brands that offered top trends for less than $150 at retail seemed to have their fingers on the pulse.

As Sandy Wirkler, a buyer for specialty store Midland Clothing Co. in Basalt, Colo., said, “We still want quality, but we don’t want to pay as much.”

The $150 price threshold worked for Evil Twin, the Australian young contemporary label that is launching in the U.S. this fall with burnout velvet minidresses, peplum miniskirts and other items wholesaling from $22 to $80.

Price constraints aside, designers tried to translate trends such as cutouts, stripes and neutral palettes in eye-catching ways. Society for Rational Dress created weblike knit dresses and sweaters wholesaling for $136 and $149, respectively. Three Dots slit vents in armholes on $46 striped blousons. Sjobeck made gray stand out by mixing cashmere sleeves on a $158 cotton-rayon cardigan.

As seasonless dressing prevailed, chambray gained importance as a lightweight alternative to traditional denim. Citizens of Humanity cut dark chambray into a range of looks, including oversize military jackets as well as trousers with peg legs, wholesaling from $62 to $132.

In premium denim, jean leggings were in high demand from retailers ranging from Los Angeles-based Hillary Rush to National Jean Co. in Newton, Mass.

“It’s the Spanx of jeans,” said Rush, who was reordering $79 denim leggings with zippered ankles from J Brand. “It’s a basic now. You can’t buy a regular jean.”

That’s not to say designers embraced the status quo for jean leggings. J Brand distressed and repaired a $124 style in faded black. Hudson Jeans stitched a column of buttons on the back of $110 gray leggings. Paige Premium Denim quadrupled the number of fall legging styles to 40, including a $59 pull-on version with a double-banded elastic waist and knee seams.

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