NEW YORK — Amid snowstorms and frigid temperatures, the thawing economy was front and center at the latest round of apparel trade shows in Manhattan. Buyers seemed buoyed by a solid holiday season, seeking out fresh trends for spring and summer to entice their customers’ revived interest in fashion. There is still concern about high raw material prices and the slowness of the recovery from the recession, but the turnout and order writing was as robust as it’s been in some time.

INTERMEZZO
Despite an impending snowstorm, buyers shopping Intermezzo Collections last month had warm summer days on their minds.

Retailers said they were pleased with the way 2010 turned out, as well as the state of current business. Most said they weren’t that concerned about the rising price of cotton and had found lines that were well priced at the show. Booths such as Splendid, Minnie Rose, Hard Tail, J Brand, Waverly Grey, Milly and Ella Moss were bustling with activity at the ENK International-produced event, which ended its three-day run Jan. 11 at the Show Piers.

Susan Greenstadt, owner of Susan Greenstadt & Associates, a rep firm for Bibelot and Velvet Heart, summed up the feeling at the show: “It’s tough to get people kick-started in January, but they are writing. I do feel a renewed optimism. All my stores are in better moods. They have a good outlook for 2011.”

Most retailers said they were shopping for fill-ins for spring and summer merchandise.

Key Trends:
• Long, flowing skirts and dresses.

• Cute tops to wear out at night.

• Easy, bohemian styles.

• Contemporary knitwear, including wraps and ponchos.

• Long walking shorts for summer.

Exhibitor Highlights:
• Gypsy 05’s contemporary collection of tops and long dresses. Lori Goldstein, owner of Great Stuff, which has specialty stores in Greenwich and Westport, Conn., and Chappaqua, Rye and Scarsdale, N.Y., said of the line: “It was soft, easy, a little bit edgy and hippie to make it interesting.”

• “Great” tops and fake shearling vests at Robbi & Nikki, a Los Angeles resource designed by Robert Rodriguez, were on the shopping list for Allyson Bass, owner of Frances Heffernan, a high-end women’s specialty store based in Winnetka, Ill., who was combing the show with her buyer, Jamie Pawlow, for items for its younger-skewing contemporary store called Frannie. She also liked the day dresses at Ali Ro and looks from contemporary label Waverly Grey. “We do well with them. It looks beautiful, and we’re bringing it in [for the first time] for spring,” said Pawlow.

• Avenue Montaigne pants. “They’re a no-brainer,” said Bass. “They fit. We mix their pants with high-end sweaters such as Bruno Cucinelli.”

• California contemporary resources Velvet and Graham & Spencer, as well as Alice + Olivia and Billy Blues pants were high on retailer Pam Katz’s list. The owner of First Impressions, a specialty store based in Lafayette Hill, Pa., said she was searching for “fabulous, great tops,” and those that are batik-y, gauzy and colorful. She was also on the hunt for long shorts, flowing, easy skirts and wide pants.

— LISA LOCKWOOD

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