By  on February 3, 2009

As a collection of women’s resources moveS from Project to WWDMAGIC’s new segment called Premium, many vendors look to entice retailers’ sense of value, fine-tuning merchandise and trimming prices while maintaining a certain eye appeal and quality.

Ravi Bhushan, marketing manager of Chaudry, said tinkering with the fabrication of his Los Angeles-based line’s sweaters proved to be a savvy business decision. More than one year ago, the line’s designer and chief executive officer, Krishan Chaudry, looked at ways to craft an expensive-looking sweater that would retail for under $100. The result was a collection of knits fusing thin and thick yarns of rayon, cotton and mohair, wholesaling for $44 to $69.

“Many of the sweaters have a boho feel,” Bhushan said, noting the lower-priced sweaters have helped the line to have one of its better years in terms of opening new accounts, despite the difficult economy. Styles include a wrap stolelike sweater, a trapeze top, various pieces possessing a crocheted look and a short knit dress with a printed neckline and pockets that can be easily paired with tights or skinny jeans.

Bhushan plans to show all those early fall looks at Premium in shades of purple, green, beige, brown, black and burnt orange. The line also will include some spring and summer pieces for retailers looking to buy closer to season. “It’s really fashionable but doesn’t hurt your pocketbook,” Bhushan said.

Apparently buyers agree, as the company is receiving weekly reorders and counts Macy’s Inc., Dillard’s Inc. and Bloomingdale’s among its accounts.

“You have to check your price point,” Bhushan said. “It’s not that people have stopped buying, but they’re thinking, ‘Where can I get the best price?’”

Michelle Waller, owner and designer of Los Angeles-based Royal Plush, said recently that introducing a lower-priced assortment of workout wear that can coordinate with the line’s sportswear collection has allowed budget-minded customers to mix and match at a variety of price points.

“We’re the upper echelon of the casualwear category,” she said, noting that the line is known for its custom made antique silver Swarovski-crystal embellished zipper pulls, rivets and draw-cord ends. Its regular collection, which she calls a cross between Juicy Couture and Chrome Hearts, includes thermal T-shirts, tanks, shorts, dresses and pants suited for comfort. Wholesale prices range from $24 to $88.

The lower-priced line of more athletic sueded cotton and spandex pieces wholesales for $20 for basic pants to $48 for a wrap jacket.

“That’s really helped us,” Waller said. “Overall we can’t complain.”

At Premium, Waller plans to show small quantities of spring and summer merchandise while debuting its fall collection, which features stretch lace lining jacket hoods and trimming pockets. And some pieces such as tanks and V-neck tops are entirely stretch lace.

“We’re bringing the whole lacy feeling into the sportswear market,” she said, noting that the cotton spandex pieces will be in military green, a washed-out burgundy, deep chocolate, heather gray, black and white. “We are also bringing in more figure-fitting pieces. Everyone is done with the baby doll.”

Sara Naghedi, owner Los Angeles-based Deux Lux, said her line of handbags and accessories is surviving because of its affordable prices.

“With the economy [business] did slow a bit, but nothing too drastic because of our price point,” she said. In fact, more people are attracted to the line because most pieces retail under $100.

At Premium, Deux Lux plans to show accessories with floral and tie-dyed patent fabrics, as well as a coated glitter material in pastels, including its best selling wallet with a crystal stone which comes in 35 colors and wholesales for $12.

Small goods such as coin purses, wallets and cosmetic cases wholesale for $5 to $28 while handbags and other larger items wholesale up to $72 for its overnight bag in scalloped patent.

Naghedi hopes showing at Premium will lead to more international accounts.

“We have a lot of Japanese customers coming,” she said, noting that 20 percent of her business is abroad.

Carmine Petruzello, president of Buffalo Jeans USA, said he will definitely keep an eye on buyer attendance at Premium. “We do know that many retailers are cutting expenses and shows such as MAGIC will not be immune,” he said. “We will evaluate our participation based on the show’s ability to attract our retailer segment.”

Buffalo plans to show denim driven by dark fabrics in gray, black and blue with subtle after-wash treatments and resin coatings. Those facets are particularly present in the line’s “Buffalo Black” premium denim category, which wholesales for $75 to $100. Buffalo also plans to present a couple versions of the jean jacket updated with new washes, finishes and coatings.

“I am especially bullish on our fashion denim and outerwear assortments,” Petruzello said, admitting that Buffalo has been affected by the economic slowdown. “I am satisfied with our performance as compared to our major competitors,” he said. “We are well-positioned going forward.”

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