By  on August 17, 2009

Some women’s sportswear vendors are counting on convertible clothing and bold colors to entice shoppers.

Linda Lundstrom, creative director for Eleventh Floor Apparel Ltd., which purchased Linda Lundstrom Inc. last year, said her line plans to present 25 convertible styles including tops that can be worn back to front as either a bateau- or V-neck style, and skirts that can be worn as dresses or shawls. In addition, the Toronto-based line plans to show three-quarter-length reversible trenchcoats, with one style showing a small black ginghamlike print on one side and solid black on the other.

“I think [shoppers] can justify that,” Lundstrom said. “They can buy a skirt that they can pull up and wear as a dress. It’s doing double duty. In this economy, I’m working harder, and the clothes are working harder, too.”

The line makes its WWDMAGIC debut, wholesaling for $50 to $350.

Lundstrom predicts strong sellers will be those that incorporate bold colors, such as persimmon red and cobalt blue, along with those boasting prints like a golden yellow jungle motif paired with neutrals. Some dresses in particular make a strong statement in ombré silk, featuring two colors on the front and another two colors on the back.

The line also features another more primal or primitive print incorporating a version of an ancient language and pictographs that translate into “warrior woman.” Whether buyers will pick up on the theme remains to be seen, but Lundstrom believes it may unknowingly draw them. “There may be something about it that compels them to walk in,” she said. “It speaks a universal language.”

Overall, shoppers now are looking to purchase special or striking pieces that will work with their current wardrobes, Lundstrom added.

Versatile fashions such as reversible dresses and skirts from Eva Varro likely will be among the line’s stronger sellers, said Lynn Girard, who owns a showroom at the California Market Center.

Varro also will include a higher-end collection of silk jersey pieces in bright pink, aqua, lime green and shades of purple. “When the economy’s bad, people want what’s not hanging in their closet, and they want happy colors that make them feel good,” Girard said. Wholesale prices range from $32 for a tank to $78 for a dress, with silk styles priced higher.

Girard also will present Fabrizio Gianni’s collection of jersey tops and pants, each in 20 colors, with tops in coral, mint green, grass green and cobalt. The line’s best-selling jeans, at $75 wholesale, will hang alongside its stretch poplin cargo pants, which proved to be a sleeper hit last year.

This year, the line is introducing three lengths of the cargo look — full, Bermuda and capri — in a variety of colors, wholesaling from $65 to $75. In all, pieces wholesale for $35 for a sleeveless top to $80 for novelty trousers.

Now, in particular, “it’s more about the value than the trend,” said Jim Carpenter, sales manager for Scully Sportswear in Oxnard, Calif. “Price-sensitive merchandise has a place in this market where it didn’t two years ago.”

Leather jackets account for 50 percent of the line, which also offers blouses and skirts, at $75 to $160 wholesale.

Like Lundstrom, Julie Jordan Browne, director of sales for Nic + Zoe, also plans to incorporate ombré looks and show strong hues grounded by neutral bottoms. In particular, the New York-based line will introduce groups showcasing indigos and warm sand, graphic black and whites with yellow lime and peony or with neutral greens paired with turquoise.

Known for its sweaters, Nic + Zoe also will offer its version of the boyfriend cardigan with mixed yarns, space dyes and different textures from pointelle to patchwork. It also will utilize ombré, tie-dye and dip-dye treatments with its sweaters and woven pieces.

Browne also predicts customers will respond well to the trend of incorporating necklaces into sweaters, with styles featuring knit balls that resemble a necklace, eliminating the need for jewelry.

With wholesale prices ranging from $19.50 for basic tanks to $79 for woven jackets and embellished skirts, Nic + Zoe also will feature denim skirts with different silhouettes, pin-striped and seersucker cotton blend long and cropped pants and lightweight knit skirts in lengths ranging from the longer patio skirt to a flirt skirt that hits just below the knee.

Dimitri Komarov, owner and president of Dimitri, Los Angeles, will continue to focus on dresses and skirts for his cruise line. It will include pleated dresses, tunics, chiffon blouses and resort cover-ups along with traditional mother-of-the-bride gowns in greens, purples and yellows.

“Skirts and dresses will continue to be key,” he said, noting that his business has been 75 percent dress driven for the past few years. Wholesale prices range from $65 for a cap-sleeve buttoned blouse to $90 for a beaded tunic dress to $140 for a double-layer full-length gown. Komarov, who counts Nordstrom among his major accounts, said he also will show holiday pieces in burnout velvets in rich hues of deep purple and emerald as well as black and charcoal for those doing last-minute shopping. “Everyone’s buying things down to the wire,” he said. The line also features items made with its version of pashmina in washed-out prints. Tunics wholesale for $80 and dresses go for $129.

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