By  on August 27, 2014

LAS VEGAS — Looking for a trend? Pick one.

That seemed to be the attitude of brands at the fashion exhibitions here last week as companies churned out almost every trend in the book. Unlike past seasons, buyers didn’t complain about a lack of newness or marketable trends at WWDMAGIC, Project, Pool, AccessoriesTheShow, Stitch, Liberty, CurveNV, Capsule and the various other women’s trade shows that took place. Instead, companies inundated them with a multiplicity of choices and launches.

“It feels like there is more happening,” said Laura Nunes, product manager at Fullerton, Calif.-based Ruche Inc., owner of women’s fashion sites Ruche and ThreadSence. “There are a lot of different things out there. Nothing is really getting left behind. You are not so over this trend or that trend. Everyone seems to be doing everything.”

For example, throwback and futuristic trends are catching on simultaneously.

On the one hand, Seventies era-inspired styles are poised to surge in spring. Cori French, women’s buyer at Cerritos, Calif.-based e-commerce site Revolve Clothing, said, “Seventies is going to be a huge trend with wide-rim hats and flairs and flowy lace tops. There is a lot of vintage denim and lace-up sandals. There are flowy, very feminine looks.” Jenny Housley of Carol’s Boutique in Jasper, Ala., bought into Free People’s boho crochet and lace looks. “I’m seeing lots of new styles this season when some other times, there’s not a lot out there. Whatever we love, we buy; it doesn’t matter what brand,” she said, noting her wholesale sweet spots were $39, $49 and $59.

On the other hand, a sporty sensibility is also taking hold. “You saw netting details, mesh inserts, boxier tops and more structured dresses,” said Nunes. Jon Cotay, cofounder of Akira, a Chicago-based retailer with 18 stores, said, “We are doing a lot of Neoprene, especially in pink or pistachio green. We brought it into jackets, skirts and sweatshirts.”

Activewear isn’t going anywhere. In WWDMAGIC’s North Hall, 35 yoga brands including first-timers Beyond Yoga, Marika and Lorna Jane had their own section adjacent to Contemporary exhibitors such as Democracy and Karen Kane. In addition to brightly colored capris and cross-back crop tops, there were performance pieces inspired by the runways and meant to crossover outside of the gym.

The casual attitude of activewear continues to spread across the apparel universe, particularly in bottoms. Joanna Powers, general merchandise manager for feminine apparel at Davenport, Iowa-based department store chain Von Maur said, “The jogger-style pant has finally checked for us. So we are chasing that. We definitely started seeing that earlier [in the market] than when our customer responded to it. She is liking soft pants, but it has been more the palazzo style. She has finally switched over to the jogger style now.”

Premium denim makers showing at Project and ENK Vegas, ranging from Diesel to Hudson Jeans, are adopting the jogger pant as a core silhouette along with skinny styles and boot cuts. At Liberty Fairs, Los Angeles-based The Furies transformed cropped cotton-spandex sweatpants into trousers with belt loops.

At WWDMAGIC, Los Angeles’ Skate Group did well with its skater dresses in multiple prints and colors that wholesale for between $8.50 and $10.50 each. J.O.A. feminized white gym shorts wholesaling for $24 with floral lace and a black-and-white-striped elastic waistband. BCBGeneration fashioned scuba-style mesh into lime-yellow high-waist shorts.

BB Dakota, the young contemporary label from Costa Mesa, Calif., is introducing a dozen activewear pieces — ranging from black-and-white cheetah-print knit sweatpants to a black sport bra that could double as an edgy cropped top with its crisscross back and cutaway hem — as part of a capsule collection wholesaling from $24 to $38.

“We felt there was something missing in the styling of our clothes,” said Katharine Brandes, BB Dakota’s creative director. “We’re taking activewear and elevating it into a cool, wearable, street-fashion piece.”

For fashion industry observers who might think the rise in soft pants means death for denim, buyers begged to differ. “Denim is still a huge category for us,” said French. “We are seeing a lot more distressing and flares that we haven’t seen in the past and also high-waisted is back.” Powers said, “We were cautious about denim for fall, but actually the denim that has hit we have been selling well.”

Other trends for spring included black and white color combos; bright gypsy-inspired ethnic prints on tunics, jumpsuits and tank dresses; boxy silhouettes; cropped tops, and jeans with higher rises — for instance, 10 inches or higher — to pair with midriff-baring shirts. Blue was a popular color, often seen in the Japanese “shibori” dyeing technique. To divert attention from superstretchy leggings and give a jolt to sales, jean designers integrated rigid denim into their fabric options and widened leg openings.

Regardless of the trend, retailers are responding quicker than ever. At Von Maur, Powers said, “We are making sure we are giving her [the shopper] what she wants when she wants it.” She suggested retailers have to react speedily partly because social media propels trends faster from the coasts to the Midwest, and between apparel categories, notably from juniors to missy. The customer “knows what the trends are exactly at the same time as we do,” said Powers.

With so many trends occurring concurrently, the fortunate thing from buyers’ perspectives is that shoppers seem willing to experiment. “They are so open,” said Cotay. “It is about style. They won’t even remember half the time the name of the brand they are buying. A lot of times they come in now and say, ‘I’m looking for something to wear, not a specific brand.’ Before, there was a lot more brand research. That’s a relief on our part because our buyers are picking what they think looks good on our customer.”

Here, a look at the Vegas trade shows:


PROJECT

Mood: Even though Project and the Tents @ Project are devoted to men’s wear, a few prominent dual-gender brands chose to promote their women’s businesses as well. Italy’s Costume National heralded the spring launch of its contemporary label, Costume and Costume, in the U.S. with sleek tailoring contrasted by mesh, reflective material and perforation. As jean designers added Ts, jackets, leather, twill and even Neoprene into their spring collections, they further blurred the line between the denim and sportswear categories. Los Angeles-based J Brand brought all its new looks for men and women to Las Vegas. It also tweaked its prices to remain competitive without compromising quality. For instance, T-shirts now sell for between $68 and $108 instead of $150, and a leather and Neoprene biker jacket that would have retailed for $1,195 in the past is now priced at $958. “We did a major overhaul for spring,” said J Brand president Lynne Koplin. “It’s important for us to show that the men’s and women’s aesthetic is consistent.”

Key Trends: Ath-leisure gained momentum, as seen in 11 styles of jogging-inspired jeans for women at Diesel and as many as eight at Alternative Apparel. Denim designers veered away from the superstretchy leggings that have flooded the market in past seasons. Making a return in women’s collections, rigid denim enabled the higher waists and wider legs that designers hoped would motivate consumers to freshen their wardrobes. Still relevant, prints popped up as palms on twill jogger pants at Baldwin Denim and shibori tie-dye rings at AG by Adriano Goldschmied.

Show Buzz: The top names in the industry came to scope the scene. Ron Herman dropped by J Brand’s booth, while Andrew Rosen, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Theory and interim ceo at J Brand, took a casual stroll through the Tents in shorts and running shoes.

Best in Show: Costume and Costume gave a twist to a black and white cotton-polyester vest with reversible panels. The Kooples from France made its debut in Las Vegas with a white viscose-elastane tuxedo jacket accentuated with snake-print lapels. Hudson Jeans digitally melded snake and tiger prints on French terry fashioned into urbane jogger pants. Ben Taverniti, Hudson’s creative director, wants to tinker with technical fabric commonly used in activewear. “It’s not just denim anymore,” he saidKhanh T.L. Tran


NEXT: ENK Vegas, Liberty Fairs, Stitch >>

ENK VEGAS

Mood: ENK Vegas unveiled a new Accessories section and the third rendition of its curated corner called Oasis. Accessories are constant top sellers in Vegas, as evidenced by black and white boxy woven satchels from Trina Turk, perforated leather shopping bags from Splendid and laser-cut leather hobos that double as cross-body bags at Ella Moss. The sophomore collection of ENK Exclusives — nine pieces of clothing and accessories codesigned with ENK Vegas vice president Sunni Spencer and offered only at the fair — also drummed up brisk business for participants such as Bella Dahl, which printed palms on a faded Tencera shirt made in the U.S. for $72 at wholesale.

Key Trends: Leather is now considered a de facto material for spring as much as eyelet and washed silk are. AS by DF more than tripled the number of leather styles for the season to 21, including lamb suede halter camisoles and red hand-cut leather skater skirts. La Marque used a laser to etch leather into a floral pattern and then bonded it to mesh for a dress retailing for $720. “It’s hard to sell straightforward leather jackets so we have to do lots of things,” said Simon Sachs, a director at La Marque.

Show Buzz: Designers chose ENK Vegas as the venue for launching new businesses on the West Coast. Cheyann Benedict revealed caftans illustrated with wildlife art by Sage Vaughn for resort.

On the heels of receiving strategic investments from Jimmy Iovine and Peter Morton, L.A.-based Genetic Denim introduced knit tops, including Ts and cropped sweatshirts, that retail from $50 to $120. Also in line with Genetic’s evolving style was founder Ali Fatourechi’s decision to limit skinny jeans to less than 10 percent of the spring lineup.

After being entrusted to manufacture swimwear for other fashion brands, KAS New York designer Kirat Anand added 21 pieces wholesaling from $24 to $44 to his line of festive separates. Underscoring the crossover between swim and sportswear, he incorporated tassels, beaded ruffles, mesh, handbraided macramé and Brazilian-themed digital prints. “Here’s the fun of it: The swim can go back to the nonswim [pieces],” he said.

Best in Show: Gant Rugger translated its style to women’s sportswear with metallic lace blouses with cropped sleeves, floral-print bomber jackets and hopsack wool blazers that skim the waist. Following the launch of the women’s line at its stores this fall, Gant Rugger widened its sales to wholesale accounts for spring.— K.T.L.T.


LIBERTY FAIRS

Mood: For its third edition in Las Vegas, Liberty Fairs sharpened its focus on men’s accessories and clothing. A handful of brands — like G-Star Raw and Imogene + Willie, which deal primarily in denim and an androgynous aesthetic — still brought their women’s collections, and, to their surprise, wrote orders with women’s specialty retailers that shopped the expo.

Key Trends: The Nineties inspired the washes and cuts for several denim labels. For its unisex skinny styles, Nudie Jeans imbued the palette with icy tints. Levi’s Made & Crafted lightened rigid denim to sky blue for a skinny cropped version that offset a square-shaped chambray shirt.

When selling at a predominantly male show, it helps to borrow a few key looks and fabrics from the men’s business. While New York-based 3x1 usually cuts its men’s jeans out of selvage denim, it is just beginning to offer the textile in its women’s line. In its pre-spring lineup, it counts seven nonstretch selvage styles, including boyfriend-fit cutoffs. A year ago, it had none.

Best in Show: To highlight a new direction in denim, Levi’s Vintage Clothing, the heritage-centric sister brand to Levi’s Made & Crafted, turned to the past by reviving its original jeans designed for women in 1934, with raw selvage fabric, a wide leg, nipped waist and $225 retail price tag. As Woolrich John Rich & Bros. prepares to open the first store for its Blue Label in New York’s SoHo neighborhood in September, it’s putting a fashionable spin on its Italian-designed outerwear, like a giraffe-print cotton parka that retails for $385. Four years after launching men’s streetwear brand Standard Issue NYC, designer Hyden Yoo simplified the color scheme to black and white and contained wholesale prices to under $50 for the women’s line hitting stores next spring. While sticking to familiar silhouettes, including tank dresses, bomber jackets and sweatshirts, Yoo differentiated the line with creative details. For example, a cropped sweatshirt wholesaling for $30 combined a sheer panel with polyester treated to resemble cracked reptile skin. “There really aren’t any streetwear brands for women so we wanted to try it out,” he said.  K.T.L.T.


STITCH

Mood: Slow, but steady was how exhibitors described the buyer traffic flow at Stitch, where they aimed to do business mostly with regional specialty store buyers who don’t always get to New York.

Key Trends: Perennial color favorites black and white continued to be dominant, including in dresses priced from $66 to $96 wholesale and covered in amoebic patterns at Israeli brand Gershon Bram and easy-fitting tops at Floridian apparel company Planet, where prices ranged from $99 to $265 wholesale. Vivid hues entered the classic equation with lime joining black and white at the Oak Park, Ill.-based brand Caroline Rose and yellow joining the duo at New York-based Joan Vass. The tie-dye trend found its way to Stitch in an ombré print grouping at Fresh Produce with three shirt varieties, a sundress and a maxidress wholesaling from $17 to $40.

Show Buzz: Stitch had a healthy helping of belly-busting bottoms. Spanx, Yummie Tummie by Heather Thomson, Miraclebody by Miraclesuit and Krazy Larry all featured their versions of tummy-tucking pants, chiefly jeans. Ankle pants priced at $49 wholesale out of rayon and nylon with 28-inch inseams and tummy-control panels were bestsellers at Krazy Larry, while slim boyfriend jeans retailing for $120 were popular at Miraclebody by Miraclesuit.

Best in Show: Ivy & Blu, a division of New York-based Maggy London International developed to offer opening price point contemporary clothes, attracted buyers for midi-length dresses, rompers and jumpsuits. Retail prices for the brand, which has entered Anthropologie, Piperlime and select Nordstrom doors, are primarily $169 to $200. Dresses festooned with bright mosaic prints were brisk sellers at Hatley, a 28-year-old Montreal area children’s apparel brand that extended into women’s two years ago. “Already spring 2015 sales are four times higher than last year for women’s,” said Hatley sales manager Angela Abbott. Hatley’s dresses wholesale for $28 to $49.  Rachel Brown


NEXT: AccessoriesTheShow, Capsule, Agenda >>

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