This is turning out to be a year full of Sixties cultural reminders, from the performance of “Hair” playing at Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park in New York to the publication of a new memoir by Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s muse.
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As goes culture, so goes fashion. The spring runways were an ode to the Summer of Love era, dancing with fringe, tie-dye and florals with the lilt of some Seventies swing. And, the trend has made its way to the juniors market, which will be on display at WWDMAGIC in August.
“It’s all about the nouveau hippie,” said Roseanne Morrison, fashion director of New York-based The Doneger Group. “Every element of fashion is impacted. You’ll see long crinkled scarves, fringe handbags, beaded jewelry. It’s great.”
Free and flowing maxidresses are the newest staple for spring, crafted in mixed media fabrics, blending cotton, gauze, chiffon and georgette. Prints galore show up in tiered and crinkled broomstick skirts, a category which is showing strength again after the two-year-long love affair with dresses.
“We’re having tremendous success with skirts from pegged miniskirts and those above-the-knee to fuller looks,” said Gloria Brandes, owner of Jack, a juniors line, and BB Dakota, a young contemporary line, both based in Irvine, Calif. At WWDMAGIC, the lines will be showing printed skirts in lightweight alongside dresses in painterly prints.
New York-based Blue Plate Fashions will be focusing on maxilength dresses and skirts “in a big way” at WWDMAGIC, said Lina Perez, sales manager of the line, which sells to Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Urban Outfitters. Expect to see a variety of trims, including pom-poms and embroidery, on the looks featuring bright colors and larger florals. Wholesale prices range from $22 to $32 at department stores.
The bohemian rhapsody is also injecting new life into denim’s popularity. In the juniors category, vendors are introducing a host of new washes and effects that are boosting denim sales.
“Our denim business is great,” says Deke Jamieson, senior vice president of marketing for New York-based Dollhouse.
Jamieson cites bestsellers as colored denim and styles with acid washes and bleached-out effects. For WWDMAGIC, Dollhouse will be showing early spring denim deliveries in alternative lengths, such as shorts and cuffed styles, with a hippier edge as an antidote to the cleaner, darker styles that “are already in everybody’s closet,” he said.
Teenage shoppers in spring 2009 can let their hair down in Dollhouse dungarees ranging from bell-bottoms and boot cuts to skinny silhouettes with distressed, shredded and ripped touches. Frayed hems and patchwork elements all enhance the novelty appeal of denim. Wholesale prices average $20.
Still embracing the trend of denim minus the bells and whistles is a denim newcomer to WWDMAGIC, El Monte, Calif.-based Sweet Vibes, which for the past three years has been catering to a multicultural market. Designed for the juniors girl with “hips, shapes and curves,” said Steve Hagstrom, vice president and general manager of the line, Sweet Vibes will be showing holiday and spring denim, nondenim casual bottoms and sportswear at the show.
“Most of our play is in the dark market with our overdyed blue fabric, which has good stretch, rich color and is more slenderizing, helping our customer get behind the skinny trend,” Hagstrom said. “The skinny business for us exploded about six months ago and now represents 66 percent of our sales.”
At the show, Sweet Vibes will introduce a superskinny fit with a leg opening of 11.75 inches along with jumpers, rompers and shorts with high-waisted treatments and zippers. Hagstrom said another popular item that will continue is colored denim in bright, piece-dyed hues of hot pink, hot turquoise, red and yellow. Wholesale prices average $17.50.
Complementing the denim offerings at WWDMAGIC is a bounty of T-shirt companies, creating upbeat looks with the help of color and graphics. Mighty Fine is kicking off its new Imaginary People line of knits, aimed at boutiques and wholesaling from $10 to $16. The longer bodies will feature dolman sleeves, tonal stripes and foil and glitter details. Los Angeles-based New Breed Girl, which sells to Zumiez and Metro Park, will be exhibiting late fall and holiday short- and long-sleeve tunic T-shirts and its new funnel-neck hoodies in cotton and thermal featuring “new disco” colors of neon yellow, red and purple with oversize front graphics. Wholesale prices range from $12 for short-sleeve shirts to $18 for hoodies.
“We’re sticking to fun themes,” said Patrick Wood, vice president of New Breed Girl. “Everybody’s not in a fun mood and we want to continue to keep it light. Not dull. People are feeling dull.”
T-shirts are a big part of the mix at Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Skatera, a new line targeting the skateboarding gal. Begun by Chris Chaput, a former professional skateboarder who now manufactures skateboarding hard goods, the 30-piece collection offers T-shirts, hoodies and pants mostly made of earth-conscious fabrics, such as organic cotton and bamboo, in a color palette of asphalt and concrete with accents of hot pink. Stripes, burnouts, skateboarding graphics and specialty dyes will give the T-shirts their street edge.
“We think teenage girls who don’t skate will love this as much as the hardcore skater,” said Keri Hathaway, designer of Skatera, which wholesales from $12 to $35.
Across the fashion and hobby spectrum, T-shirts will be core to the range of new products being launched by the racy Penthouse brand, targeting men and women ages 18 to 35. Apparel, handbags, luggage, home decor and barware are launching for holiday and spring. Ribbed tank tops, tunic T-shirts and cotton and spandex-blend T-shirt dresses with rhinestones, along with little jackets and skirts will incorporate graphics from six different themes — wild pet, naughty, sexy, lucky, sweet and spoiled. For example, the “naughty” shirts will feature handcuff graphics.
“We want to be a lifestyle brand and think in this climate buyers are looking for new product to entice their customers,” said Amanda Byrd, director of licensing for Penthouse Media Group.
For fashionistas, the arrival of this year’s “Sex and the City” movie may have been a seminal moment, but the film, heavy on designer styles, hasn’t had a big influence on juniors fashions. BB Dakota will be offering suede vests designed to layer over shirts with smocking and balloon sleeves, and a dress with a detachable flower — in homage to the fashion sense of Carrie Bradshaw — but a lot of brands aren’t riding the movie’s swanky coattails. “We’re not seeing a whole lot of looks come out from the movie,” said Doneger’s Morrison.