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Time and Again

It doesn't matter that mom wore it first. The junior customer wants her own closet full of Boho-nostalgic and dreamy fashions from yesteryear.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD MAGIC issue 02/03/2009

It doesn’t matter that mom wore it first. The junior customer wants her own closet full of Boho-nostalgic and dreamy fashions from yesteryear.

This story first appeared in the February 3, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Peace signs, tie-dyes, flowing maxidresses, harem pants, hippie scarves and an acid trip’s worth of brilliant color abound at WWDMAGIC.

Silhouettes that contrast volume against body consciousness are important. The moment calls for silky blouses, skirts and dresses that balloon away from the body and then are gathered back in at the waist, low hip or neck with smocking.

Designers, planning to show immediate goods through back-to-school deliveries, said they’ve been inspired by the Seventies and Eighties.

Borrowing from the punk era, ripped “boyfriend” denim, asymmetrical jackets, plaids and zippers (used as trim, exposed or set at angles) are featured.

However, punk’s edgier side — the skull-and-bones, flames and tattoo graphics popularized by Christian Audigier for Ed Hardy — are fading as a sunnier, gentler mood emerges. Cue flowers, songbirds and rainbows.

“The skull and rhinestone thing was a huge hit, but it’s played out,” said James Ross, co-founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kiss the Girl, a new tops resource that sold more than 200 units during a four-day trunk show at a Bloomingdale’s in Orlando, Fla. “Less is more now.”

The label’s thermal with a rainbow-colored peace sign T-shirt has been a bestseller. As an update, Kiss the Girl will show T-shirts appliquéd with simple, graphic icons such as the Swiss red cross, the Yin-Yang symbol, a dove and others.

Even stronger than the Eighties looks are earthy Seventies styles such as ankle-grazing skirts, bib-front tops and faded T-shirts with old band logos.

“We’re doing slight touches of ruffles, cut-outs, crochet embroideries, little dainty laces and Lurex,” trims, said Simi Shukla, vice president of sales and marketing for New York-based Tramp, of the new, softer mood. “We also anticipate good reaction to “tea party” prints, such as dainty ditzy florals and Jackson Pollock-inspired abstract ‘painter splash’ prints.”

Joe Rosenberg, vice president of sales and marketing for New York-based Fine Threads, maker of junior and junior-plus label URthe1, is seeing interest in gypsy tops with ruffles and dye effects that make colors look layered and deep.

“Our outstanding checkout has been a synthetic shantung silk redone in ombrés and dye-over-dye,” he said, adding the popularity of the look in the contemporary market created demand for an affordable interpretation.

“We’re seeing lots of activity in dresses, whether ethnic-print maxidresses, halters or backless styles, tube dresses, long dresses or dresses that end right at the knee. The look of putting a wide belt over a dress is retailing well,” said Shivani Arora, designer for Funky People and Pura Vida, based in Wooster, Ohio.

Color is also important.

“One of our strongest vehicles last year was a colored denim program, in which we broke a different palette for each season,” said Gigi Weintraub, creative director for Montebello, Calif.-based Celebrity Pink and its lower-priced secondary line, C Pink. “This year, we’re doing three palettes per delivery, mixing neutrals backed with brights. We’ll do black, white and taupe with hot pink and sherbet [hues.] The color mix in stores gives the presentation dimension and freshness.”

Miri Armoza, director of operations for Hialeah, Fla.-based Jean City USA, will show new colors (green, aqua and burgundy) on knit bottoms designed to look like denim. The company, which has produced private label goods for Burlington Coat Factory and others, developed crystal “tattoos” that can be applied to back pockets. Retailers can choose among a variety of motifs (peace signs, fleur-de-lis and others) and have the embellishment applied for $1 per unit, onto the wholesale price of $7.50 to $12 per pair.

“This is a lot of work for us, but it allows our retailers to customize their product a little,” said Armoza.

She said a skinny bottom, done with a 6-inch rise in 5 percent stretch Moleton knit, is still the best performer. An attempt to sell higher rises last year fell flat.

Several companies are launching T-shirt programs, anticipating the style will strike the right note in tough times.

“I hate to say it, but price and practicality will be a huge trend for MAGIC,” said Micha Weinblatt, founder of Crooked Money in Potomac, Md., which will show a new graphic T-shirt line at the show. “T-shirts will be big.”

And finally — with a nod to the Nineties — plaid makes a comeback.

Along with textured wools, faux furs and novelty fabrics, plaid is a top trend for New York-based Santa Fe Apparel Inc., which produces outwear under the CoffeeShop and Latte by coffeeshop junior labels, according to sales manager Mary Shawn DeGaetano.

“We’re doing larger-repeat and Tartan-ish plaids on longer coats,” she said. “For bombers and shorter jackets, we’re doing smaller-repeat plaids with basic background colors and then a contrasting ‘pop’ color in the weave.”

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