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WWD Coterie Preview: Brand Outlook on the Upswing

Many vendors heading to the show have a sense that despite economic malaise, the fall season is shaping up well.

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WWD Coterie issue 02/20/2013

NEW YORK — There’s no business without new merchandise.

This story first appeared in the February 20, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That seems to be the most common refrain among vendors as they head to the Fashion Coterie show scheduled for Sunday to Tuesday. It’s also one of the reasons giving many a sense that despite economic malaise, the fall season is shaping up well.

“I see the market trending in a positive direction,” said Tom Nastos, president of ENK International, which organizes the show. “We had a strong Accessorie Circuit and Intermezzo to start the year, and that’s always a good barometer for us to gauge. It was a good show in attendance — people were writing business and looking for immediates. We are looking at a positive trend and most people are feeling that.”

There are many new brands at Coterie this season, including BLK DNM, Koral, Tom Ford Eyewear and Kamali Kulture.

RELATED STORY: New Denim Players Enter Coterie Ring >>

“In addition, this time we have Japan Fashion Week joining us, bringing approximately 10 brands to Coterie,” Nastos said. “It’s such an international event and we are always working to get new, exciting dynamic brands to the marketplace.”

Next week’s edition of the Coterie will take place at two venues: the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Pier 94. ENK is providing shuttle and car services between the two sites.

Overall, there will be a slew of international brands from such countries as South Korea, Australia, Japan and Italy, and this year’s customized bag was sponsored by Paige.

Several brands, including Joie, Tibi, Whitney Eve and Rebecca Minkoff, will show their fall collections, even though they bowed during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and Milk Made earlier this month. The TMRW section — focusing on emerging talent— is also being tweaked with new collections that perhaps have more commercial appeal than some of the more directional brands of past seasons.

Shoe show Sole Commerce, meanwhile, has moved to the Galleria at the Javits Center. Newcomers this season include Rachel Roy, Loeffler Randall and Julian Hakes.

Nonoo designer Misha Nonoo is bringing both pre-fall and fall, which she also shows during New York Fashion Week, to the show.

“For pre-fall, I looked to the contemporary art curator Axel Vervoordt for the way he layers and textures all his interiors, and, for fall, I was inspired by Russia prior to the Communist era — during the Romanovs,” Nonoo said.

Nonoo’s business has grown significantly since opening her first independent showroom last year. The Fashion Group International Rising Star winner for women’s ready-to-wear brought her advanced contemporary collection to Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop.com and Harvey Nichols.

For fall, she added a strong focus on tailoring and outerwear, as well as knits, with 10 deliveries a year.

“No matter what happens in politics or with the financial cliff, people want newness and freshness on the floor,” Nonoo said. “That’s why you need to deliver new merchandise every month.”

RELATED STORY: Coterie Preview, a Girl for All Seasons >>

After Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, Scott Morrison launched 3×1 last year, and for fall, which he will be bringing to Coterie, women’s wholesale will be a key focus.

Morrison said the climate “seems to be improving quite a bit, as our women’s wholesale business has more than doubled in the last season, and our store in SoHo continues to show increased sales month over month from last year.” He continued: “Obviously, we’re just a couple of seasons in, but we’re excited about the growth and our unique point of view in an otherwise crowded market. One of the factors that has helped our growth can be attributed to simply changing our seasonal sales cadence to evolve with the needs of our wholesale partners.”

This marks the brand’s second season at Coterie.

“We are excited to see denim start to return to the market, so we’re introducing a core denim collection for the first time in 3×1’s history,” Morrison said. “We’re also committed to mixing materials in many of our fashion jeans, and to continue using coated denims and high-recovery superstretch fabrics, and focusing on fit as ways to redefine the women’s advanced contemporary market.”

Fall, he added, is expected to be “nothing short of fantastic” for 3×1. “As a small, growing brand we’re seeing fantastic growth with the launch last season of our wholesale collections and we think fall 2013 will be even bigger and better,” Morrison said.

Showroom Seven will bring several lines to Coterie, including Erickson Beamon, Monika Chiang, Issa, Johnny Was, Liebeskind and Rachel Zoe Jewelry. Karen Erickson, partner in Showroom Seven, said the show is always strong and particularly offers new international businesses.

“Business seems pretty good,” Erickson said. “I think people have pent-up frustration, they want to buy pretty new things. Maybe they aren’t renovating their homes because of the shaky real estate market and they’re not buying drapes for the house. Now they’re draping themselves.”

As for trends, Erickson pointed to “an undercurrent of an Eighties feeling mixed with a Sixties feeling. It looks right again. It’s a rounded shoulder, not quite shoulder-pad-y. I also think bright colors are still in, as is black. I see all the young trendy girls wearing button earrings straight out of the Eighties.”

The Notify brand, also with Showroom Seven, is “developing strategies to reconquer this [U.S.] market,” said Notify sales executive Héloïse Sennegon-Beraldi. “Our main goal is to bring the brand to the U.S. market at the same level it is in Europe.”

That means targeting a luxury market with a more selective distribution.

“We have [worked] on a capsule of raw denim looking for unwashed looks while keeping comfort,” Sennegon-Beraldi said. “We have lightened our velvet and developed [a] high-waist style. We are very curious and it’s a kind of challenge to see the impact of the high waist on the U.S. customers. We expect a new positioning on the U.S. market and a new impetus to establish the brand over the U.S.”

Howard Aubrey, president of the multiline showroom The Isabella Co., is bringing such international brands as Bianca, Gerry Weber, Save the Queen and Joy & Girls, a German brand making its U.S. debut, to Coterie.

“Business climate is very mixed and not region specific,” Aubrey said. “Many retailers are apprehensive about the ramifications of the administration’s tax policy, yet the first few weeks of 2013 have shown an improvement in retail selling. Although many retailers are careful about adding new labels, our previous experience has shown that when the product is right, the buyer will find the budget. Our company is fortunate that we are selling prime European brands which are filling various voids in the market.”

Handbag and small leather goods line Hobo is focusing on the importance of bohemian and folkloric influences for fall. Key items will include a mix of “found treasures from our favorite thrift shop,” said Beth Young, marketing manager for the Annapolis Junction, Md.-based brand.

“The season’s dynamic emeralds and violets mingle with golden hues and grounded neutrals,” Young said. “Prints inspired by peacock plumes, watercolor exotics and retro winter florals create a rebellious and Victorian-Mod mood. Timeless details blend with boho charm to create styles that are all at once fetching and feminine, creative and cool.”

This year Hobo celebrates the 10th anniversary of its iconic Lauren wallet that features two roomy pockets and a kiss-lock frame detail and is large enough to use as a clutch, while still small enough to function as a wallet. Made from the finest quality leather, its double-frame interior is fully lined in exclusive prints with Hobo’s signature credit card wall, bill pocket and zip security pocket

Koren Ray, Hobo’s cofounder said, “I wanted a stylish design that worked for today’s multitasking woman. Fortunately, the Lauren has grown and adapted over time, changing to accommodate the latest technology, while maintaining its legendary style. Stay tuned for exclusive prints and colors in 2013 as we celebrate this important brand milestone.”

THE SHOWS AT A GLANCE:

What: Fashion Coterie, with TMRW and Sole Commerce
Where: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 11th Avenue and 37th Street, and Pier 94, 12th Avenue and 55th Street
When: Sunday and Monday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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