Intermezzo Feels Effects of Economic Crunch

Stores searching for new holiday items.

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NEW YORK — The economic malaise and higher costs, particularly for air travel, shadowed this season’s Intermezzo as many retailers opted out of the show.

This story first appeared in the August 7, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A significant number of retailers who attended ENK International’s biannual Intermezzo, which ended a three-day run Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here, appeared to be from New York or the surrounding area.

“Planes are so expensive nowadays,” said a merchant in Columbus, Ohio, who typically flies in for the show but didn’t come to save some money on travel. “I go to Project right after Intermezzo and anything I can do at Intermezzo, I can also do at Project. I can just fill in the rest at showroom appointments and during spring market at Coterie.”

Retail traffic appeared to be slow, but ENK said final attendance figures haven’t been tallied yet.

With four locations in Connecticut, Suzanne Zarrilli, owner of the contemporary store Wish List, didn’t have far to travel. “But I was also hoping to see more newness for holiday and everyone is showing spring and summer already. I need more immediates, more gift items for holiday.”

However, Zarrilli said she was pleased with what Voom by Joy Han had to offer.

“That line looked great and we placed an order,” she said. “But what I need are more tops that I can sell for under $100. I want my customers to come in, buy a top and a pair of jeans to go with it — a whole outfit. They aren’t going to do that with a top that’s over $100.”

Cheryl Grapkowski, an assistant buyer for maternity chain A Pea in the Pod, took the relatively quick train ride from Philadelphia to attend the show.

“I’m finding some things. Bailey 44 looked pretty good,” she said. “We look for lines that we can buy right off the line and all they have to do is change their specs a bit, which many people are open to.”

For Randi Siegal, owner of the three Rapunzel’s Closet stores in Palm Beach, Fla., who lives in Manhattan, Intermezzo was a success.

“We picked up the Current/Elliott denim line, which was a really popular booth,” she said. “Their boyfriend jean is very in right now, so we picked it up in two washes. The colors for resort were great, bright and bold. Splendid continued with the ombré. Vince had bright oranges and deep purples. We also ordered a few nice simple cashmere cardigans from Vince and Juicy. Love Quotes is still a great seller for us, and they continue to have a large color selection for the next few deliveries.”

On the exhibitor end, there were about 25 new brands. One of them was Dana-Maxx, a contemporary sportswear line consisting of bright floral silk dresses, cotton canvas dresses, cotton and rayon skirts and silk tops accented with crystal details. Colors in the collection include black, white and gray, with pops of teal and bright pink found in unusual details such as the bright pink lipstick pocket on a black skirt or an image of French pop singer Yelle on a top with crystals placed as her eyes.

“We buy all of our fabrics in France and Italy, and for spring, I was really inspired by Parisian pop singers, who are really upbeat and colorful,” said owner and designer Dana-Maxx Pomerantz, who worked in design at Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson before starting her own collection.

The Dana-Maxx line is based in Manalapan, N.J., and wholesales from $110 for a skirt to $150 for a dress.

Also new to the show was T-Box, which is based in Istanbul, but is launching in the U.S. The brand started with the idea to sell a T-shirt compressed into a small plastic cube. The playful packaging saves on floor space and is an attractive, kitschy gift item. The brand is owned by Boyner Holding, the largest apparel retailer in Turkey. T-Box items come in a variety of forms, from a compressed cotton T-shirt to a full pajama set, beach towel or raincoat, all shrink-wrapped into tiny plastic packages.

“The show has been good for us, people are really responding well to the product,” said Jeannine Cotropia, a sales consultant for T-Box who is based at the brand’s office at 1411 Broadway in Manhattan.

The T-Box line wholesales between $6 for a headband to $29 for a raincoat.

Bonnie Benedetto, owner and designer of the Yardley, Pa.-based Gourmet Wear, said she was consistently busy at the show, despite the overall slow traffic.

“We launched this brand about a year ago at this show and we have doubled our volume since then,” she said. “So it’s been a good year.”

The concept behind the line was to create a full collection of luxurious comfortwear, such as the baby pink cotton and linen dress or the cotton knit pea jacket, Benedetto said. There are supersoft cotton tops and lounge pants, dresses and tops.

“A woman can put these on, look really put-together, but still comfortable,” she said.

The Gourmet Wear collection wholesales from $28 for a T-shirt to $48 for a dress.�

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