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LAS VEGAS — Trends inched along rather than bounded forward at the women’s apparel and accessories trade shows here, where buyers and vendors are still playing it safe as the hobbling economy, political intransigence and weather concerns have them sidestepping the riskiest fashions.
Sheer paneling, cutouts, high-low hems in tops and skirts, lace detailing and vibrant colors, including blues and purples, were among the trends paying return visits to WWDMAGIC, ENKVegas, Capsule, Stitch, Pool and other expos here. Some trend advancements were an explosion of black and white, heavier embellishments such as cotton lace, embroidery and crystals, laser-cut leather and pleats.
“We saw a ton of color in fall lines,” said Stephanie Jenkins, cofounder and market director of the upcoming e-commerce and blog site Styledbynoir.com. She added, “Lace seemed to be all over the show this year. From all-over lace pieces to laser-cut leather that looked like lace, it was everywhere.”
The persistence of trends is aided by in-season buying as retailers double down on styles that are working with shoppers rather than moving on. In young contemporary and juniors, immediate purchases often outpaced longer-term ordering. At New York-based brand Young Threads, general manager Rohan Poddar estimated 70 percent of retail buyers were ordering spring items and 30 percent fall. He said oversize tops with lace and fit-and-flare dresses were selling briskly.
In denim, retailers continued to see consumer interest in colored and skinny varieties, although leading coastal boutiques were shifting back to blue in distressed styles. The “destroyed” look came on strong at directional Los Angeles denim brands like Goldsign and Seven For All Mankind, as did gray denim and coated denim in black and muted fall hues like army green, berry and cognac at both AG and Koral.
Tanya Leach, founder of Fischer & Aniston, said the women’s shop in The Woodlands, Tex., is stocked with colored jeans. “My thoughts are the bright colors all the way through the reds, purples and pinks, it is OK to carry through August. I did buy color jeans for fall, but more of the maroons and dark greens. I definitely think it is going to be a trend for the year,” she said.
Kitson owner Fraser Ross thought streetwear brands proved to be the strongest sources of trend creation at the shows. Brian Lichtenberg’s shirts that turn the Hermés logo into Homiés helped catapult the 13-unit Southern California chain to a same-store sales jump in January, and Kitson was on the hunt for more streetwear items to keep the momentum going. “I haven’t seen anything in seven years selling like that,” said Ross of the Homiés items. “The women carrying Céline and Hermés bags are buying it. They are mixing and matching street with designer.”
Mood: The show’s move from the upscale Wynn to a giant tent outside of Mandalay Bay Convention Center irked some exhibitors and buyers, but ultimately the offerings were still fashion-forward contemporary apparel and accessories with some premium denim. The tents managed a sophisticated vibe with gray carpeting, modern furniture and subdued lighting.
Key Trends: Fur continued to abound in outerwear, from Trina Turk’s curly lamb coats for $595 wholesale to SAM’s coated-cotton three-way parkas lined with rabbit and trimmed with fox and raccoon ($350 to $900 wholesale). Leather, jacquard, and ombré and intarsia knit sweaters looked fresh for fall.
Show Buzz: Traffic was light compared to the megashows, but there were some Project buyers who took advantage of the tent’s proximity to check out some higher-priced women’s offerings. Still, the sweet-spot pricing, from $50 to $250 wholesale, was steep for some. Michael Scott, president of year-old denim brand Driftwood, offered premium denim priced at $35 to $40 wholesale to give retailers 60 percent markups. “The economy is where it is, and everyone wants quality at a price. At $88 or $90 retail these are a no-brainer and increase the number of items per sale that a retailer can make,” he said.
Best in Show: Paul & Joe Sister’s revamped pricing strategy (a 30 to 40 percent reduction that enabled the French brand to sit at the opening price point at U.S. retailers like Shopbop.com seems to be paying off) offered buyers French-made outerwear for under $500 retail. Its black quilted moto jacket for $225 was some serious bang for the buck.
NEXT: Project >>
Mood: This year’s transition of all-women’s brands out of Project to the neighboring ENK show made for some confusion among retailers as to where to find certain resources, but several unisex lines, particularly denim companies, continued to show their women’s offerings at Project in the “Blue” section. Other women’s resources at the show included leather bags with classic or heritage styling, from companies such as Matt & Nat and Will Leather Goods.
Key Trends: Project is still the go-to expo for denim, and there were plenty of trends on display in a range of price points, the most forward being subtle flares with a higher rise, the return of moto and cargo details, longer jackets and vests.
Show Buzz: Much like at WWDMAGIC, the show achieved unity within one giant trade show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center but had clearly marked divisions among premium sportswear, denim, footwear, streetwear and accessories to lead buyers to what they were looking for. There were very few megabooths save for brands like Levi’s and Lucky Brand.
Best in Show: Year-old brand Koral, led by David Koral, son of Seven For All Mankind’s Peter Koral, honed the clean aesthetic with details like tonal stitching but kept the looks forward with both innovation in fabric, washes and stretch technology plus style: The “motor oil” splatter across the tops of skinny jeans was both subtle and statement-making, as were the matte crystal-embellished styles, ranging from $80 to $170 wholesale.
NEXT: Pool >>
Mood: Pool, formerly adjacent to Project, stood alone on a lower level at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The move garnered mixed reviews from the 250 men’s and women’s brands at the show. Some believed it gave Pool an air of exclusivity, while others bemoaned the lack of crossover traffic from Project.
Key Trends: Pool, which is often as much about the message as it is the merchandise, raised the profile of American manufacturing by placing “Made in America” signs in the booths of exhibitors producing their goods domestically. The green message also was important, with reclaimed and reused materials playing large roles. Portland, Ore.-based Indie Ella repurposed Indian silk saris into wrap dresses for $42 wholesale, and Chicago-based Souldier converted remnant leather and suede into colorful totes for $45 to $136 wholesale.
Show Buzz: The quality of affordable accessories at Pool was at a high level. Limbo Jewelry Design, which is opening a 1,000-square-foot store on Congress Avenue in its hometown of Austin, Tex., in March, concentrated on classic shapes in its sterling silver, and yellow and rose gold filled earrings and necklaces priced primarily from $39 to $95 retail. Buyers were homing in on Santa Ana, Calif.-based Marida’s double-chain gold necklaces with city abbreviation pendants retailing for $84. Portland, Ore.-based Fresh Tangerine offered dainty gold bracelets with mint and coral glass beads as well as necklaces with larger natural stones that designer Kimberlee Kogane picked up during travels to Indonesia. Its prices range from $18 to $130 retail.
Best in Show: Pool had its share of new apparel brands. Chicago-based designer Sarah Sands’ Sin Clarity line features lace and grommets, and is priced at $23 to $55 wholesale. Oh My Love, a British brand available at Asos and Topshop, broke into the American market at Pool with bright yellow and blue textured body-conscious minidresses, and black skater-dress styles incorporating mesh. Its prices are largely from $16 to $44 wholesale.
Mood: Around 150 exhibitors gathered at the show in the Sands Expo Convention Center, including a growing group of men’s lines from the likes of Good Boy Gone Bad, Aubade, Jolidon, Mansilk and Hanro. Although the traffic from buyers walking around wasn’t huge, many brands scheduled back-to-back meetings with retailers doing serious business.
Key Trends: Whether the descriptors are curvy, full-figured, plus or voluptuous, brands, including Chantelle, Parfait by Affinitas, Curvy Couture and Curvy Kate, have dived into the market for bras with cup sizes all the way up to G, H and I. Northridge, Calif.-based Parisa has launched Parisa Fé at Macy’s and will soon be at Nordstrom targeting young full-busted customers with bras in racerback, strapless, push-up, demi and plunge varieties priced from $38 to $48 retail sized from 32B to 40H.
Show Buzz: Among emerging brands, there was a drive to give shoppers affordable impulse items. Westford, Mass.-based Marie Bella Lingerie was hoping to introduce its chemises and thongs priced at $60 and $16 retail, respectively, beyond its East Coast stronghold. Founded by sisters Camila and Valeria Velandia to suit their active lifestyles, Montreal-based Miel offered six essential lingerie pieces — a bra, bandeau, camisole, thong, hipster and bikini in a microfiber, cotton and spandex blend priced from $20 to $45 at stores — to outfit women throughout the day.
Best in Show: Lingerie is usually sexy, but some brands are sexier than others. From the Chatsworth, Calif.-based company behind Felina and Jezebel came Black Bow, a new brand priced above Felina and Jezebel at mostly $8 to $38 wholesale that upped the sexy quotient with lace overlay plunge bras, animal print push-up bras, and skirted panties and garter thongs. With a development and design team led by corsetry expert Marie-Ange Sabatier, Montreal-based Anne-Krystel displayed sophisticated lingerie priced from $38 to $115 wholesale, notably its best-selling glittery Aurore Boréale bra and panty styles with tulle floral motifs.
NEXT: ATS >>
Mood: Ranging from splashy to subtle, roughly 200 accessory brands presented their wares at ATS to get in front of buyers from independent boutiques across the country and even outside of it. Most were upbeat about their prospects for doing so.
Key Trends: In jewelry, color was everywhere. Celeste Dominguez, sales executive at Alhambra, Calif.-based Adia Kibur Accessories, pointed to pastel cuffs wholesaling for $10 as strong sellers. Colorful and sparkly triangle-shaped druzy stone rings were all the rage at Los Angeles-based jewelry brand Charlene K. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Uptown Girls showed bold necklaces and cuffs with deep green, cobalt blue and merlot tones. “Last year, 70 percent of my business was in earrings. This year, it is 50/50 necklaces and earrings,” said Kristine Clary, owner of Uptown Girls, where necklaces run from $8 to $28 wholesale and earrings $5 to $18. “I think, after this year, the statement necklaces will be done. I feel dainty is coming.”
Show Buzz: In the past, ATS has been a good show to spot the ‘it’ handbag silhouette of the season. The interesting development at this edition of ATS, however, was that there wasn’t a standout handbag shape. Instead, functionality and versatility were handbag priorities. Maddie Witte, a sales representative at Studio City, Calif.-based Merci Marie, singled out a style wholesaling for $180 that can be carried with hand or shoulder straps. “The ability to have different options is really popular,” she said. Tiffani Sloan started the Silver Spring, Md.-based brand Jitseu, which has bags priced from $105 to $175 wholesale, with a reversible, convertible style that can be transformed 16 unique ways.
Best in Show: Jewelry brands with an urban feel added an edge to ATS’ selection. D Line, the New York-based jewelry brand designed by Donna Levine priced from $7 to $200 wholesale, has evolved from having a historical focus to an industrial aesthetic seen in mesh cuffs. San Francisco-based Serefina Jewelry’s double crystal layering necklace for $32 wholesale and stingray crest necklace for $42 wholesale were ideal for a trendy city girl with a fondness for vintage looks.
NEXT: Stitch >>
Mood: Business Journals Inc. recast Moda Las Vegas as Stitch to reflect the show’s updated mix of sportswear, lifestyle and international exhibitors. The change came with renovations that seemed to be appreciated by the approximately 225 brands at Stitch.
Key Trends: Getting an upscale look for less was a central theme at Stitch. Limaco, which is made in South Africa, offered dresses retailing for less than $200 that are hanging in stores next to dresses for $500 or above, according to Barbara Graff, who consults for the brand. Kenilworth, N.J.-based Jude Connally, which wholesales primarily for $69 to $89, and St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Tracy Negoshian, which retails mostly from $100 to $150, filled their booths with short, bright dresses that could easily have been mistaken for dresses from the more expensive brands Tory Burch and Trina Turk. Both brands are expanding into separates.
Show Buzz: Flattering, versatile items that could transition from day to night scored positive receptions from buyers at Stitch. At New York-based Muse, there was a piece that account executive Marissa Consolazio called a “threefer” for $82 to $88 wholesale that can be worn as a peplum dress, pencil skirt or peplum top. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Karen Klein displayed a dress out of ponte with V-shaped seams that Klein explained “makes every single woman narrower than she is.”
Best in Show: Mongolian company Kailan Cashmere introduced its Kailan X line of cashmere pieces to the U.S. market at Stitch, including dresses priced from $80 to $115 wholesale. The fur trend was bolstered by Pologeorgis, which showed fur at its most contemporary with a reversible rabbit-fur jacket with cap sleeves for $1,400 and a black-and-white mink jacket with three-quarter sleeves for $2,995. The New York-based fur resource’s sales director, Daniel Forest said, “It is not really about that bulky jacket any more.”
NEXT: WWIN >>
WOMENS WEAR IN NEVADA (WWIN)
Mood: The always-genial show had a lively bump in traffic from buyers who took advantage of its day-before-MAGIC start and the free shuttle service between the Rio and the Las Vegas Convention Center, where buyers cross-shopped for value-priced trendy accessories and sportswear.
Key Trends: In apparel, asymmetrical hems on sweaters and jackets, leather and knit combos and embroidery; in accessories, bright resin and matte gold statement necklaces and color-blocked bags.
Best in Show: Paparazzi’s embroidered velvet coats for $79 and Gretty Zueger’s pigment-dyed cotton tunics with stretch panels on the side for $40 to $46.