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Special Issue
WWD MAGIC issue 08/11/2008

Don’t underestimate the power of color.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Women’s sportswear companies aren’t this coming spring-summer season, noting that strong hues take on added importance to relay excitement and entice shoppers amid a weakened economy.


“When business is on the gloomy side, people look to color for happiness,” said Lisa Rudes-Sandel, president of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. “They look for color to accentuate their lives a little bit. Color is important, especially this year.”


In turn, the Vernon, Calif.-based line will offer capri pants, cropped pants and denim in white, soft blues, corals, greens, bright yellow, lilac and other colors.


“It’s definitely what people are looking for,” she said of the colored capris and slightly longer cropped pants that wholesale for $44 to $56. The denim ranges from $49 to $59. “You’ll see a nice rainbow of colors from pastels to brights.”


D’Arcy Achziger, vice president of sales for New York-based Elliott Lauren, also said color is key. 


“We’re showing lots and lots of saturated strong, joyous colors, which will be important,” she said. “We all need the visceral response. It’s about making people want to get dressed.”


Buyers can expect to see colored denim, linen, cotton sateen and cotton stretch pants in narrow-leg and cuffed cropped looks wholesaling for $49 to $79.


“The season is full of blues,” Achziger said, adding that pants will appear in blue shades of azure, Caribbean, marine and cornflower, as well as shades of corals and greens.


Overall, items this season must instantly resonate with customers in terms of both style and value, she added.


“This season we are not being blasé about price points,” she said. “This will be very important, no matter how much money you have.”


“We have to respect the customer more than ever,” Achziger said. “We have to be much more brutal about [our choices], asking will she get it, will she care. If you have any doubt, don’t do it, not this year. Your appeal to her has to be clearer.”


With that in mind, Elliott Lauren will show knitwear embellished with wood and stone beads, 100 percent cotton crocheted cardigans and lacelike cotton and linen blend cardigans and chunky multistitch hooded 100 percent cotton sweaters wholesaling for $59 to $89. The company will show in the White segment.


Printed tops are also a strong seller for the line coming in more form-fitting wrap styles and looser square-necked looks with elbow sleeves.


Jackets and trenches, wholesaling for $79 to $129, also highlight Elliott Lauren, which includes both solid and digital and geometric prints. All solid-colored coats feature frosted, shine or textured treatment, with many possessing shorter sleeves with cuff and tab details. Skirts, which wholesale for $59 to $79, also add a dose of color in turquoise or coral, as well some graphic and floral prints.


Designer Jill Pemberton, owner of Canadian-based Tangerine Jill, has found it’s all about the details.


“The more unique and distinctive the design the more I sell it,” said Pemberton, noting that her bestsellers include embroidered coats and a black silk organza sheath dress with 26 individually sewn different colored silk taffeta squares. The items wholesale for $180 and $160, respectively. “Now I’m more apt to taking risks,” she said. “Instead of playing it safe, I put it out there.”


Pemberton said she tried crafting beautiful basic coats, “but that doesn’t differentiate me. It’s detail, detail, detail.”


At WWDMAGIC, Pemberton plans to show an 85-piece collection including classic silk or cotton blouses wholesaling for $65, more novel ruffled silk blouses wholesaling for $90 and jackets wholesaling for $135 to $180, all of which possess a classic fit designed to flatter women 35 years and older.


Special pieces include customized reversible silk coats wholesaling for $175, which are black on one side and an optional color on the other. Pemberton also produces a silk sheath dress with cutout detailing on the back that coordinates with the chosen color for $120 wholesale. Buyers can choose from seven main shades including pink, green, black and champagne, and possibly others, Pemberton said.


The designer also expects Tangerine Jill’s wide-leg raw silk pants and raw silk pants with cargo detailing to be strong sellers in ivory, black, steel gray and chocolate brown, wholesaling for $99.


With the questionable economy, some companies will continue to show fall fashions at WWDMAGIC, given that many
retailers are ordering closer to date.


Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, for example, will present three racks of fall pants, from wide-leg jeans and striped denim to heathered twill trousers and corduroy pants in black and brown.


“We’re still getting fall bookings,” said Rudes-Sandel, whose top accounts include Nordstrom and Nordstrom.com. “Not everyone is ready to write spring-summer in August.”


That’s also the case with Los Angeles-based Karen Kane, which will be showing its January, February and March collections along with some spring selections.


Those spring pieces, meanwhile, will boast big, bold colors as well as garden florals, watercolor florals, statement prints, artistic-inspired printed cardigans and new interpretations of tie-dye and ombré effects, said Tiffany Bowe, vice president of sales. Specifically, buyers can look for halter, tank and Henley tops with ruffles and smock detailing, peasant tops and artistic-inspired printed cardigans in the primarily top-driven line.


Bowe said the company usually sells four tops, which wholesale on average for $42, for every one bottom. Pants, wholesaling for $58, possess a slightly higher waist and include some wide-leg flowing looks. Skirts, meanwhile, are also poised to relay a feminine flowing feel with longer bohemian tie-dyed and ombré styles averaging $52 wholesale.


Dresses will account for a smaller part of the line, roughly 10 to 12 percent, said Bowe, who believes the dress craze is coming to an end. “It’s not hitting the wall,” she said of the dress trend, “but it’s getting there.”

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