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On a Mission

As retailers prepare for a trip to New York for the Fashion Coterie, they say they're in search of new resources, seasonless pieces, sexy tops and...

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As retailers prepare for a trip to New York for the Fashion Coterie, they say they’re in search of new resources, seasonless pieces, sexy tops and well-priced items that make a statement.

Store: NoNo’s
Where: El Paso
Who: NoNo and Missy Altus, co-owners
Hunting For: “At Coterie, lines I am always excited to see include Robert Rodriguez — he hits it right on the money and appeals to a wide range of ages, his styling is sleek and sophisticated while being cutting edge. I adore Nicole Miller and Catherine Malandrino as well. I do an amazing business with these lines,” said Missy Altus. “New York tends to show a lot of heavier fabrics, and I really need to watch for the weights and fluidity of the fabrics, being that El Paso has quite a mild climate and is in a desert and mountain range. We are truly in the heart of the Southwest, so we need to keep it light. I am looking for those items that feel luxurious to the touch, and silhouettes that will make the woman feel beautiful, updated and
fashion-forward, at the same time maintaining a classic femininity. Silk cashmeres, charmeuse, color and, of course, black; beautiful draping, and fabulous cuts — that’s what it’s about. It’s always a thrill to see what the designers come up with season after season.”
— Rusty Williamson

Store: Satine
Where: Los Angeles
Who: Jeannie Lee, owner
Hunting For: Satine carries brands like Zero + Maria Cornejo, Thakoon and Chloé. Lee said that Coterie is particularly important for scouting up-and-coming contemporary designers.
“It’s not about the stand with bells and whistles; it’s about finding something new,” Lee said. “We need to expand our designer roster each season, we have to have something fresh to offer and we need to fill categories. We’ve found some of our best lines in Paris and New York.”
While in years past she’s attended to fill a particular product category — cashmere, for instance — Lee said that, though she’s not looking for anything specific in apparel this time around, she is on the hunt for new accessories like bags, belts and gloves.
“For winter in particular it’s a great filler category for gift items,” Lee said of the accessories market.
— Anne Riley-Katz

Store: Habit
Where: Boston
Who: Pam Santorelli, co-owner
Hunting For: She is seeking items that retail for under $100 yet still have sophisticated detailing. Her customers want a contemporary look, but can’t afford to drop $300 on every item, she said.
“It’s very important to keep our mix reasonable,” she said. “We go to Coterie to seek out the individual, well-priced items and smaller, new resources. It’s easy to find the expensive stuff, but to find that quality under $150 is our challenge.”
For spring, she’s reduced her denim buy (she carries Hudson and Paper Denim & Cloth) in favor of printed tops and easy dresses. For fall, she said she is looking to touch on the high-waisted denim trend, but not go too heavily. She is looking for dresses and jackets.
As a neighborhood shop selling to a small, local base, Santorelli said she mixes in gift items and deliberately carries a range of looks to accommodate different tastes.
“Of all the shows, Coterie has the best mix of styles. It’s not one kind of fashion,”
she said.
— Katherine Bowers

Store: Rapunzel’s Closet
Where: Palm Beach, Fla. (three locations)
Who: Randi Siegal, owner
Hunting For: “I’m looking for tops and dresses that aren’t too tent-like,” Siegal said. “I’d like to see the styles go back to being a bit form-fitting. Too many of the current styles look like they could be maternity.”
Siegal said she also would like to see more versatile sweaters, which can be easily dressed up or down. She’s also on the hunt for dark, clean jeans without the supertrendy features like high waists, wide hems and detailed buttons.
“It would be nice to see something that will be in style for more than a few seasons,”
she said.
— Julee Kaplan

Store: Potpourri
Where: Atlanta (two locations)
Who: Julie Routenberg, owner
Hunting For: “In the past I’ve been in an over-bought position. This downtrend has been going on for about a year. Now, my budget is very carefully planned. Wooly, tweedy, heavy pieces just aren’t selling. I’m going to be careful about weights and not enough companies are. Women are layering and when they take their jackets off, they want to have something interesting on underneath,” Routenberg said. “I am absolutely looking for seasonless pieces, but I’m not going to dilute the excitement of my mix by buying all basics. I think playing it safe can sometimes backfire, because when someone walks into the store, item pieces have to jump off the rack.
“I think in this very difficult economy right now, even people with disposable income are being more cautious, so when they buy something it better be fabulous.”
— Elizabeth Thurman

Store: Lisa Kline
Where: Los Angeles and Beverly Hills
Who: Lisa Kline, owner
Hunting For: Kline said that, in the past, she has found a lack of novelty in the contemporary market.
Still, Kline says she makes the trip because it’s a good place to pick up lines from the tried-and-true designers she stocks in her stores, such as Ella Moss, C&C California, Citizens of Humanity and Chip & Pepper, and because she can fill top-selling categories.
“We’re always looking to fill sexy tops — always looking for that category because it does so well for us,” she said.
— A.R.K.

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