WWD.com/retail-news/retail-features/sweaters-shaping-up-as-holiday-hit-589889/
government-trade
government-trade

Sweaters Shaping Up as Holiday Hit

Shoppers looking for something to keep them warm or to leave under the tree are turning to cashmere and sweaters made of other soft yarns.

NEW YORK — Shoppers looking for something to keep them warm at all those holiday parties or for something to wrap and leave under the tree are turning to cashmere and sweaters made of other soft yarns.

Jackets and looks with romantic detailing also are selling well in stores.

“We’ve had great sweater selling,” said John Henderson, president of Kellwood Co.’s Sag Harbor division. “They’re giving them for gifts. They look really new on the floor.”

The moderate price point isn’t conducive to cashmere, but Sag Harbor has had strong sales of acrylic blends that approach the feel of cashmere in spring colors such as pink, green and lilac. Novelty detailing such as bows, pins and flowers also have been big for the brand.

“The moderate traditional business that wasn’t as strong in the third quarter has been very strong in the fourth quarter,” said Henderson.

Item sweaters made of warm acrylic yarns also are selling well in the Josephine Chaus line, said Judith Leech, executive vice president of design at Bernard Chaus Inc., which makes the brand.

“We’re selling the dressed-up pieces,” Leech said. “People are looking for special-occasion clothes. For this holiday, it’s been all about the special touches. People aren’t buying basics right now.”

Among Chaus’ top sellers are V-neck sweaters with rhinestone necklace detailing and shrunken blazers with grosgrain ruffles.

“Anything with special feminine touches really seems to be happening,” Leech added.

At Boscov’s stores, two-piece cardigan sets are outperforming other categories, while dressy and social-occasion separates, as well as suits, also are ringing registers.

“There are a lot of things that are doing well,” said Tom Crystal, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of the Reading, Pa.-based chain, pointing to strong showings from brands such as Rafaella, Tahari and Emma James.

Store brands also are performing at Boscov’s.

“Cashmere is doing very well and it’s mostly our own private label, Preswick & Moore,” Crystal said.

Sweaters are solid sellers as well for Liz Claiborne Inc.’s namesake brand, said Aru Kulkarni, president of Liz Claiborne apparel.

This story first appeared in the December 15, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s all about color and it’s all about novelty,” Kulkarni said.

Hot sweater looks include stripes, argyle patterns and stitch detailing. Knit tops, such as mock turtlenecks, also have attracted buyers.

Harvé Benard didn’t have a full holiday shipment, but did roll out some short, mostly unbuttoned jackets for early spring, for which Bernard Holtzman, chief executive officer and designer, wished the company had made more.

“We started to ship it, but the reorders were phenomenal,” said Holtzman. “We can’t make it fast enough.”

The look, in keeping with the color trend this year, came in a variety of vivid hues, including mint, hot pink and blue.

“We’re in a jacket mode right now in a very strong way,” he said. “If it’s jean-friendly, you’ve definitely hit your home run.”