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NEW YORK — Retailers are hoping consumers will be as optimistic as New York’s designers come spring.
This story first appeared in the September 16, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
New York Fashion Week blew through town with easy, effortless and colorful collections, a welcome development for retailers (all except Marc Jacobs, that is). Store executives used words like “fresh” and “optimistic” to describe a host of new items women presumably don’t own and, they hope, will spur the increasingly picky consumer to buy apparel for a change rather than only accessories.
“There are a lot of great new items coming this way that we don’t have in our wardrobes,” said Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president of the fashion office for Hudson’s Bay Co. Those include everything from cropped tops and shirting to white motorcycle jackets. There’s a growing separates movement where a matching top that’s not a jacket and skirt are seen as the new suit.
“I felt an energy or a newness in the silhouettes that felt fresh,” said Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction for women’s ready-to-wear at Bloomingdale’s. “It felt like certain shows had an optimism about them.”
It all came down to brass tacks for retailers. “It’s a season that is very much all about sellable product,” said Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong. “You want to buy and wear without overthinking. New York City has been very much about that pragmatism. New York for us is an important market and big commerce.”
“We saw a lot of beautiful clothes that have commercial viability,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “We are a color company. Overall, we are very [pleased] about the amount of color we saw on the runways.”
Skirts and pants will be key items, and with many guises, retailers hope consumers won’t settle for just one of each.
The trends didn’t go far enough for some, however. “New York has been a bit confused,” said Nevena Borissova, founder of the Curve stores. “The silhouettes aren’t changing that dramatically.”
Here’s more of what retailers had to say about spring:
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue
Favorite collections: Suno, Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, The Row, Tory Burch, Helmut Lang, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler.
Favorite trends: Casual and effortless elegance, relaxed, but not completely undone.
Must-haves: Jumpsuits, white and pale-colored leathers, sleeveless jackets and vests, culottes and three-quarter-length pants, longer skirts and dresses, cropped tops, men’s wear-inspired shirtings, sporty blouson jackets.
Ones to watch: “Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo of Tome really moved their collection forward.”
Sound off: “There are far too many runway shows. It’s gotten out of control and is unmanageable. This problem does not exist in London, Milan and Paris. It is not necessary for every contemporary brand to have a show.”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman
Favorite collections: Joseph Altuzarra, Ralph Rucci, Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, and Victoria Beckham.
Favorite trends: A new sense of ease, languid and floating looks. Black and especially white continue and the infusion of pastels feels right. A clear favorite of the week was shirt dressing.
Sound off: American designers have “now reached a level of sophistication, originality and business viability. The Europeans should take note of our future national bench strength.”
Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director at Barneys New York
Favorite collections: Joseph Altuzarra, Juan Carlos Obando, Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler and Opening Ceremony.
Favorite trends: A modern Nineties remix, minimalism that’s not as stark and has a fluid, feminine touch.
Must-haves: Slipdresses, soft tailoring, cropped tops for layering, softer bags from Rag & Bone or The Row.
Price-value: “Refreshingly, at the showrooms, we’ve seen strong price-value relationships. Where we find the fashion and price is outstanding on the runway we’re happy to have the option to select more accessible reinterpretations of these styles in the showroom.”
Up-and-comers: “She’s no newcomer within the New York fashion scene but we’re excited about the transformation of VPL into an activewear collection. Victoria Bartlett has always been mindful of the anatomy of the body and influenced by sport. A more technical and performance VPL is a natural evolution for the brand.”
Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong
Favorite collections: Joseph Altuzarra, Victoria Beckham, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler and Rag & Bone.
Favorite trends: Minimal, clean, pared down, a softer and fresher Nineties sensibility with an ease and serenity to it, Fifties-midcentury femininity, white, monochromatic black-and-white and plenty of color.
Must haves: Cropped tops is the number one element that came through at every collection. Shirting and skirts — short, at the knee or midcalf. The dress is a Nineties slipdress.
Ones to watch: Rosie Assoulin, Tome.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus
Favorite collections: Joseph Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Victoria Beckham, Helmut Lang, Rag & Bone and Alexander Wang.
Favorite trends: A return to separates; pleated pants; shades of pink, black and white, Jordan almond colors and all white; logos; interesting new takes on skirts with longer hemlines, from midi to calf to just above the ankle.
Must-haves: The little white dress, the shirt or shirtdress with a fitted bodice and fuller skirt. It’s a piece the customer has not had in her wardrobe for a while.
Sound off: “Lincoln Center has become an absolute circus. It’s challenging to get in and challenging to get out. Last season, we saw an enormous influx of people who weren’t in the fashion industry. I’m thrilled that people are enthusiastic about fashion. But when enthusiasm becomes a hindrance to conducting business, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the purpose of having people there?’”
Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction for women’s rtw at Bloomingdale’s
Favorite collections: Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Narciso Rodriguez, Vera Wang and Rag & Bone.
Favorite trends: Dressing in separates, black-and-white and head-to-toe white.
Sound off: We saw a lot of things on the runway that were more generous or had more relaxed fits that will probably be toned down in the showroom. The really oversize bottoms and baggy pants, I don’t know if they’ll translate on the selling floor.
On Marc Jacobs: “It was certainly different than anything else we’ve seen. I want to understand the inspiration behind it. He’s like no one else. It was fabulous and fantastical.”
Ones to watch: Tanya Taylor, Marissa Webb, Misha Nonoo, Veronica Beard. “We buy Misha Nonoo. We’re always looking for newness at Bloomingdale’s.”
Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s group vice president/fashion director — global forecasting
Favorite collections: Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger.
Favorite trends: “The white story is amazing. Mesh, sheer, cutouts and lace and eyelet are very modern and very feminine. The floral story is very important, from small bouquets to oversize and artistic. The athletic trend and the mood of graphic and black-and-white.”
Must-haves: “The new crewneck, shirtdress, motorcycle jacket, not necessarily in leather and not only in black, varsity jacket and pencil skirt.”
Sound off: “The fact that there’s such an overlapping of shows. It would be great if every organization could coordinate a calendar that could be a little more realistic.”
Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president of the fashion office for Hudson’s Bay Co.
Favorite collections: Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Theyskens’ Theory.
Favorite trends: The street and a sporty, Nineties feel are two major themes.
Must haves: The blouson, varsity jackets, longer skirts, narrow pencil skirts and fuller skirts, wider trousers, cropped or boxier tops, shirting, shirtdresses, figure-hugging Fifties-esque dresses.
Ones to watch: “Wes Gordon put on a really strong show. We buy Wes. We’re picking up Tome and we’re going to look into buying Rosie Assoulin.”
Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew, Canada
Favorite collections: Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Victoria Beckham, Rag & Bone, The Row, Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs.
Favorite trends: Nineties minimalism, pale pinks, white leather, culottes. Slouchy and relaxed silhouettes, separates and two-piece dressing — the matching top and skirt is the new suit.
Must-haves: The oversize shirt, bomber jacket, sleeveless oversize jacket-vest, loose relaxed pant and slipdress.
Ones to watch: Adam Lippes, Misha Nonoo, Adeam, Rosie Assoulin, Tome and Wes Gordon. We picked up Tanya Taylor, a Canadian, and we’re starting to see some growth with Jonathan Simkhai and O’2nd.
Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising at Nordstrom
Favorite collections: Narciso Rodriguez, Prabal Gurung and Proenza Schouler
Favorite trends: “We’re really loving the important skirt trend. There were amazing transparent skirts, voluminous skirts, pleated skirts and supercool pencil skirts. We saw a lot of longer lengths in dresses and skirts and there was an abundance of desirable cropped tops on the runways. We also loved the return of so many solid colors this season.”
Nevena Borissova, founder of the Curve stores
Favorite collections: Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Phillip Lim and Proenza Schouler.
Favorite trends: “There are new shapes and new dimensions. The Nineties thing was really on the runways. Cropped tops, but they have to be styled right.”
Sound off: “What’s been missing from New York is novelty. That very embellished item, I need to have that. People are more playing with fabrics. For me it’s exciting, but to the average consumer, it’s not that different.”
Price-value: “It’s expensive. In some collections, a blazer costs as much as a couch. I’ll buy two that are very expensive and 15 cheaper ones.”
Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director at My-wardrobe.com
Favorite collections: Thakoon’s new take on minimalism, Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs’ dark Victorian extravagance.
Favorite trends: Nineties nostalgia, the lightweight minimalist trend, anything white and sugar-almond pastels.
Must-haves: Wide-leg culottes at Suno, pleated below-the-knee skirt at Proenza Schouler and an embroidered jacket from Marc Jacobs or Altuzarra.
Up-and-comers: Rosie Assoulin is definitely the one to watch.
Susan Davidson, chief executive officer of Scoop
Favorite collections: Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Zac Posen, Jonathan Simkhai and Kaufman Franco.
Favorite trends: Eyelet, perforated and stamped leathers, floral prints, black and white and light pink.
Must-haves: Boxy shirts, Alexander Wang’s “Parental Advisory” T-shirt.
Ones to watch: “Veronica Beard and Jonathan Simkhai looked good. The one to watch is going to be Edun with new creative director Danielle Sherman.”