A Trump effect, for better or worse, seems to be percolating through the New York trade show circuit.
From order amounts to general atmosphere, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were on the minds of designers showing at the Designer as well as the Atelier Designers trade shows held in Manhattan last week, but ideas on what exactly a burgeoning Trump effect means for the industry varied from one showgoer to the next.
Bradley Scott, who designs a conservative line of eveningwear (think lots of silk wool, ruffles and embroidery in mostly cream and black) and voted for Trump, is hoping for the opportunity to dress the First Lady and said her “people” have been in touch recently.
“I’d be honored to dress Melania,” Scott said at the Designer show. “I’d dress any first lady, it would be amazing.”
He also said the trade show had been good for him this season, estimating 40 percent growth in orders. Scott singled out a black silk wool jacket with a trenchcoat-style lapel and elbow length sleeves of two-dimensional black embroidery as a bestseller from his fall line.
Scott’s focus however is dresses, which he said are popular with a number of Fox News broadcasters, as well as Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign spokeswoman.
“These women, they give life to the clothing,” Scott said.
Carlo Goetschel, president of Algo SA, a Zurich-based line of curated, high-end sportswear ranging from slacks and silk blouses to a laser-cut leather blazer and a sable fur coats, also said sales for fall have been doing well and that Algo picked up at least six new accounts.
Goetschel, who was showing at Designer, admitted though that there has been less interest in strictly seasonal dressing.
“There hasn’t been as much interest in full coats, a little more interest in transitional dressing than seasonal, maybe more than we would like,” he said.
Goetschel, hailing from long-neutral Switzerland, seemed nonplussed by a Trump administration, but said with a good-humored lilt that a personal client in Corpus Christi, Texas, had recently sent a letter to Melania Trump, urging her to wear Algo.
“I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll let you know,” Goetschel added.
Other designers were more concerned about what the Trumps mean for business.
Jane Mohr of Dress to Kill, a line of casual, roomy and layerable cotton and linen separates geared toward an older clientele, said this year’s Atelier show felt slower than other years and orders have been smaller — changes she said emanate from uncertainty around a Trump economy.
“People are hesitant, more hesitant, because they don’t know what things are going to look like in six months because of everything, because of Trump,” Mohr said at Atelier Designers.
Other elements that are affecting Mohr’s line are farther out of Trump’s purview, however.
“We have about 90 accounts, and mostly we sell to the same ones every season,” Mohr said. “But those stores, they’re getting older, the owners are older, the clientele is getting older, so I worry. No one is coming up behind them to fill the gaps. In five years or so, I see myself as having less of a wholesale presence.”
Mohr, too, said immediates are becoming more popular, and a look around her space at the show underscored that notion. The room opens onto racks of spring merchandise, while fall is around the corner and nearly out of sight.
Mark Keller, the U.S. representative for Matthildur, a line of cotton and knit separates in a muted palette of slate, black and moss green, for one wouldn’t mind the industry moving toward more of a buy-now-wear-now model, but doesn’t believe it’s going to totally sweep the industry.
“We have the ability to do that to a degree, to be faster, but I’m not sure the market is ready for that,” Keller said at Atelier Designers.
As for his impression of the economic mood around the Atelier show, Keller said it was “lukewarm” relative to other seasons, even though the brand picked up some new accounts and is getting widely positive feedback
Like Mohr, Keller attributed the dampened mood to Trump (and Keller made clear he is not a fan).
“People are very concerned about buying more product with this administration going on,” Keller said. “We’re all over; Oklahoma, Texas, Montana and, yes, our best sales are on the coasts, but the American retailer is being very cautious, more cautious now than in the past.”