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With fewer consumer dollars to go around, designers can’t afford to slow down. Here, a look ahead to some of the rising trends in five of California’s key fashion categories.

This story first appeared in the March 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Denim: As leggings remain a fashion fixture, denim designers are co-opting the slim silhouette for themselves. Often resembling five-pocket jeans complete with belt loops and a coin pocket, the legging jeans opt for super-stretchy fabrics to complete the look. The clinginess in Seven For All Mankind’s styles, retailing for between $178 and $198, benefits from four-way stretch denim, while Citizens of Humanity makes use of stirrups on $150 legging jeans to keep things in place. Post’age Denim’s $150 offering pops in purple, and pegs clad in Genetic Denim’s fake snake, green plaid or tie-dye prints — retailing from $210 to $341 — are sure to catch the eye.

Action Sports: Several action sports labels are offering up higher-end offshoots for grown-up surfer girls. Following Quiksilver’s lead launching a young contemporary line last year at E Street Denim in Highland Park, Ill., and Villains in San Francisco, DC Shoes will graduate this fall to silk-cashmere cardigans and hooded jackets made with supple leather. Fox will incorporate lamb leather and Sasquatch fur in a new line called Fox Deluxe. Element Eden is testing the waters with pricier items like brocade pants, and Vans is also flirting with the idea of producing a better-priced grouping. Though premium for the action sports category — Quiksilver’s retail prices run between $38 and $118, for instance — these labels seem like a bargain in the contemporary category.

Contemporary: When Mike & Chris broke into the contemporary market four years ago with their lambskin hoodies toughened up with epaulets, the start-up defied expectations of what constitutes a cover-up. Fast forward to 2009, when an increasing number of fashion labels offer their version of a hybrid jacket, in response to retailers’ call for value and versatility. Erik Hart drapes Italian felt into a $375 capelike motorcycle jacket accentuated with leather piping and a satin lining. Moreover, David Cardona at Monarchy Black whips up a blend of a bomber mixed with a riding jacket and motorcycle zip-up in melton wool. The $385 concoction comes with peaked shoulders, to boot.

Accessories: It’s an old trick to spruce up a dated outfit with a new accessory. In a challenging economy, even accessories can do with a bit of refreshing. Posso helps transform last year’s sandals into this season’s sensation with strap-on spats enhanced with fringe and metallic leather. Boos & Besito elevates the basic ankle boot with a wide-mouth sock cut out of preppy plaid and ikat weave. The classic pump gets a makeover with Boos & Besito’s shoe corsage comprising bright ribbons attached to elastic bands that can be pulled over the shoe. “You don’t have to go buy a new shoe,” said Boos & Besito co-founder Alejandra Hernandez. What’s more, with retail prices set under $50, “It’s a reaction to the recession,” said Hernandez’s partner, Rana Shoar.

Swim: Textured textiles are spicing up swimsuits this summer. Pink ruffles flutter on a $94 white bikini by Guess, while a crinkly red fabric offsets shiny gold trim on a $150 number from Hurley International. “It adds depth and dimension in a way that we haven’t seen for a while,” said Lisa Vogel, co-president of Raj Manufacturing, the Tustin, Calif.-based licensee that produces swimwear for Guess and Hurley. “Textured fabric gives added support and comfort when wearing, which in turn becomes an added value to the consumer.”

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