LAS VEGAS — The hunt was on here as women’s buyers arrived in town to fill their stores with immediates or as far out as holiday, for those able to stomach the risk.
Many of the trends seen from past seasons materialized in new colorways, fabrics or other iterations, leaving some buyers to stick to the familiar rather than take a risk with their open-to-buy dollars.
Among the trends seen from show floor to show floor were ribbed knit, midi-length dresses; suede; tie-front detailing on jersey dresses or tops; crochet kimono-style jackets; shoulder-baring tops, and fringe. Coats and jackets were presented in quilted puffer styles or vests and military-inspired ones. New takes on moto jackets materialized in bright mustards or deeper autumnal shades, boiled wool or suede with faux fur trim.
Seattle-based Zulily’s team of buyers descended on the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay convention centers looking for “retro vintage” looks to bring back to its customers of mostly mothers shopping the site, said Kerry Gibson-Morris, vice president of home, hardlines and licensing.
“It’s boho. It’s hippie. It’s vintage and this has just been a continuous, strong trend for our mom,” Gibson-Morris said. “She really loves the playful fashion.”
The team also sought fresh versions of the “Sixties Flower Power look,” pin-up dress concepts and licensed T-shirts, she added.
Karen Meena, vice president of merchandising and buying at Los Angeles-based Ron Robinson Inc., scored when she found Route des Garden at the Liberty trade show and bought women’s velvet motorcycle jackets from the Italian clothing brand in midnight blue and burgundy for fall/holiday that will retail between $500 to $600. She also came across gypsy-style peasant tops with off-the-shoulder detailing in silk chiffons, a plethora of dresses featuring embroidery or prints and noted that activewear is still going strong. For colors, she saw burgundy, green and navy mixed with black.
“There was a lot of continuation of the same looks, but I did see certain trends and, for me, the selection is going to be about items instead of collections,” Meena said. “And then, as a buyer, I’ll put together the looks from the best items I find on the floor.”
Ron Robin’s customers are not as price-conscious as some, but they are discerning when it comes to quality and style, Meena pointed out.
“Our customers are not sensitive to [price], but they are very conscious about quality, design and finding something before anyone else does,” Meena said. “So as long as it’s not a look they can see everywhere or has a beautiful quality or the right feel, they want it.”
At another end of the retail spectrum is Georgia-based Entourage Clothing & Gifts, a clothing retailer that keeps its stores stocked with items under $42. The retailer operates eight stores in the Southeast in addition to an online business.
Entourage president Katie Nichols said she shopped WWDMagic this season, looking for both fall and immediates with the goal always being able to offer customers new product daily.
“We are seeing boho still going strong, but our roots for our Southern-based customer are definitely still a preppy vibe,” Nichols said, adding she hadn’t shopped any new vendors this season in Vegas.
Pretty Attitude, a Philadelphia-based e-tailer that does business in the U.S. and internationally, projects some growth this year, with the owners thinking more near-term than anything else.
“Everything’s really inspired by all the festivals that are really popular right now: boho, fringe, suede and maxidresses,” said cofounder Marina Burghart.
There were also updates to the Western style in T-shirts, fringe on coats and moto-style leather jackets that caught the team’s eye, added cofounder Christine Hampl.
“We saw a lot of bodysuits. Last year used to be a lot of crop tops and they’re still really popular and, from what we saw, it’s going back to more of the rock ’n’ roll style [for T-shirts],” Hampl said.
Barry Shapiro, who owns three Apricot Lane Boutiques in Florida, is considering adding a fourth person to his Vegas team of buyers to walk the shows next season in a bid to diversify its vendor portfolio rather than frequenting the same booths season after season in order to maintain a competitive edge in the fast-fashion world.
“I don’t feel like I found much in the way of newness. I really don’t,” said Shapiro, a former president of retail for Perry Ellis International Inc. and senior vice president of operations for Chico’s FAS Inc. “Colors are always going to change with the seasons and whatever Pantone says is going to be the new colors.”
To fill his stores for at least the next 90 days, he bought into polka dot dresses and skirts and is now dabbling for the first time in what he referred to as “daytime wedding dresses.” Rompers, retailing from $38 to $58, are still going strong for his stores. In the case of denim, which at one point could have went for over $100, Shapiro’s customers now won’t tolerate prices higher than $68.
Shapiro, who plans to open a fourth door at the Related Companies development in Doral, Fla., in October, is also mulling a return to more branded product, which is likely 25 percent of the current store mix. The remainder is private label but the offering will eventually shift to 50/50 as he seeks to make his stores stand out from others now carrying similar product. He pointed to the frenzy around exhibitors such as Lush in the juniors section of the WWDMagic trade show floor as an indication of the state of the market: too many people now buying from the same vendors, wreaking havoc on retailers’ points of distinction in the marketplace.
“We do a great business with Lush. We’ve been buying the same split V-neck shirt for the last two years. It comes in, we sell it all. More comes in, we sell all of that. They add a new color, we sell out of that,” Shapiro said. “But what happens when that customer buying the Lush stuff comes in and says I have six of these already and we haven’t bought from a different vendor?”