Intermezzo, which ended its three-day run on Monday, attracted about 6,300 retailers looking for the next big round of trends from 425 vendors to fill their stores for summer and early fall. The show, produced by ENK International, had to cancel its September edition at the Hudson River piers following the terrorist attacks and held a belated show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention center in November.
Peasant-inspired looks were plentiful, and denim in a range of looks and treatments saw action, but the major trend was comfort. Retailers placed orders for T-shirts and sweats, vendors said, but these are not your typical pair of running shorts. Instead, retailers wanted sweats with an edge and a fashion presence, including low-rise, terry cloth shorts accented with crystals and sequins, logo fleece hoodies with a bit of novelty, and T-shirts made in soft cotton and spandex blends.
Despite the economic slump in the U.S., vendors in the contemporary category said they continue to see a decent business. Arnie Gale, president of sales and marketing for the Los Angeles-based James Perse, said this is because companies in this market constantly turn out trendy merchandise at prices that the designer customer is willing to spend.
James Perse, a collection of high-quality T-shirts, saw strong bookings in terry cloth suits in a variety of colors, including lime green and natural. Polo shirts booked well, as did polo-collar dresses.
“Our customer will buy a pair of her favorite jeans and pair them with one of our shirts,” Gale said of the five-year-old business.
For Stephanie Lowenberg-Heflin, designer for Troo, a Chesterfield, Mo.-based contemporary sportswear firm, novelty was king. Orders were taken on sheer T-shirts and styles with a design of a street sign encrusted in sequins. Camisoles with crystals on the straps also sold, but the star of the collection was “denim-washed” sweats.
“Because denim is so popular, I had a vision of making a pair of sweats as if they were a pair of jeans,” said Lowenberg-Heflin, pointing out a pair of blue low-rise sweatshorts with a wiskering effect washed on them. “A girl can wear these to the store or anywhere they would normally wear a pair of jeans. These are even more comfortable.”
Troo, which launched last April, saw a lot of repeat business at the show, but also was able to bring in some new accounts. The collection’s wholesale prices of $10 to $44 are an attraction to retailers in the contemporary market, Lowenberg-Heflin noted.
The crew at Nuala, a yoga-inspired fashion line developed by model Christy Turlington, were pleased with bookings at the show.
“This is our first time at Intermezzo, and we are very happy with it,” said Rebecca Dobrick, sales and marketing manager for the brand. “We will be back next time.”
Since comfortable fashion is Nuala’s mantra, Dobrick felt the line was on track with boot-cut, low-rise yoga pants, along with lightweight cotton safari-inspired jacket shirts in natural colors. The season’s color palate was inspired by the array of light, natural and calming colors on Cape Cod, she said.
At Los Angeles-based Frankie B., the denim-based company that helped to pioneer the latest low-rise trend, the rise is moving up a bit, said Sara Sandler, the company’s New York sales representative. While low-rise will remain the major trend at the brand, Sandler said that since finding the proper pair of underwear has become such a challenge, the jeans with a slightly higher rise booked better.
“In L.A., people are a little more daring than in New York,” Sandler said. “In New York, they want a slightly higher rise.”
Sandler said silhouettes in soft fabrics like terry cloth and Lycra spandex blended T-shirts booked well for the season, as well as jeans with a touch of crystals and studs. In the terry cloth collection, micro-miniskirts are booking, along with striped terry jackets, shorts, bikinis and tube dresses. In pants, “muddy wash” jeans were booking, as well as bell-bottoms, boot-cuts and flares.
“I am pleasantly surprised with business,” Sandler said. “We saw a lot of retailers come back that we haven’t seen in a while.”