NEW YORK — Showcasing brands with a strong point of view — often the quirkier, the better — was the collective modus operandi of Capsule, Tranoi and Designers & Agents, held on Manhattan’s West Side earlier this week.
With 700 brands, Capsule is the gorilla in the room among shows emphasizing independent designers. It’s been getting bigger, since its 2014 acquisition by Reed Exhibitions, and is poised for more growth.
In addition to Capsule at Pier 94, Axis, with more than 200 brands aimed at the Millennial market, was housed at Pier 92.
Capsule plans to fortify fast-growing categories such as accessories and beauty. “Curated” areas, such as Perspective: Greg Armas and Elements, were like mini shows-within-the-show.
“A lot of my brands show here,” Lori Parkerson, owner of Redeem in Washington, D.C., said of Capsule. “We opened in 2006 and we’ve seen crazy growth. Because there aren’t a lot of small, independent retailers in Washington, we get customers who are looking for something more unique.”
“I’m finding a lot of design and a lot of conscious work out of Peru,” said Anthropologie buyer Nicole Cicchitti. “There’s lots of texture and fuzzy, nubby yarns that are perfect layering pieces. Because of the styles and stories, most things will warrant better price points. In an extremely saturated market, stories that are eco-friendly and support women will set these lines apart.”
Fabric-driven Ace & Jig, sold at Barneys New York, and Matchesfashion.com and Liberty of London in the U.K., is a tactile collection with an ethnic sensibility. Many items are reversible or can be worn two ways, from the front or the back. Retail prices range from $250 to $450.
“We’ve seen all of our contemporary buyers here,” said a spokeswoman. “We’ve had 30 appointments a day.”
Harshman is based on natural fibers such as linen, merino wool and Italian cotton. “We’re trying to be slow fashion,” said designer Derin Dundar, who studied fashion in Milan. “Our clothes are seasonless. Everything has some version of the stripe.” The line wholesales for $70 to $98. Dundar said a collaboration with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.com is in the works.
Until Soon, Wendy Wurtzburger’s refined sweater collection, features ballet-inspired shapes spun from gossamer-thin cashmere, merino-blend cropped cardigans, and cashmere and lambswool-blend jackets, with wholesale prices from $140 to $300.
International Playground’s multiple labels reflected the offering at the retailer’s Broome Street store: Tucker, Eve Gravel, Kow Tow and H. Fredriksson. Just outside the exhibition area was another brand that needed its own space: MarryMe-JimmyPaul, an over-the-top, Day Glo-infused mash-up of faux fur and PVCs. “It’s wild and wonderful and it’s relevant for about five to 10 stores in the world,” said IP co-founder Johnny Pizzolato. A giant cartoonish yellow slicker and clutches with fake hair sealed between clear plastic were among the items.
Tranoi, whose third season at The Tunnel featured 80 avant-garde and contemporary designers, continues to hone its offerings. “Hopefully, we’ll expand to a second location for accessories and perfume,” said David Hadida, chief executive officer of Tranoï. “We want to see fashion with a global view,” Hadida said, noting that 60 percent of exhibitors are from the U.S. “We also take a risk on young designers, but we make sure they’re [solid.] We’re talking about expanding into lifestyle and home products and men’s wear.”
Muleh in New York; American Rag, California; Elements, Dallas; Takashimaya, United Arrows and Isetan, Japan, were among the retailers represented, Hadida said.
Asked about the trend toward buy-now, wear-now, Hadida said, “We have to think that through. Just because a few designers said that… we can’t be expected to move at once. Not everything that’s going to happen is going to be good, but some of it will be good. Fashion is about change.”
Catherine Osti’s collection of cuffs and collars that can be worn to elevate day clothes were unique. A 13-year veteran of Chanel’s haute couture workshop in Paris, Osti’s cuffs are made in Lyon of leather, lace or silk and decorated with laser-cut flowers, antique chains and pearls. Retail prices range from 190 euros to 750 euros ($209 to $826 at current exchange). “Couture” cuffs, such as a white embroidered pair with pearls and silk petals — a collaboration with Maison Cécile Henri, an atelier that works with Dior and Valentino – are available on demand and priced at 4,200 euros ($4,630).
Distinctive fabrics was a theme running through all the shows. Vlas Blomme, Flemish for linen flower, is made from 100 percent linen spun in Belgium. Japanese calligraphy ink is used for the dyes. The brand has a loose and comfortable aesthetic. Fabrics get softer and ever so slightly faded with every wash.
Wholesale prices range from $80 to $450. Designer Yoriko Sakurama also creates a delicate jewelry line, Cerasus, which means cherry, from gold-plated brass and semi-precious stones.
“Hey, come see Minxx,” drawled Sylvia Roberts of the brand designed by her daughter, Margaret. “My mom, over there, is wearing a pair.” Indeed, Suzanne Caldwell Lanbry, Roberts’ mother, and Margaret’s grandmother, was wearing a pair of faux leather leggings with wide vertical lace strips running down the sides. “I use the same fabric NASA developed,” said Margaret. “It keeps you warm when it’s cold out and cools you off when it’s hot.” Fabric leggings wholesale for $95. “We gifted a pair to Steven Tyler,” Sylvia said. “He chose this tricked-out pair with sterling silver crosses and python patches.”
Designers & Agents featured 200 brands spread over two locations on West 26th Street and West 22nd Street.
“The number of buyers and people writing orders has not been seen for a while,” Ed Mandelbaum, cofounder of the show. “People have been scared because of the economy or the [stock] market.”
Barneys New York and Barneys Japan; Lost and Found in Santa Monica; Reliquary in San Francisco, and United Arrows were among the retailers represented at D&A, Mandelbaum said.
As reported, the show was recently chosen for a collaboration with the New York City Economic Development Corp. where a select group of designers will be offered fully subsidized exhibition spaces at D&A: Made in N.Y. Collective in September. “We’re hoping to find the next Marc Jacobs,” Mandelbaum said.
Enshalla’s handbags, which are handmade in Marrakesh from suede lambskin, wholesale for $40 to $95. “We work hard on the skins,” said a representative. “We use the same factory as Givenchy and Chanel and make sure there’s no chrome in the dyes.”
Perseverance London, which is sold at Liberty of London, featured feminine fabrics and classic silhouettes with a sexy edge or unexpected pop of color. Dresses retail for $495 to $650; tops, $310 to $395, and blazers, $425 to $450.
Inspired by nature and Chinese culture, Non-Season’s sweaters are made from fibers collected by farmers in its own collective. There’s a gray cashmere poncho with white doves and a cream-colored sweater with a sketch of Paris on the hem.
Porridge and The Odells are the proprietary lines at Bucks & Does, the Silverlake store operated by designer Laura O’Dell and her husband, Jason. Porridge features dresses, tops and jumpsuits in custom prints and yarn-dyed fabrics with prices from $60 to $80 wholesale. The Odells, a more grown-up version of Porridge, is also sold at ABC Carpet and Home and Anthropologie.