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Colorful floral prints and comfort clothes gave the summer looks at Designers & Agents a decidedly hopeful feel — reflecting the spirit of many vendors and retailers at the show.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Customers seem to be looking to shop again, and we are buying with the optimism and anticipation of having a stronger season,” said Alexis Geotes, divisional merchandise manager at Intermix. “Designers also seem more confident going into the season so it is a full-circle effect.”

Geotes added, “We noticed that a lot of trends from spring continue into summer, so we wanted to extend the bold print trend, geometric prints, florals, and the neutrals [and] army color palette that we feel our customer will be able to liven up her spring wardrobe with and add some fresh statements.”

Natasha Lafreniere, a buyer for accessories at Holt Renfrew, was combing the show, which ended its three-day run at the Starrett-Lehigh building Jan. 7, “for great contemporary items, from totes to small leather goods.”

For trends, she noted the cross-body bag in multiple shapes and sizes, and overall, the nude color palette.

Vendors were generally pleased with the show. “We see an improvement on last year,” said Meredith Sherman, sales manager at the Seamless Showroom, which brought along the Daftbird and Daughters of the Revolution labels. “People are still very skeptical and nervous, and they are buying a lot closer to the season. It is forcing designers to rework their whole structure.”

Bestsellers at Daftbird included a striped tank for $34 wholesale, and a banded skirt for $44 wholesale. At Daughters of the Revolution, bestsellers included a cotton voile Butterfly dress for $110 wholesale, a mini-butterfly dress for $100 wholesale, and a printed calla lily top for $80 wholesale.

“The open-to-buy is less and it is very specific,” Sherman said. “There are buyers I have worked with for years who now come and say, ‘These are my T-shirt dollars, and that’s how much I have for dresses.’”

The Archerie label was launched last spring by designer Jillian Grano, who has designed the Utility Canvas bag line for 20 years. Bestsellers for Archerie include a shirtdress for $98. “My stores told me they had a good Christmas season, and people are more willing now to try something new than they were in September,” Grano said.

At Left Coast by Dolan, bestsellers included a thumb hole cardigan for $38 and a fringe top for $30. Rachel Roberts, who handles sales and marketing for the label, said stores continue to be hesitant to “go after anything they are not 100 percent familiar with.”

The Aubrey Co. showroom presented the New Scotland, Epice, G1 and Marika Charles labels at D&A. “Buyers are doing more sales analysis,” Mary Ayscew of Aubrey Co. said. “Buyers are looking for color, classic silhouettes and simplicity.”

G1 bestsellers included classic shorts in an array of colors for $44 and a short linen skirt for $50, while Epice’s printed scarves ranging from $70 to $120 were also popular.

Ed Mandelbaum, who produces the show with Barbara Kramer, said the overall mood had improved noticeably from a year ago. “It’s coming back, but it’s coming back slowly,” he said. “People are no longer walking around scared.”

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