JACKETS, FLEECE DRIVE FALL BOOKINGS
Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio
NEW YORK — Although holiday business might have been tough for them, moderate apparel makers are generally optimistic about summer and fall.
Looks that are popular with buyers, who have been making their rounds in apparel showrooms over the past few weeks, are fleece, chunky sweaters and turtlenecks.
The jacket, whose offerings were drastically reduced last fall, is making a comeback. Some apparel executives said stores overreacted to the category’s softness and underbought for this past fall.
Lasting Impressions, which produces Tofy, is pinning fall 2000 hopes on three jacket styles: barn jackets, boxy designs, and hooded and zip-front styles.
“The jacket market really needs a shot in the arm,” said Annie Perrino, vice president of marketing. Jackets are expected to account for 20 percent of Lasting Impression’s fall business, compared to 5 percent last year.
Fabrics include boucles and chenilles.
Perrino pointed out that while ponchos should filter down to the moderate selling floor for fall, they are not “an answer to the career jacket.”
“That’s for outdoors” she said.
Other looks at Lasting Impressions that are doing well with buyers are reversible vests in silk and novelty embellished shirts, as well as 30-inch A-line skirts in polyester and viscose blend fabrics, she said.
Still, Perrino said, she is looking at only 5 percent increases for fall 2000.
After cutting back on heavy wool pants and jackets last fall, Sag Harbor is beefing up the category for next fall.
“The stores underbought,” said Harvey Solomon, president, who was forced to reduce his wool garments by one-third due to buyers’ lack of interest.
Sag Harbor’s wool items for next fall include classic pants and jackets. About 25 percent of the jackets have patterns, but, for the most part, newness will be driven by colors from pastels to grays, he said.
In sweaters, Sag Harbor is offering mock turtlenecks and funnel necks.
Sweaters are one of the top categories at By Design, according to Stella Kim, vice president of merchandising. Some of the styles that have booked well are chunky sweaters in chenille and acrylic blend sweaters with animal-skin patterns. Other popular looks are fleece vests and reversible knit sweaters, said Kim, who projects that bookings for fall will be up 30 percent.
Focus 2000 is still working on spring and summer.
“Stores have big inventories at the moment. It’s a big puzzle as to what they want for next fall,” said Charles Glueck, president and design director, explaining why he won’t start showing fall until early February, six weeks later than last year.
As for spring and summer bookings, embroidered pants, feminine tops and trumpet style and carwash skirts have been key looks. Stretch continues to be important, with Focus 2000 offering the look in boucle and knitted fabrics.
Jack Gross, president of Gloria Vanderbilt, expects bookings to be up 41 percent for summer. Among the key looks are anything stretch and varying pants lengths, from capri styles to ankle-length.
He added that shorts, including Bermudas, have been popular, as well as “capri-alls” and “short-alls,” capris or shorts with overall tops.
The bottoms are in denims, twills and yarn dyes, he said.
“The retail environment is really challenging right now,” said Gross. “However, there is a big opportunity for feminine fashion brands.”
He believes his brand has been successful because of its diversity.