PARED-DOWN LOOKS KEY AT WHO’S NEXT

Byline: Robert Murphy

PARIS — Pared-down, street-influenced looks in muted hues marked much of the offerings at Who’s Next here.
However, some exhibitors at this trade show dedicated to urban fashion were in a more exuberant mood, showing bold prints and colorful retro ideas.
Beige, pale blue and white were favored colors, although brighter hues were evident, like occasional bursts of orange.
The four-day show, featuring lines for spring 2000, ran through Sept. 6 at the Porte de Versailles and drew 17,361 buyers, down from 18,480 a year earlier. According to the organizers, 66 percent of the attendance was French and 34 percent was from abroad, especially from Italy, Japan, Spain and Britain.
Commenting on the overall drop in attendance, organizers noted the show, held a week earlier this year, coincided with the start of school, so parental duties kept some buyers away. There was also a conflict with the Glissexpo trade show in Biarritz, aiming at the same audience, and SEHM, a major Paris men’s wear event, usually coinciding with Who’s Next, took place early in the summer.
Nevertheless, exhibitors, for the most part, reported business at Who’s Next ranged from steady to brisk. A small number of vendors, however, complained about the exhibitor lineup.
“For us, Paris isn’t what it used to be,” said Gareth Murphy, export director of Mu.E, based in Lyon. “There are too many big jean labels and not enough small creative lines to lure serious buyers.”
Murphy’s company featured A-line bib dresses in nylon or cotton and polyester blends; pants, baggy or fitted, were cut at midcalf, one of the most popular silhouettes at the show. The line was representative of an ultrafunctional minimalist movement, employing antiwrinkle fabrics and cut fluidly for comfort and easy movement.
“Young people want unfussy clothes that can serve several functions — from active daywear to more trendy clubwear,” said Murphy.
At Kiliwatch, another French firm, simple nylon skirts fell just below the knee and were paired with sleeveless cotton tops in black or white. Embellishments were limited to hoods, large zippers or oversized pockets.
By featuring vintage clothes alongside its modern sportswear line, Kiliwatch set itself apart. The company operated an adjacent stand with colorful Seventies sweaters and leather outerwear.
“The two looks are complementary,” said Nordin Youfi, Kiliwatch product manager. “We’ve seen a lot of buyers who say they will merchandise retro items with more trendy streetwear.”
Also tapping into the retro wave was Tomoko Soda, a French company, featuring printed T-shirts and short skirts in bright pink or lime green plaids evocative of the Fifties. “Business has been steady,” said Natacha Gauthier, designer of Tomoko Soda. “I’ve had a lot of Japanese clients write orders.”
Some companies mixed traditional and modern design in single pieces. Marco Sartorelli, an Italian firm, transformed conservative cotton shirts and skirts into contemporary pieces by emblazoning them with bold patterns using laser-printed flowers. To give looks still more of a modern edge, the line also used Velcro or magnets as fasteners.