BOUTIQUE SHOW BUYERS SEEK NOVELTY, COMFORT

Byline: Karen Parr

NEW YORK — Retailers sought the unusual and the comfy as they shopped for holiday goods at the recent International Fashion Boutique Show.
Fancy fabrics and trims, from georgettes to fake fur, caught buyers’ attention, and sweater knits were a strong category, as well.
The four-day show ran through Sept. 9 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here. Some 1,250 exhibitors representing 1,800 firms participated, according to Jonathan Larkin, president of The Larkin Group, producer of the event. He said more than 14,000 retailers attended, about 8 percent more than the number at last September’s show. Vendors appeared pleased with the action.
“Our fancier items really moved at this show,” said Jamie Meiseu, sales representative for the New York misses’ firm Her Style. “We normally sell a lot of rayon crepe. Here, we did a little better with our high-end fabrics and dressier dresses.”
She said the firm had a “great show,” with average orders of $3,000 to $5,000.
“We’re doing really well with our sweaterdresses, which are new for us,” she added. “They are georgette dresses with a sweater cardigan.
“The other thing which sold unbelievably well was the sleeveless long georgette dresses with a matching scarf,” she said. “It was one of our number one sellers.”
At Free Follies, a streetwear firm based in South Beach, Miami, East Coast sales representative Elayne Werns said buyers were going for “more fashion-forward” styles and for novelty fabrics.
Boucle sweaters with Mongolian lamb fur trim were on the bestsellers list, along with a fake pony fur coat with Mongolian fur cuffs and trim.
Free Follies also did well with long, beaded polyester skirts with nylon lining and beading and a matching tank top with beaded trim.
Pieces modeled after Gucci looks, but in pleather, also did well, such as a three-quarter-length skirt with a high slit and a matching pleather camisole.
Average orders for the firm were between $3,000 and $4,000.
At French Connection, a contemporary firm here, national sales manager Paige Axelrod explained why she felt more glitzy looks were selling.
“It seems like people are wearing fashion from daytime into evening,” she said.
She called the show “fabulous,” and included among the hot items novelty knits and fashion sweaters, such as a tie-front cardigan, and short and knee-length skirts with side slits.
“It’s all about novelty,” she said. The firm’s average orders started at $3,000.
Among buyers shopping the show, Belinda Bledsoe, owner of She, a small boutique in Johnson City, Tenn., said a lot of the looks were the same as what she saw at the June show. However, she did find several lines she liked — Lip Service, Relish and Cookie Puss — as she searched for holiday items.
“What I liked was the nontraditional pairing of things like the scraggly fur with the oriental fabrics,” she said. “At Cookie Puss, they had a long dress of Asian-style fabric with fringe at the bottom and a spiderweb mesh back. It was just gorgeous.”
Dominique Camacho, buyer and partner of the New York junior catalog Airshop, said she was looking for “cool holiday items.”
“I picked up studded chokers and some cool, big hip-hop reflector pants, and I saw things at In Vitro that I’m going forward with — Spam decal T-shirts,” she said. “And I love In Vitro’s studded panties.”
Camacho also liked the chunky gold necklaces with name or phrase pendants from Super Fox accessories from Brooklyn, the gold stretch belts from 126 Showroom and Nova’s cut-and-sewn line.
Dee Gratz, better misses’ sportswear buyer for Doneger Fashion Merchandising here, was taken with the casual tone of various lines and the abundance of artisan looks, which she said were a “great big category” for her.
“I saw more items such as the big shirt; lots more items with a casual feeling — knitwear, Tencel and rayon,” she said.
She said a standout line was Gett, a California resource primarily known for wools, but showing a group of linens. Another notable California line, according to Gratz, was Sharyn Brower, an “understated” resource with items in Tencel and rayon. Gratz also liked Rosey of Allentown, Pa., a more “novelty” line with mixtures of rayon with Tencel and sweater knits with georgette flower treatments.
“I thought it was a good show, with a great mix,” she said. “I saw a lot of our Southern and Midwest stores there.”

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