DRESSES: A MATERIAL FOCUS
Byline: Dianne M. Pogoda
NEW YORK — Fabric is shaping up as the key element in summer dresses.
Most vendors say the emphasis on simplicity in silhouettes is casting a spotlight on texture and surface interest. Some are launching new lines, with a focus on a new fabric or new price, to spark spring sales.
Dressmakers are bringing spring/summer to WWD/MAGIC, for deliveries as late as May 30. They will show some transition and early fall, but said stores are ordering close to need and often require immediate deliveries of fill-in items.
Casual and business casual are the driving force behind growth in Jerell Inc.’s dress sales, said Sam Klapholz, vice president and national sales manager of the Dallas-based firm.
Jerell is launching a new line — 1431, a moderate label that retails between $59 and $79 — to complement its Melissa brand, which is aimed at specialty stores and retails for $100 to $120.
“We’re very excited about the casual revolution, because it gives a woman a new reason to buy a dress,” he said.
Klapholz cited heavily laundered denim and twill, with very soft hands, and combinations of wovens and knits as key fabric treatments.
“Anything with surface interest is very important,” he said.
As for silhouette, he said unfitted A-line and Empire styles are doing well, but the company is doing terrific business with shirtwaists.
‘These really hit a nerve in the market,” said Klapholz. “They aren’t old-looking dresses, though. They’re modern, like the Ann Taylor style with double needlework, or military style with epaulets and great belts, in French cotton twill.”
He also said the layered look was important, with vests over knit and woven dresses — “a twinset over a dress.”
Mica is launching a new garment-washed denim group in its dress collections for spring, according to owner Judy Rabineau.
“They’re sweet, sexy little dresses in similar silhouettes to what we do in other fabrics, like rayon — halters, long fitted jumpers, sleeveless sheaths,” she said.
Mica will take orders for May deliveries at WWD/MAGIC, for the last of spring/summer. Rabineau said retailers expect quick turn on goods, and everyone is cutting very close to need.
Other key fabrics are shantung, rayon crepe pastel velvets, georgette and a printed rayon pique, which resists wrinkles and has been getting a strong reception.
The dresses are “cool and hip, but not junior-y,” she said, noting there are many women in their mid-to-late 40s who want youthful style, but don’t want to look as if they are dressing like their daughters.
She said prints are booking well, including bright novelty themes like fruits, random-placed florals or conversationals.
Kami Rehanian, president and designer of High Point, which makes day and evening dresses, said styles are “not gaudy” and fabric is the key element in spring style.
“From misses’ to juniors, women are looking for simple style, with less embellishment and embroidery,” he said. “It’s the same trend that’s happening in Europe. Women want something they can wear to many places, too, not just to the office.”
Rehanian said suitings, especially pantsuits, and short skirts are leading choices for spring. He said triacetates, rayons, silk and linen blends and Lurex metallics are among the hot fabrics, which is where the fashion statement is made.
Jodi Schaff, owner of On Your Back, said basics — some with trim — and layers are key for the casual knit dresses she’s making for spring. The Doylestown, Pa.-based company is essentially a T-shirt maker, with dresses accounting for 20 percent of its business. Dresses, however, is a growing category, she said.
One key style is a tie-back jumper with an easy fit that suits many bodies. The fabric is either combed cotton or a blend of cotton and Lycra spandex. Colors, from basics like black, red, navy and ecru, to novelties like aqua, rose and chamois in overdyed heather jersey, are especially important.
Schaff said she will take orders for immediate delivery through May on spring/summer goods she’s bringing to WWD/MAGIC.
“Money is scarce, and stores are ordering much closer to season,” she said.
Simplicity is the buzzword at Brasseur/Davinci, said Danny Golshan, national sales manager of the Los Angeles-based ready-to-wear maker. The firm will show suits and dresses for spring/summer.
“We do basic styles, not too trendy, in large and misses’ sizes,” he said.
The collection features embroidered suits with three or four-button jackets, and one- and two-piece dresses at $79 to $150 wholesale. Button treatments include metal and rhinestones, while lengths are mostly long, he said. Fabrics include linen, polyester crepe and triacetate.
Absolute Lee-Global Wear
Angelheart Designs Inc.
Biel Bonne, Potato Clothing
Brett Sales Inc.
Camp David Carol Turner Collection (CTC)
Chorus Line International
Cottonangora Trading Co.
Depart at Creative Concepts
Design by Margot Ltd.
Design by Pat Argenti
Deviations Dress In Peace
DUO Wear Inc.
Elmora Fashion Inc.
Faliza, Inc. dba “Atria” – “Sexia”
Far Away Imports
Gail Garner Designs
I. Appel Corporation
Ice Cube by Michael
India Bali Imports
Indus Imports Inc.
International Trends Inc.
JK Int’l/Casual Studio
Jeffrey & Me, Red Alert
Karen Kane Inc.
LH Gadodia & Son (P) Ltd.
Laus Apparel Inc.
Lazy Daisy Inc.
Linda Lundstrom Ltd.
Louise Paris Ltd. & Highway
MC Squared Sportswear Inc.
M&S Collections Inc.
Magazine Clothing Co. Inc.
Marshall & Gilster Inc.
Mia & Co.
On Your Back
Papillon Eastern Imports Inc.
Penikam Vogue Collections
Prime Time Sportswear (NY) Inc.
Pueblo Spirit Collection
RTW Apparel inc.
Rampage Clothing Co.
Romeo Romeo/Georgi Porgie
Santa Cruz Fashions
Select Clothing Co. Inc.
Showmart/Joes/NC Love/Danielle Dahan
Silk by JCE
Silko Fashions Inc.
Silver Moon Creations
Sparkling Int’s Inc.
Star of India/Nostalgia
Sunset Rose Clothing Company
Teensy Weensy USA Ltd. Div of Comme-Ci Comme-Ca
Top Rock/Private Dander
Two One Two Fashions Inc.
Woodlands Sportswear Inc.
X&R By Marcella Calva