Five-pocket jeans continue to dominate the market, but there has been increasing momentum in sales of novelty and denim items, according to a spot check of department stores and specialty denim stores in key cities. In relatively warmer climates — parts of California and Dallas — that meant shortalls and shorts, while in New York and the Midwest, overalls and short A-line skirts are checking.

NEW YORK: At Macy’s East, associate fashion director Denise Boineau said that in Florida stores, denim shortalls from Squeeze and short skirts in the wrap and two-button styles from California Concept are bestsellers.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, which recently expanded its contemporary fifth floor and added new denim resources, the Moschino denim line has had high sell-throughs, according to a store spokeswoman.
Bestsellers include a denim group printed with a Mona Lisa motif. The jeans, at $155, have had an 84 percent sell-through, while for an oversized shirt at $185 and a vest at $100, sell-throughs were 91 percent and 93 percent, respectively.
Basic jeans in the CK Calvin Klein jeanswear line have sold over 4,000 units at $78.
Saks brought the California resource A. Gold E. to the flagship for the first time last fall and will roll it out to all branches for spring, said the spokeswoman. A blue denim shirt and wider leg jeans, at $118 and $98, respectively, have had 42 percent sell-throughs.
In the DKNY line, a short wrap skirt for $95, a four-pocket jacket at $165 and a tie-back overall dress at $115 have each had sell-throughs of more than 50 percent.

MIDWEST: “The hottest and fastest selling thing I had during the holidays was overalls by Squeeze,” said Jean Sumrall, junior denim buyer for Milwaukee-based Carson Pirie Scott. The $38 item had a 50 percent sell-through in its introductory week, with 400 units sold.
At Faith Couture in Royal Oak, Mich., buyer and manager Amy Charles reported that the “London Slim” cut from Edwin jeans is the bestseller in her contemporary shop. The five-pocket, tapered-leg sandblasted style retails for $72.
Diesel’s five-pocket, boy-cut jeans is the top denim item at Wear in Good Health, a contemporary women’s shop in Chicago. The faded antique wash jeans sell for $98.

CALIFORNIA: At Mervyn’s, Hayward, Calif., shortalls and scooters from Levi’s, Bongo and Union Bay are bestsellers, with prices ranging from $21.99 to $29.99.
At the Grocery Store, which has units in San Francisco and Burlingame, Calif., shrunken denim shirts from Big Star are the top seller, at $99.99.

DALLAS: At Neiman Marcus, denim business is ahead of last year by less than 5 percent, according to Deborah Kaplan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for leisure sportswear.
CK Calvin Klein’s jeans and denim items such as jackets and vests are bestsellers, along with Agnelli’s relaxed-fit, high-waist jeans.
“Easy fit — but not baggy — continues to get the predominant interest from customers,” said Kaplan.
Styles cut from Tencel denim, including dresses and fitted shirts, also are generating big business at Neiman’s. Top vendors include David Dart, Democracy and Neiman’s private label.
“Tencel denim is not so structured,” said Kaplan. “It’s soft and flows really well.”

SOUTH: At Parisian, short A-line skirts from Guess at $44 are a bestseller at its 19 units. According to Arlene Goldstein, fashion director for the Birmingham, Ala.- based stores, “Anything short and denim is selling. Those are the two watchwords.”
At Canyon, a denim specialty store at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, five-pocket jeans from Diesel and Big Star are the bestsellers, with prices ranging from $100 to $132.
Sheila Kamensky, fashion director for Rich’s in Atlanta, said junior denim bestsellers for early spring are Levi’s 550 relaxed fit jeans at $39.99, CK’s five-pocket sandblasted jeans at $48 and logo T-shirt at $20, a sarong scooter skirt from Steel Jeans at $28, and embroidered denim shorts from Rio at $26.