BUYERS BRINGING FLAT BUDGETS TO N.Y.

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Buyers will be gearing up for summer at the 75th annual International Fashion Boutique Show with budgets that are mostly even with a year ago.
They’ll be looking for casual dresses, sportswear separates and T-shirts at the four-day show, which opens Saturday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Price, as usual, will play an important role for many.
Lisa Williams, buyer for Jackie Chalkley, a three-store chain in Washington, D.C., said she will be on the hunt for apron dresses, sleeveless sheaths and other novelty dresses that wholesale for less than $40.
Eileen Fisher, PA Company, Swept Away, Worlds Apart and Michelle St. John are some of the vendors Williams routinely orders from.
With business slightly ahead of last year, Williams said she planned to spend more at this year’s show.
“We’re looking for impulse-buy items,” she said. “We don’t want any dresses that look too sweet. We’re not into the ‘Little Prince’ look.” Harriet Sheinberg, senior vice president for the Cignal division of Merry Go Round, said her firm will be in search of short and long summer dresses from new resources.
Short skirts and bias cut dresses perform well at Cignal’s 72 stores, she said. NC-Love is an important vendor, she said.
“We go to the show for trendy items. We’re always looking for fashion with a twist,” she said. “We usually don’t know what we want until we get there.”
Sundresses and other casual summer looks are high on the checklist for Thomas Kilareski, an owner of Seaweeds in Cape May, N.J.
He said he will also be seeking cotton and linen sportswear separates for summer and fall from Livingston Williams, Jou Jou and new California resources.
Kilareski said his show budget is even since business is flat compared to a year ago.
CP Shades, Donna Jessica Inc., Eileen Fisher and No Saint are important boutique show sportswear resources for Dianne Fair, who owns two stores called Gabrielle in Rhode Island.
She said she will keep her budget even with last year since sales are flat.
Looking for transitional sportswear such as cotton separates, Fair said she plans to find a few new resources for fast-turn items. She said she is understocked for spring and is anxious to get new merchandise in her stores.
With a show budget 30 percent larger than last year, Brian Nolan, buyer for New York Bodyworks, said the key items on his shopping list included cotton and Lycra spandex shorts, bodysuits and tights. Looking for activewear that doubles as streetwear, he said that Body Alive, YMLA, Tom Tom, California Crazywear and Perfetto are important resources.
Nolan said he will be looking for new resources since the company plans to open a second store, here, before the end of the year.
Grisel Escalera, buyer for Treats International Boutique in New London, Conn., said she is looking for updated dresses and sportswear for plus-size customers. “They have the right to wear everything that’s out there for regular size customers,” she said. “I’m desperately looking for new resources.”

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