NOVELTY APPROACH TO HOLIDAY

Byline: ALICE WELSH

NEW YORK — Knit manufacturers reported increases in holiday orders averaging 15 to 20 percent over last year’s results.
Smaller proportions, body-conscious styles, color and mohair were the key qualities that led to sweater bookings for holiday, according to manufacturers. The most successful styles included fitted T-shirts, cropped cardigans and long-sleeve tunics.
“The smaller silhouette is important for holiday and will continue to be,” said designer Adrienne Vittadini. “Yarns like mohair and bouclÄ work best in the shorter styles because the yarn’s bulkiness does not adapt well to a longer tunic.”
Hillary Anzis, designer for Belford Knits, said, “We are doing best with styles that feature either newness in silhouette or newness in yarns, or both. Belford may be known as a classic house, but we have really focused on novelty this holiday.”
Nancy Boskin, designer for Erik Stewart, believes mohair was strong because “although everybody may have done it, our mohair has very clean bodies and is in wearable pastels, not fussy like some mohair out there.”
“Smaller silhouettes were much stronger this season, especially at our more fashion-forward stores, but we still do a big business in looser styles because not everyone can wear a cropped fitted look,” explained Denise Danuloff, designer for 525 Made in America.
Color was a dominant factor in holiday orders, said vendors. Brights were the strongest, followed by pastels, silver and gold.
“There were two important color stories this season: brights and pastels, depending on the yarn,” said designer Mary Jane Marcasiano. “The furry textures, chenille and peluche looked very new in bright colors, especially when paired with shiny wovens, and the pale colors play off the softness of mohair. Scarlet, ruby and violet were really strong for us.”
“After seasons of navy, black and beige, people are ready for color,” said Luigi Leonardi, executive vice president of M.A.C. USA, distributor of the Malo cashmere line. “Our major thrust for holiday-resort is color, with hues like pumpkin, geranium and lemon.”
“Color, color, color is essential; everyone commented on it,” said Vittadini. “Color has made a tremendous impact, especially with the yarns we used like mohair.”
Vittadini’s holiday bookings were up 10 to 15 percent over last year.
The most successful holiday styles were a mango cable mohair cardigan, wholesaling at $87.50, and a matching tank top at $37.50. Some 1,000 sets were booked. Close to another thousand bright pink ribbed A-line tunics were booked at $80.
Other top performers were a turquoise lambswool angora blend short-sleeved turtleneck at $45 with a matching cropped cardigan at $105, with 1,600 sets ordered.
In silk knit, Vittadini had over a thousand orders booked for a pastel short-sleeved fitted sweater at $42.50 with a matching elongated cardigan for $105.
At Karen Kane, a better-price knit resource, the top seller was a long-sleeved stretch knit lace T-shirt in black or white. Four thousand units were ordered at $32.
Lisa McCarthy, vice president of sales for Karen Kane, believes the shirt was so popular “because it has a modesty panel, a fabric liner under the lacy layer.”
“That’s perfect for people who want the open-lace feel, but don’t want to expose too much or deal with layering,” she said.
Other top performers at Karen Kane included a fitted cotton knit T-shirt with little rosettes around the neck in black, cream and white. This shirt was $32, and 3,000 units were ordered.
“This is a great item for fourth quarter. It’s a perfect gift-giving piece people will pick up for the novelty and digestible price point,” said McCarthy.
Karen Kane’s holiday sales were flat compared with last year because the company sold to fewer doors this season.
The company also did well with merino wool dressing, booking 2,500 cardigans at $94 and 2,500 21-inch skirts at $48. The separates were offered in black and royal, but royal was stronger, McCarthy said.
Top holiday performers at Mary Jane Marcasiano were a three-gauge chenille cropped style in black and alfalfa at $105, with 300 units ordered; 200 units of a chenille mandarin collar cropped jacket in scarlet for $115, and 100 units of a peluche cropped sweater in ruby and violet, for $125.
To date, holiday sales at Marcasiano are even with last year.
At 525 Made in America, holiday bestsellers included a V-neck cropped baby cardigan in pale pink mohair with bright tweed slubs for $64, with 1,000 units booked; a mock turtleneck cropped pullover in bright rayon chenille at $34, with 1,500 ordered, and a cable V-neck tunic in mohair chenille, with 840 ordered at $65.
Holiday sales at 525 are up 15 percent over last year.
At Michael Simon, an ornamented handembroidered sweater resource, holiday is a strong season.
“We did very well in three categories of holiday sweaters: Christmas theme styles, ‘memorabilia’ styles and our dressier sweaters,” said Sharon Roberts, national sales manager.
Orders were up 45 percent over last year’s due to an earlier selling season and a significant increase in offerings, explained Roberts.
To date, 5,000 units were ordered of a snowflake design classic cardigan, priced at $98. Some 4,500 units of a $124 cropped cardigan were booked, and 3,800 units of a fitted multicolor sweater with a rounded collar wholesaling, for $118, were ordered.
At Erik Stewart, most holiday orders were for a rayon Lurex silver or gold sleeveless tank at $32, worn with a V-neck waist-length cardigan at $36 wholesale and three mohair bodies in pastels ranging from $45 for a crewneck cropped sweater to $60 for a pearl button-front cardigan. Merchandiser Karen Strauss reported that holiday sales were up 20 percent over last year’s.
Malo will not open holiday until August, but Leonardi predicts bestsellers will be a four-ply cashmere style in a bright hue, for $300 to $400 wholesale and a cashmere cable cardigan from $400 to $500.
“At Christmas, people generally have looser pockets and they are willing to invest more dollars in a luxury cashmere piece,” said Leonardi.

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