NEWNESS, VARIETY KEY AT SAF

Byline: Georgia Lee

MIAMI — This year’s Swimwear Association of Florida’s Cruise ’95 show offered newness, variety and novelty looks, while drawing a record number of retailers who came ready to buy.
Open-to-buy budgets were up by 10 to 20 percent at the show, which ran from July 16 through Friday at the Miami International Merchandise Mart.
Attendance totaled 891 buyers, a 20 percent increase over last year’s traffic.
“It’s the largest show we’ve ever had,” said Mike Chitoff, chairman of the board of SAF and executive vice president of Undercover Beachwear. “We’ve sought out new vendors from new categories such as large-size and maternity.”
Organizers pointed out that the event, which originally targeted Florida retailers, has expanded in scope over the last 10 years. This year it drew buyers from as far away as New York, Canada and the Western U.S.
Exhibitors totaled 108, compared with 87 last year.
Retailers praised the market for addressing their needs of good fit, color and attention to detail.
Buyers responded to the following trends:
Surface interest and textured fabrications, such as chenille, woven looks and metallic foils.
Lingerie influences, in lace, mesh and sheer treatments, as well as bras with removable push-up pads and underwires.
Athletic-inspired looks, including stripes; racer backs; gray, silver and metallic fabrics, and sporty coverups.
Small floral country prints or exotic ethnic-inspired patterns.
A scattering of brights and neon colors, particularly in juniors.
Tummy control and other slimming features from more vendors.
Retailers, especially Florida stores, reported a rebound in business over the past year and budgeted their buying accordingly.
“It’s been a great year for swimwear,” said Lynne Greene, owner of The Sunshine Shop, a swimwear specialty shop in St. Augustine, Fla. “Tourism has picked up in Florida resort areas this year.”
Greene said she chalked up a 32 percent sales increase for 1993 and shopped at the show with a budget increased 20 percent. After spending five full days at the show, Greene called it “intense and growing. It’s a great gear-up for the [new buying] season,” she said.
Greene, who carries 62 lines, described Gottex, one of her staple brands, as having “great themes and innovative fabrics,” as well as a new direction toward a more contemporary, younger market.
In addition, Greene bought basic silhouettes with textures and embellishments from La Blanca, and fashion-forward looks for the junior customer from Mossimo and Shapes.
Coni Sutter, owner of The Beach House of Naples, with two locations in the Florida city, shopped with a slightly increased budget. “The market is strong and I’m very happy,” she said. “There are so many vendors struggling for their piece of the pie that they’re all trying to make a statement, which is good for us.”
Sutter said she bought from a wide variety of resources, including dependable brands such as Gottex, Baja Blue, Calvin Klein and Mossimo. She said she noticed an increase in the number of functional suits with more fashion interest, as well as a plethora of urban streetwear and activewear looks.
“Everybody wants to look like they are coming from or going to exercise class,” she said. “That trend is evident in swimwear and coverups.”
Sutter bought tone-on-tone and tapestry-inspired looks, velvet, mesh and burned-out textured Lycra spandex fabrications, as well as new silver colorations in prints and solids. “The technology-driven fabrics have brought so much excitement to the market,” she said.
Sue Gorman, swimwear buyer for Jacobson’s, which has 10 Florida locations, shopped with a budget increased by 5 percent. She described the designer market as “excellent,” with new looks from Gottex, Gideon Oberson and Pilpel.
“Designer resources complemented each other, with great new color directions of green, turquoise and crimson, as well abstract ethnic prints,” she said.
Gorman said she ordered sophisticated textured looks from a variety of misses’ resources. “Everybody offered great texture,” she said. “The customer has now accepted a textured suit as the new basic solid.”
Gorman said that with the exception of Sirena and Sessa, the market had turned away from true nautical looks, which always sell well in Florida.
Patti Vicari, store manager for The Palm Tree and Boca Breeze, two swim- and sportswear boutiques located in the Boca Raton Resort and Club, said the show looked better than in recent years, with manufacturers offering good basics as well as novelty looks.
Vicari bought cut-out novelty silhouettes from Karla Colletto. She also ordered new pastels, in addition to a neutral palette that included Calvin Klein’s herringbone checks.
Although Vicari sees solids as her mainstay, she also bought exotic Egyptian and Indian prints from Gottex.
Vicari pointed to a preponderance of bare looks, including a return to string bikinis in the junior and contemporary markets. “Our South American customers love bare looks,” she said, “while Americans want the illusion of bareness with more coverage.”

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