EARLY THAW FOR SPRING COATS
Byline: Julee Greenberg
NEW YORK — The fall-winter coat season was one of the best in many years, and has given vendors and merchants reason to believe a real spring season will be realized.
Trenches, leather jackets and coats, and rainwear bookings were leaders for spring and retailers report the response from consumers has been positive, so far.
Never as big a business as fall, spring coats had virtually disappeared from many stores in the early- to mid-Nineties. But in recent years, they made a comeback, thanks to product innovation and lifestyle dressing.
Judy Collinson, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Barneys New York, said outerwear has been selling well and that leather and trenches are the strongest categories.
“We are doing very well with lightweight cashmere coats,” Collinson said. “We are doing strong business with leather coats from various designers and also from our own label, and to a certain extent, rainwear has been strong.”
Nordstrom is also seeing spring coat movement throughout the stores.
Calvin Klein’s wheat-colored jacket in a rubberized cotton nylon and Donna Karan Signature’s black leather zip-front jacket are two bestsellers for the store, while Armani Collezioni’s black matte trench jacket and black techno-gabardine short trench have been early standouts.
“There are customers who come into the store and ask for particular coats that were seen on the runway for spring,” said Terry Thornton, associate divisional merchandise manager for coats and furs at Neiman Marcus.
While there are those runway-conscious customers at Neiman Marcus, Michelle DuPuis, a buyer for Henri Bendel, said her customers like to shop for items similar to what’s on the runway, but not usually the exact item.
“It’s all about ads,” she said. “Whatever customers see in ads in magazines or newspapers, that is what they want.”
Best-selling spring coats in the store have come in a variety of styles, DuPuis said, but the Burberry name is always a customer favorite.
“Burberry is our number one seller for coats right now,” she said. “We put them out early, and after the first week on the floor, I was placing reorders.”
DuPuis said that while the classic Burberry check-printed items are always popular, anything with the Burberry name is selling.
“I am seeing customers taking an interest in linings,” she said. “Burberry also have a great gingham print. All of these items are blowing out of the store, and it’s so early.”
Also doing well for the store in spring coats are items from Drizzle, Andrew Marc and Frye. “Anything from Frye always does well,” DuPuis said.
“We have had amazing results with our assortment of spring coats at Saks Fifth Avenue,” said Bill Lynch, senior vice president, gmm. “Our sell-through for vendors such as Burberry, Hillary Radley and Barbour has been particularly phenomenal.”
Lynch said color is important for spring coats, with reds and greens being the most popular.
“The coats are clean-cut and in luxe fabrics,” he said. “We are seeing an emergence of coats with an English feel to them for spring 2001.”
Whether it is quilting, an interesting buckle or a colored or patterned lining, Lynch said the Saks customer has responded well to the attention to detail.
“Some customers will ask for a specific coat from the catwalk, while others are looking for something runway-inspired,” he said. Lynch also pointed out that there is “a segment of customers that are looking for a classic coat that will take them into next season.”
Lynch said he saw some great coats come down the runways for fall 2000, and he is sure that spring 2001 coat sales will continue to perform at Saks.
“Our customer responded well to the newness, especially the back-belted or fitted coat,” he said. “From what we have seen so far for spring, we expect another excellent season of coat sales.”