CAUTION WINS AT WWIN
Byline: Katherine Bowers
LAS VEGAS — Conservative buying, yes. Conservative styling, no.
That was the consensus at last week’s Women’s Wear in Nevada Show at the Rio Hotel among the buyers attending, who said that while they planned to cut spending by 10 to 20 percent, they were still shopping for luxe styles.
Gucci-inspired designs with glittery Lurex threading, fur-collared sweaters and coats, crystals and luxurious texture topped buyers’ shopping lists.
Specialty store buyers said they were planning to navigate economic uncertainty by making small, initial purchases and then reordering strong sellers. But reorders can be risky, retailer Elaine Sarko from The Sweater Counter in Scottsdale, Ariz., pointed out. “Manufacturers are cutting to order. They’re being extremely conservative, which is limiting to us.”
Sarko, whose open-to-buy was down 20 percent from last year, chose tiny, puckered T-shirts that stretch into lightweight, full-sized tops, as well as separates in avocado and warm orange, rust and camel.
Styles that have been popular in the contemporary market recently — such as coat-length cardigan sweaters and sheer, ruffled blouses — were successfully reinterpreted for the misses’ and plus-sized customer.
Turkish label Angel offered the coat cardigan in a trapeze silhouette instead of its body-wrapping contemporary look, while Los Angeles label Palisades took the peekaboo out of gauzy, ruffled wrap blouses by offering them lined with a floral second layer.
Some styles, such as fur vests, needed no explanation.
“For the little Zsa Zsa [Gabor] in all of us,” joked Sandra Stutz, owner of Fancy Ladies in Norfolk, Va., who picked up several white fake fur vests.
Karyn Vajner, owner of the Twinsburg, Ohio-based catalog Art and Artifacts, said she has been asking for bat-wing sleeves on every dress she’s ordered and praised WWIN exhibitors for being flexible with small-lot custom orders.
This type of boutique service has been one of the show’s selling points, said show organizer Jeff Yunis, walking the floor with a basket of “conversation heart” candies on Valentine’s Day. WWIN sold out for the second time at the Rio, with more than 500 exhibitors taking 80,000 square feet. Buyer attendance was at 3,000 as of the second day, but Yunis said he expected the number to be slightly down from the show’s August totals because of fears of an economic slowdown.
“All the doom and gloom on television — it has to have an effect,” he said. “Some people just decided to stay home.”