Byline: Kristin Young / Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — With the mercury lounging in the mid-to-high 70s of late, summer seems to have made an early entrance here, as buyers set out for market this week.
According to a spot check, contemporary retailers hitting the summer market, which starts Friday and runs through Jan. 16, said they will snap up low-slung pants, Eighties-style blouses, flowing dresses and denim anything.
Buyers are hot on accessories, too, specifically charm necklaces, studded belts and brightly colored handbags.
Colors overall will be more subdued than in seasons past, they said, noting interest in neutrals and soft pastels.
Economic jitters emerging now, in fact, are prompting many retailers to avoid riskier trends.
“I’m a little nervous,” admitted Rebecca Fogg, owner of Les Deux Copaines, a better designer boutique in San Francisco. She’s eyeing black-and-white color combinations, and feminine-printed dresses and blouses. “I’m definitely going more streamlined and staying clear of lines that are on the trendy side.”
That said, Fogg maintains that no matter the state of the economy, women love to shop. “I don’t think that activity is going anywhere.”
Helen Hwang, owner of Yellow in Los Angeles, will be on the hunt for HotPants in rainbow colors, chunky silver jewelry and flowing dresses and tops. “It looks as if blousy, off-the-shoulder tops with bat-wing sleeves will be really hot,” she said, noting she will buy them in white. Like Fogg, Hwang said black-and-white color schemes will lead the season — perhaps a reference to the black-and-white theme in Tom Ford’s debut collection for Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear.
Beige, another forward, better contemporary boutique here, will carry suede, cotton trousers, lightweight denim pieces and Forties-inspired ruched separates. But the Beverly Boulevard shop will not abandon fashion-forward items in favor of safer classics. “Our store works because we do have the trendy stuff or things that are different,” said partner Kelly Peterson. “Style is individualism.”
The store plans to stock the Frankie B. denim dress, polo shirts and “off-the-shoulder Eighties” tops.
At Blue, yet another color-named shop here, owner Gabrielle Zuccaro is on a search for blousons with bat wings and slit sleeves, flared pants and knee-length, A-line skirts.
But summer, she said, will be about the dress.
“I’m looking for feminine, flowy, Forties-inspired, and backless with ruching and slits in sexy places.” The Blue summer palette: yellow, rust, chocolate, shades of green and earth tones.
And Zuccaro will continue to reorder charm necklaces and bracelets in gold.
“Skirts will be very strong in summer from short to knee-length,” said Harriet Sustarsic, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of Charlotte Russe. She expects that sexy sundresses and feminine, flowing dresses will also do well, along with knit tops, one-shoulder surplus wraps, tube tops, cropped denim and accessories.
“Strategically, we won’t do anything different [in buys for summer],” she said. “We don’t have a reason not to be optimistic at this point.”
Nordstrom, meanwhile, will shop for logo Ts, Eighties trends, floral prints, cropped fitted sweaters and new denim washes.
On the manufacturing side, contemporary designers are banking on jumpsuits, HotPants, low-rise denim bottoms in different washes or white, graphic T-shirts, Forties-inspired dresses and military flavor to carry the day.
In the contemporary market, color, prints and retro dresses will be top summer hits, according to Sandy Richman, a principal in the Directives West buying office in the CaliforniaMart.
“One of the biggest issues continues to be a kaleidoscope of color,” Richman said. “The second biggest is print: dots, stripes, plaids, geometrics, abstracts and pop florals. The dress business has been so tough. But everyone is getting on a retro bandwagon, which is dominated by prints and is Forties inspired. It’s old Hollywood elegance.”
Shelli Segal of Laundry by Shelli Segal echoes that there is “a Fifties feeling going on.” She offers feminine dresses, full skirts and fitted bodices in her summer line, cut from polished cottons, embroidered meshes and sheers. But Segal is also counting on military and camouflage.
T-shirts — graphically driven and embellished — show no signs of fading from the radar. Joomi Lim of Joomi Joolz is focusing on embellished tanks in distressed gold foil and nail heads for summer.
Not afraid of color, Lim will also infuse her summer line with fuchsia, turquoise, bronze and iridescents, as well as tie-dye.
“I am doing more girly silhouettes in rayon soft fabrics,” Lim said. “I want to go after the girls who wear Earl jeans and Theory because my sexy tops are a perfect match.”
Denim as a perfect partner to all other trends will also continue to explode. Frankie B. designing founder Daniela Clark is a big believer in white denim for summer. One of her most anticipated styles is a white denim jumpsuit.
But patchwork denim is also key. Always pushing the edge of her silhouettes to precarious depths (her three-inch inseam was at the forefront of the recent low-slung revolution), Clark will be unveiling a patchwork denim halter dress “with the Frankie B. butt cleavage.”

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