FOLLOWING, A SNEAK PREVIEW OF WHAT’S NEW AND NOTABLE AT THE MART.
MICHELLE HARRISON & ASSOCIATES, 10S119
Launched a year-and-a-half ago, this Dallas-based special occasion mother-of-the-bride line came to Atlanta in October.
Beau Paris offers silhouettes in imported novelty fabrics — including brocade and stretch satin embellished with details like flowers and brooches — for customers 25 and up. The fall collection contains shapely jacket and dress outfits in luxurious wine and gold colors, in a best-selling ultrasuede-like fabric. Wholesale prices range from $129 for a two-piece suit to $199 for an evening gown. Sizes available are 2-14.
With a maximum of 35 pieces per season, Beau Paris is a focused line, small enough to respond quickly to the needs of its specialty-store customers, said Bruce Krull, part owner of the collection’s representing firm, Weissman Krull.
Although the recent suit trend boosted the line’s recognition factor, Krull said that Beau Paris also fills a perennial void. “There is a certain customer who needs this kind of clothing for weddings, bar mitzvahs and afternoon events,” he said. “Very few lines end up doing the kind of suiting we’ve maintained.”
CORNUCOPIA ACCESSORIES, 8W122
With the first half of its name meaning “butterfly,” in Spanish, Mariposa Designs reinforces the motif with signature butterfly charms attached to the clasps of precious and semiprecious necklaces and bracelets.
The Fairhope, Ala.-based firm began in 1999 when owner Cissy Bacon made her jewelry-making hobby a full-time effort, leading to her January debut at the apparel mart. Targeting a range of customers including teenagers and senior citizens, Mariposa has both a trendy and classic appeal; silhouettes include seven-strand and 15 1/2-inch single-strand pearl necklaces with gold and silver accents, link necklaces set in sterling silver wire, and for fall, chunky multistrand necklaces and bracelets in polished silver, studded with stones such as smoky quartz, water sapphire, dark amethyst, and garnet. Wholesale prices range from $15 for earrings to $75 for bracelets and $150 for necklaces.
Bacon’s business derives mainly from her 65 specialty-store accounts, as well as the custom work she does for brides, bridesmaids and trunk shows.
“I would love to have my jewelry in Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus one day, but I’m hesitant about growing too fast and losing the customer service I value — my rapport with customers is as much a friendship as a business relationship,” said Bacon.
Her wholesale sales volume for 2001 is estimated at $250,000.
DON OVERCAST & ASSOCIATES, 10E112
Italian by origin and French by design, contemporary sportswear and special-occasion line Renato Nucci made its debut in Atlanta last October. New York-based Global Apparel Management began importing the 17-year-old collection from Paris in 1995.
Emanuel Fresko, president of the import company, said that he and designer Renato Nucci felt that the collection had undergone all the necessary adjustments to appeal to boutiques and specialty stores in the U.S.
Targeting customers 25-55 years old, the line is available in sizes 2-14 and priced between $62 and $240 wholesale. Best-selling pieces include wool boucle suits with novelty fringe and embroidery and heavily embellished dresses.
For fall, corduroys are mixed with herringbones and wools combined with silks to form slightly retro silhouettes; one group features lambskin pants topped with an embroidered boucle jacket in pastel tones.
Fresko feels that Renato Nucci rises high above the conservative standards set by many other brands.
“Renato always tries to design very feminine and different pieces; nothing is basic. Most companies try not to be too showy or too novelty, which is why we’re unique,” said Fresko.
With the addition of sales representatives in Atlanta and Dallas, the company experienced a 40 percent growth last year. Estimated sales volume for 2001 is $1.3 million wholesale.
WILL’S RIVER COMPANY, 12W124A
Will’s River Company
A division of Cottontail Originals, Will’s River is an outgrowth of a girls’ collection with the same name. After many requests from older customers who saw Cottontail Originals in stores and wanted something like it for themselves, the line’s designers created an adults-only version, which premiered in Atlanta during the January market.
With 45, mainly specialty-store accounts, the contemporary/misses’ line targets women 22-45 years old who are spunky and fashion-conscious, said sales manager Valerie Leggett.
“We try to bring in bits of trends, but our silhouettes are older influence, because we want to have something for everyone,”she said.
The first 100-piece fall delivery is pants driven, with dark denim jeans with gold embroidery and boot- cut animal-print pants in pleather and stretch velveteen. Most of the knit jersey tops have three-quarter-length sleeves and details like fur and beading, while skirts come straight and A-line with geometric and animal prints. Future deliveries will include dresses and more embellished pieces.
Tops are $27-$38, pants are $38-$58 and skirts are $35 wholesale. Important fabrics are pleather, stretch twill and denim.
All pieces are available in sizes 4-14, although fits tend to be generous, said Leggett.
FRANK NEFF, 12S351
Formerly known as Zahra, this recent arrival to Frank Neff has expanded from its mother-of-the-bride beginnings to include a contemporary division for women 25 and older.
Although the line comes in sizes two to 20, executive vice president of the Montreal, Canada-based company, Fred Karassik said that 90 percent of his customers are over size 10 and in need of clothing that reflects current styles.
“Our line is unique because we fit the masses, given the high-end fashion we’re offering. We’re diversified and able to interpret trends to fit the customer without insulting them,” he said.
Rooted in one- and two-piece styling, the fall collection offers several categories: stretch vintage lace dresses, status print shirtdresses, viscose-and-rayon blend skirt and top ensembles and a lightweight day-to-evening group for warm weather dressing. Details include belt treatments on dresses, marabou collars, brooches and leather trim. Wholesale prices range from $40 for a viscose shirtdress to $75 for an embossed jacquard dress. Fabrics are imported from Europe.
O. Suzanne has 350 accounts and is dedicated to specialty-store business. North American sales volume for 2001 is projected at $10 million wholesale.
Stephen Murray & Associates, 11W362B
PJ Salvage, a fashion sleepwear line owned by The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Loomworks Apparel, has given rise to Poppy, a similar division focused on girls and teenagers. The six-month-old collection offers trendy loungewear looks intended for the bedroom, beach and outdoors.
Poppy is designed by a team of three and manufactured outside the U.S., allowing for specialized details such as an engineered border design on pants. Each delivery yields a healthy spectrum of fashion-forward prints, the latest of which are floral, status and camouflage-inspired patterns.
Available in sizes XS-L, fall silhouettes have a loose fit and come in flannel, satin and knit fabrics; they include long-sleeved knit tops, drawstring and elasticized lounge pants, shorts and cropped shirts in bright colors and neutrals. Wholesale prices range from $7.50 for tank tops, $9 for slippers and $18.50 for pajama sets.
With very little competition in its category, Poppy should have about 500 specialty-store accounts by fall, said President Peter Burke.
“I believe we have a good chance because no one’s doing fashion sleepwear — it can be worn at sleepovers, around the house, or on the street, and we expect it will cross over to an audience beyond our target market,” he said.
AMBROSIA & CO, 9N104
The result of designer Sylvia Lee’s intensive study of couture at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parson’s School of Design and of her apprenticeships with various designers, Zion is a day-to-evening suit and dress line created with the power woman in mind (think Leeza Gibbons and Mary Hart). The New York-based bridge/contemporary collection was launched in 1990 for customers between 30-60 years in fields like law, broadcast journalism and entertainment .
Zion combines flattering tailoring with novelty details, said marketing vice president Murray Markowitz. Each season, jackets, bottoms, blouses and knit sweaters are offered in each of 15 groups. All pieces are priced separately to allow for mixing and matching. With fall come tweed, plaid, houndstooth and pinstripe suits and dresses in slimming bias-cut shapes. Available in every fabric, long and short jackets feature details like leather trim at the elbow and collar and pleating on sleeves. Dresses, which increase this season, are asymmetrical with accentuated waistlines. Skirts include bias-cut, pleat-front, A-line and tapered silhouettes. The line wholesales for $75-$175.
Zion has 350 accounts with specialty and department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Sales volume for 2001 is projected at $6 million.
AL & ROZ PIVNICK, 11S333
Mel & Lisa
This casual bridge line focuses on a St. John-like customer in a resort or country-club setting. Based in New York City, the six-year-old collection includes year-round related separates in dyed-to-match tops and bottoms.
As head of the former Levante Blouses collection, owner/designer Mel Katz became acquainted with his target customer as item-driven lines gave way to emerging bridge business during the early Eighties. Mel & Lisa was launched to fulfill the demands of the changing market.
“Today’s misses’ customer is much more current than she used to be, so we’re going in a more contemporary direction while keeping a misses’ cut,” said Katz.
For fall, Mel & Lisa offers silk-and-Lycra blend silhouettes including tunics, cowl-neck tops, twinsets, drawstring pants and straight skirts in rich tones like espresso, merlot, mist and black. Other pieces are silk-and-cashmere blend tops featuring novelty necklines and mink whipstitching, stretch gabardine tops and jackets, and silk charmeuse blouses. Wholesale prices range from $19-$149.
Mel & Lisa has about 500 specialty-store accounts, with other business in department stores and catalogs. Estimated sales volume for 2001 is $5 million wholesale.
TIM PHILBIN ACCESSORIES, 8E112B
Described by Tim Philbin as a “sleeping giant,” Silver Seasons is a gallery jewelry collection offering nature-based forms in 14-karat gold, sterling silver and bronze with semiprecious stones and freshwater pearls.
With names like pussy willow, bonsai and acorn, most groups are cast from the actual plant the design is based on, and each set includes a bracelet, necklace, pin and pair of earrings. The dogwood pieces are bestsellers in the South, said national sales manager Glenn Lipsitz.
The Bellmore, N.Y., collection is the brainchild of jewelry designer Michael Michaud, who combined his love of design and nature when he launched the line in 1994.
“It’s a designer line, like a Robert Lee Morris — it’s much more about a vision by a designer who creates a demand, [instead of following others],” said Lipsitz.
Targeting an upwardly mobile, nature-loving woman between 35 and 55, Silver Seasons wholesales between $20 for earrings and $200 for necklaces.
The brand’s 1,800 national accounts run the gamut from high-end boutiques to museums to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Lipsitz projects an annual growth of 15 percent over last year.
DON OVERCAST & ASSOCIATES, 10E112
The same designer who popularized Jackie O.’s signature look introduces a line of evening separates to Atlanta this month. Under NY-based company Nighforce Inc., the Oleg Cassini collection targets affluent customers 28-50 years old who shop at specialty and major department stores. The new line fills the gap between eveningwear and casualwear, said president Rusty Ruster, formerly of Leslie J. Dresses and Anne Klein Jeans.
“The lifestyle has changed, and women are tired of the 20-pound beaded dress — it’s a sportswear world, so we took sportswear and dressed it up to make it sexy and new,” he said.
Designed by Cassini and manufactured in China, the 100-piece fall collection is bottom driven and mainly composed of stretch novelty fabrics. Silhouettes include boot-cut and straight “evening” jeans in matte jersey and stretch gabardine, fur-trimmed jackets, embellished bustiers, and cocktail dresses of varying lengths.
All prints are from Italy and range from floral to animal patterns. Wholesale prices are $100 to $300.
With a projected sales volume of $10 million for 2001, Ruster is confident in the success of the line.
“We have three things going for us: the innovation of the collection, Oleg Cassini’s name and ability and an experienced staff of professionals,” he said.
DON OVERCAST & ASSOCIATES, 10E112
Chandail Fashion Inc.
This NY-based sweater line has changed its styling to accommodate a more conservative customer. Since its launch last year, the collection has had a contemporary, provocative look, with best-selling styles like the “ace bandage” wrap top, drawing attention from executives of the upcoming Will Smith film “Ali.”
“Customers liked the image, but it was too young, too sexy and unrealistic sizewise,” said Mark Weinberg, vice president of sales and marketing.
For fall, Chandail has bumped up its target age range from 25-35 to 30-45, made its sizing more generous and added signature details.
Design director Andy Yu, previously a private label designer for Nordstrom, brings his experience with wovens to knitwear to give customers more options for novelty sweaters. He travels to Europe four times a year to focus in on meaningful trends, he said.
In rich colors like cherry, cocoa and hunter green, fall silhouettes include cotton turtlenecks with asymmetrical sleeves, vests with fake fur herringbone patterns and several cotton and merino styles with fine leather trim.
For tops baring the back or midriff, layering pieces like tunics and coats are available to serve a variety of taste levels. All yarns are imported from Italy. Wholesale prices range from $60-$80.
Chandail has 800 accounts in fine specialty and department stores. Sales volume for 2001 is estimated at $3 million wholesale.
LOU PIZI, 9W125B
Founded in 1998 by Kraig and Sheila Johnson, Birmingham, Ala.-based Nippits Inc. offers a solution to nipple erection with a sheer, medically approved flesh-colored tape. After testing many designs and adhesive formulas, emergency room physician Johnson and his wife emerged with a small, latex-free product concealing nipples discreetly under eveningwear, clingy knits and even wet swimsuits, said Sheila Johnson.
Wholesaling at $2.50 for a pack of five pairs, Nippits are available in one size and targeted at women 15-55 years old. Many of the brand’s 300 accounts include day spas, bridal shops and high-end boutiques carrying sheer and revealing pieces.
“There was a time when customers would not buy certain clothes because they had nothing to wear them with,” said Sheila Johnson. “We help retailers sell more apparel while solving a big problem for women.”
Since their introduction, Nippits have also resounded with the men’s sportswear market. “Customers have told us that Nippits prevent the chafing and bleeding some men experience while jogging or exercising,” said Johnson.
The Johnsons feel that in the future Nippits could become a household name, overshadowing glue-on cups and pasties that make similar claims.
“Nippits are the revolutionary product that women have been waiting for. They are compact, painless to remove and leave no residue,” said Sheila Johnson.