COTERIE ACTION BODES WELL FOR FALL
Byline: Melanie Kletter
NEW YORK — Although the leaves haven’t yet burgeoned for spring, buyers were ordering briskly for fall at the Fashion Coterie show, which ended its three-day run on Tuesday.
Among the looks most in demand were warm-weather items, including leather and sweaters, as well as denim and suede fabrics. Key trends were camouflage prints, men’s-wear-inspired looks, and T-shirts in a plethora of shapes and styles. Eighties looks such as wide belts and studded pants were also in large supply, and vintage influences could be seen in a number of new collections.
Many retailers said they were feeling more upbeat about sales for early spring, following a generally difficult fall and winter selling season.
“It has been a long winter and people are ready for spring,” said Ann Adams, owner of Christin Woods, a high-end boutique in Pittsburgh.
Nonetheless, Adams said, some of her spring deliveries hadn’t yet arrived, making it difficult for customers to get in on the spring action.
While an economic slowdown may be on the horizon, most retailers didn’t seem too concerned about that, or at least they were putting their fears aside as they hunted for trends.
Vanessa Palente, a buyer at Rhythm Clothiers, a boutique in West Palm Beach, Fla., said she was on the lookout for contemporary items, as well as accessories such as belts.
“Everyone is into vintage right now,” she said. “We are selling rock ‘n’ roll looks to all ages, not just young people.”
Palente and store owner Gerry Novoa said they were particularly impressed with the new offerings from Rebecca Danenberg, who produces under the label Danenberg Castro.
Suzy Romick, owner of Suzy’s, a better women’s boutique in Findlay, Ohio, said she was looking primarily for items to help boost her fall offerings and was also scouting some pieces for immediate delivery. Among the looks she had bought into for fall were denim jackets and citron-green apparel, as well as accessories from Avant De Dormir.
“My customers are in the Midwest and are a little on the conservative side, but they still want fashion,” she said.
Produced by ENK Productions, Fashion Coterie showcases a cross-section of the markets, including accessories and shoe companies, designer firms and contemporary sportswear labels.
Wayne Rogers, the contemporary firm known for its fitted tops, saw interest in sweaters with fur treatments, such as a cardigan with a detachable raccoon collar and a jacket with a generous supply of fur trim.
“The retail mood has been very positive,” said Ginesse Spiegelman, a sales executive with the company. “The retailers that are here are here to write.”
Wayne Rogers also showed a number of fitted bodysuits, as well as lace-up bottoms and fitted blazers.
Body Action Design, or BAD, the company that made its mark with logo sweatshirts during the Eighties, showed a new line under the label Jeffrey by Jeffrey Halpern.
“I wanted to start a higher-price line to target retailers I am not in with BAD,” said Halpern, the company’s president and design director. “We have better fabrics and we are appealing to more design-conscious customers.”
BAD carries wholesale prices of $28 to $54, while the Jeffrey line has prices ranging from $48 to $145, according to Halpern. Among the key offerings for the Jeffrey collection are lightweight wool bottoms, nylon and rayon skirts, imitation suede items and some denim looks. The collection, which ships for fall, also includes some knit tops and item pieces such as a striped top with metallic highlights. The bulk of the production is done domestically.
ABS by Allen Schwartz saw action in its Allen by ABS line, which carries slightly higher price points and caters to independent boutiques and specialty stores.
“We have seen a big response to novelty items, such as denim with caviar beading, corduroy and prints,” said Lloyd Singer, president of sales for the company.
Singer said many buyers were “cautious” until January, but were now “happier to see vendors.”
In the core ABS line, top-booking looks were suspender pants and other men’s-wear-inspired offerings. Some retailers scooped up immediate items for spring, such as cropped pants and printed bottoms, Singer said.
Velvet, a contemporary sportswear line, focused on tops in some new fabrics, including a washable suede and wool and rayon blend. The two-year-old company, which is best known for its cotton looks, also launched a new line of knits.
While the show focused on fall, a number of firms emphasized their current spring and summer offerings. Michael Stars, the trendy T-shirt firm based in Los Angeles, primarily showed spring and summer looks.
“We prefer to stay close to the season,” said Stars, who also said the company doesn’t plan to veer much from its current emphasis on tops.
The company offers a wide range of T-shirts, including cotton cap-sleeve V necks, open-back halters in shiny blends of cotton and nylon, and polo tops featuring snaps. Among the most sought-after items were camouflage tops in bright colors, said a company spokeswoman.
At the show, the firm did branch out into a new category beyond tops: thong underwear. It also recently has added maternity tops and some items for infants.
Hard Tail, a California sportswear label, saw demand for basic tops and bottoms in a variety of colors. It recently has introduced a new baby-rib Lycra spandex fabric, said a company spokesman.
A few companies showed at Coterie for the first time. Alex Goes, the contemporary line from Quiksilver that launched at retail in January, saw a strong reaction to its fall looks at its first Coterie presentation, said Maria Barnes, brand manager.
Alex Goes is now in about 100 doors — primarily specialty stores and boutiques — and also includes items such as sunglasses and bags, which are all produced in-house. Some key looks from Alex Goes for fall are flared trousers, a polar fleece halter, sweaters with stripes and a reversible quilted jacket.
Frankie B., the hip denim firm, also showed at Coterie for the first time. The company saw interest in lace-up denim and a new patchwork style, as well as in white offerings. The two-year-old line is now sold in more than 400 doors and is considered one of the pioneers of the low-waist denim look now seen throughout the market.
Designer and founder Daniella Clarke, said, “Timing is everything and I happened to fill a need at the right time with my low-waist looks.”