Byline: Rebecca Kleinman

January market combines two themes: “Attack of the Killer Eighties, From Preppy to Punk” and “Anything and Everything: It’s Not Just for Prints and Pants Anymore.” Basically, be prepared to witness every decade, color palette, accessory, neckline, and sleeve, skirt and short length. Ironically, there will be less embellishment among this chaotic assortment, with the exception of sporadic Eighties influences like studs.
The “new” embellishment comes in the form of prints, belts and big, “ghetto-fabulous” jewelry. Prints are equally important for summer. But just because many versions are wild — Pucci, Op-Art, geometrics and digital — that doesn’t exclude misses’ customers. Retailers expect to buy more printed bottoms, including shorts, mini and knee-length skirts, and capri and cropped pants. Colored bottoms, even denim, appear more exciting too. Aside from pasty pastels, retailers report being open to a broad spectrum of colors. There’s even some mention of neons again, though many buyers are leery to take the Eighties resurgence that far.
Despite an item-driven market, retailers hope to find a solid variety of dresses from casual to cocktail. They can scrounge enough together while writing their tried-and-true, separates lines, but would prefer companies that specialize in the category.
Accessories continue to be big, both literally and figuratively. In fact, the bigger the better and with the most stuff dangling. Big hoops evolve from plain, clean lines to merely serving as bases for baubles. And both costume and fine jewelry go geometric. Belts are back even stronger, in all sorts of styles including wovens, colored, metal, fabric, wide and thin.

Zoey Rawson, owner, Zoey, West Des Moines, Iowa
“I’m looking for late spring and summer. Color is a definite. Neons are coming back, but I won’t do a lot. I’ll go bright, though.
“Floral prints are important, too. I’ve done at least one from each manufacturer I write. I may write some geometrics, but have to be careful since my age group is 30 to 65 — I can’t go too trendy. All that wild stuff is geared toward youth.
“From what I’ve seen, there are going to be a lot of capris and cropped pants again. I’ll do some in floral prints and some with embellishment around the hem, but for the most part, I like clean, casual lines.
“I’ll also pick up some sophisticated, novelty T-shirts from Blueprint/Z Factory and Eagle’s Eye. It’s easier to buy directly within lines I’m already writing so everything color coordinates.
“We don’t sell suits, shoes or special occasion. I will definitely be looking for little day and sundresses though. Some lines are Kiko, Cut Loose, Amanda Gray and Alywear. “Twenty percent of my store is devoted to accessories. We have lots of jewelry using mixed metals, sterling silver and semiprecious stones. Some lines are Marjorie Baer and Teresa Goodall.
“Hobo bags plus its Urban Oxide division are huge, especially the bubble rubber stuff. Some other items are crushable straw hats by Dorfman Pacific and Silver Wave, lots of pretty, printed scarves and belts in woven leathers and fabrics.
“My open-to-buy is up about eight percent from last year. I’ll check out Fern Marx, Elayne Leshtz, Vivian Clark, Statements and Nancy Milgrim.

Jill Richey, owner, Le Flair, Columbus, Ohio
“I just bought this store in July which had been a successful business for 20 years, so my main objective is to continue bringing in the lines [customers] like. On the other hand, I also need to bring in new, fresh lines. It gets even trickier because my customer age range spans from 22 to great-grandmothers. We sell everything from Cambio jeans and Glima T-shirts, which are so hot right now I can barely keep them in, to mother-of-the-bride. The store is 4,200 square feet, so it’s like a mini department store.
“For spring-summer, I like Garfield & Marks suits, plus their upscale knits division, Plein Air. It travels well and looks like St. John. Tahari, Jenne Maag and Renfrew’s techno-stretch suiting looks great too. Lafayette 148 looked especially fabulous. They did really neat suits in all colors like moss, mango and grape. I bought all of them. But I think stone will be the big suit color this spring.
“I have two whole walls of the capri/cropped look from Womyn and Votre Nom. For spring, I like Cambio’s cuffed capris in red or pink and white gingham with lace detail.
“I don’t do an enormous amount of dresses, but they are necessary and special. Some of my lines are Joseph Ribkoff, Tadashi and Nicole Miller, or for my older customer, Montage for Mon Cheri and Daymor.
“We do a really big business with Three Dots. All types of styles sell in tops like halter, wrapped, off-shoulder and single shoulder. I think Kisca’s crinkled shirts will be just as popular again. We did well with all their colors, prints — graffiti to floral — and styles — sleeveless to V-neck.

Nina Kohler, owner, Sweet Potato, Kohler, Wis.
“I’m moving forward with summer. We’re in a seasonal resort area with two championship golf courses, so our time to shine is from March until October.
“Color is an absolute. It’s hard to avoid, especially with all the retro prints right now. But we use the trends more as complements.
“Some examples of our lines are Margaret O’Leary, White + Warren, Jenne Maag, Fleure de Peche, CK by Calvin Klein, & Trousers, Lilly Pulitzer and Tibi Hyland.
“We love all the pant lengths now from capris to cropped. We’ll do some subtle prints like gingham and florals, but stick mostly to solids. Lots of women don’t like a print across their backside.
“In past seasons, we didn’t have a lot of luck finding shorts that we were comfortable bringing in. I think one of the only lines we carried was & Trousers. Now that things are changing, we’re going wild with shorts — pleated, flat front, golf and colored. We tried HotPants because we thought some of our customers would be up for it, but were stuck with them at the end of the season. It’s the Midwest, not L.A.
“I’m still looking for dresses. It’s hard to find lines that specialize in them, so we look to our regular lines. We need everything from casual to dressy mother-of-the-bride stuff. “My open-to-buy is up five percent.”

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