COLOR AND CAPRIS BRIGHTEN CHICAGO
Byline: Nancy Brumback
CHICAGO — Midwest specialty store owners shopping the Chicago Style Show were generally upbeat about the spring and summer season, despite lackluster Christmas sales for many and continued economic uncertainty.
Several retailers reported that while holiday sales were disappointing, 2000 as a whole was a good year, and showroom owners at the Apparel Center indicated the retailers attending the Jan. 26-30 market were spending money.
Capri and cropped pants continue to look strong in the Midwest for the coming season, the retailers said. They also tended to be shopping for items and to be betting on colors, especially orange and pink.
Alan Siegman, owner of Water Street Clothing, a high-end specialty shop in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior, noted, “Last year was our best in 21 years. The holidays showed an increase, but were not that great, but the year before the holidays was really good.”
He attributed some of the holiday softness to heavy December snows. Siegman is concerned about the first half, depending on the fate of the stock market. His store is holding designer trunk shows every weekend in February to spur interest.
For spring, he said, “It looks like shirts will be important and shorter-length pants. I see it as an item business, with novelty tops very strong.”
The store has been doing well with the Komarov and Kisca lines.
Sherri Bryan, owner of two Knuth specialty stores in the Cleveland area, said the holidays were good, but that some of that was due to a store expansion. So far, she said the first quarter has been “spotty, very itemy, more than serious pieces.”
“Color will be very important for the spring and summer,” Bryan noted, particularly pink, orange and green. “And cropped pants are not dead.”
Showroom executives at the Apparel Center noted that while the January market is generally a quiet one, the retailers attending were spending.
“Retailers are surprisingly uplifted” after the slow holidays, said Karin Berger, owner of a rep firm that bears her name.
“They are looking forward to fall, the best season in the Midwest, and are very intent on writing fall business,” she said, noting suedes and marled yarns and colors in sweaters were strong.
Susann Craig, owner of the Susan Craig rep firm, agreed that retailers “didn’t have a good Christmas.”
“They have a lot more stock than they want, but they are leaving paper more than I thought they would,” she said.
Tracey Schumann, co-owner of A Touch of Class in Dayton, Ohio, noted holiday sales exceeded last year’s, as did sales for the year.
She expects soft floral skirts and matching sweaters to do well this spring, and likes suedes and leathers for fall, along with Stephanie Schuster’s line.
Amy Ryan, owner of The Top Drawer in Springfield, Ill., noted a move of her store from a suburb to the larger city hurt her Christmas business.
“It was a disappointing ending to a very good year,” Ryan said.
Capri pants, prints and bright colors — orange, pink, turquoise and lime — will sell this summer, she predicted.
“I’m concentrating on suede and leather for fall,” Ryan added. “It’s a category we were not strong enough in last year.”
Terry Papazian, owner of Tressa’s in West Bloomfield, Mich., was at the market shopping for fill-in spring merchandise after a “not great” holiday season.
“Capris and any kind of pants, T-shirts and novelty jackets” will sell, she said, and she likes merchandise from Suel, Renfew and Staples.
Debbie Hennen, owner of Deborah Jean Apparel in Naperville, Ill., west of Chicago, was shopping for items to diversify the store’s mix and agreed with other retailers that all forms of cropped pants will be strong, along with pink and orange colors.
Carolyn Freeman, buyer for de Jong’s, a two-unit department store in Evansville, Ind., noted, “The ladies are more casual than they’ve ever been,” and so they were looking for casual dresses. “Michael Simon still sells well.”