A NOVEL APPROACH
BUDGETS ARE FLYING, AND STORES WANT FUN CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES.
Byline: Rebecca Kleinman
Get ready to party. Next fall, this town will be awash in cocktail attire and tons of hot accessories, as retailers come to town loaded with fat budgets and a thirst for fun, novel items.
Accessories are the most important category on retailers’ minds. They hope to find great novelty bags, especially in animal prints — one of fall’s biggest trends. Although zebra, pony and snakeskin will move forward, retailers report crocodile will be the latest interpretation used for bags, belts and shoes.
Shawls also move forward, but whether pashmina does too is debatable. Some retailers think customers fell in love with it and won’t give it up, whereas others say it’s saturated the market. But the majority agrees the shawl will be an essential piece, owing to its ease and wide range of yarns, stitches and embellishment.
Regarding jewelry, ethnic, chunkier styles dominate, especially pieces with turquoise. Although crystal bracelets have peaked, bracelets in general seem to sell strongly. Versions with semiprecious stones and sterling silver are the most popular.
Aside from accessories, other fall trends to fill in include colored leather and suede, below-the-knee and midcalf skirts, pants — including trousers, cropped and narrow silhouettes — and sweaters.
Considering June market to be a good opportunity to pick up knits, retailers report there are a variety of trends to choose from. Sweaters feature color-blocking, stripes, chunky mixed yarns, cut-outs and prints. Many predict the chunky look will dominate. They list yarns that are lightweight, not itchy, and easy to care for as the most desirable.
With suits making a comeback, retailers also need to beef up this category. But versions must be updated styles with lots of novelty, rather than past traditional or matronly looks. Due to the trend, blouses also will be important in a full range of colors, fabrics and silhouettes.
And once again, color remains strong. New palettes feature rich browns, purples and reds, while brights like orange and turquoise won’t disappear from the market when summer ends.
Here’s what some retailers are planning.
Julie Kizzire, area retail manager for Troon Golf’s Peddlers boutique at Eagle Ridge Inn & Resort, Galena, Ill.
“I’ve already written most of my orders for fall, but I’ll buy something if it’s great. For June, I’ll be filling in and looking at accessories and children’s clothing. We just added women’s shoe lines like Stuart Weitzman, Tags and Brighton, but we’re looking to add more.
“Since the big thrust for spring is snakeskin, I think crocodile will be the newer look for fall. I’ll order some crocodile-embossed bags and shoes. As for other accessories, I think pashmina will be big again, too, and other types of shawls. Oriental and Southwestern influences remain strong, especially silver jewelry. Pony will come around again, and we’ll do some faux fur vests, hats and mittens.
“For clothes, my customers like anything that’s easy-care and easy-travel, especially being in a resort area. One good line for that is Joseph Abboud, who does lots of layered knits with different necklines.
“I’m also looking for lightweight, washable knits like cotton cashmere blends in different bodies and sizes. We sell lots of cashmere to career women. The white blouse will return, too, but in different silhouettes. We have three by Dakini at moderate prices and some in a Tencel-microfiber blend by Nomadic Traders.
“I added more suits, but in separates, or what’s known as a soft suiting look. I’m not looking for the traditional suit woman. We carry Sigrid Olsen’s long jackets paired with shorter skirts or slacks.
“We also have some day dresses that can go into evening from Sigrid Olsen and silk sheaths from Eagle’s Eye.
“Some other lines are Tommy Bahama, Resort Two, Woolrich jeans and Tundra, 525, Planet Earth and Michael Simon sweaters.
“Since we offer gifts, I’ll add different items like painted porcelain collectibles from Fitz & Floyd, candles and potpourri.
“My open-to-buy is above what I had budgeted, so I’ll be able to fill in and add pieces.” Mickey Judkins, owner, Details, Eau Claire, Wis.
“I’m always looking to fill in and add pieces. Because this is a small community, we have to offer an eclectic mix of casual, career and special occasion wear.
“For us, casual sweater knits are big. We have chunky knits and will move forward with them in new palettes, especially brights. Also, Isda and Eileen Fisher do loose, sheer knits that people respond to if you show them what to wear underneath. I don’t think those looks will be as important as chunky, though.
“We are also teaching customers to mix classic suitings with soft knit pieces. We’ve replaced lots of our suit dollars with knit dressing. Of course, there are always places where the head-to-toe suit look is necessary, but people want more mileage out of their wardrobe through add-on pieces.
“Trousers are always important, in tapered and wide-leg looks. We probably carry a three-to-one ratio of pants to skirts. For skirts, we show the new below-the-knee and midcalf styles, but we also have the classic long and mini lengths.
“Animal prints continue to build. We have Nick & Nora’s zebra-striped flannel pajamas and belts, plus some layering pieces from Lynn Ritchie in different prints. I haven’t seen a lot of crocodile yet, but I’ll probably do some belts.
“Color will deepen into richer colors like curry, paprika and eggplant. The color is the newness. Our customer has responded positively to it. For special occasion, Eileen Fisher has simple shapes. I also like Nicole Miller and Look. I won’t wait until August to buy some dressier items.
“We don’t carry traditional outerwear. It has to be something unique, which is hard to find.
“For accessories, pashmina did well last year. I think the woman who purchased it fell in love with it. It’s easy for travel and for wearing over a dress. Bracelets are still strong. We’re done with the crystal versions, but I see some innovation with semiprecious stones and sterling silver.
“Shoes are well represented at the Chicago market. I recently added shoes. It’s a nice way for my customers to finish off a look. Since we’re in a small community, it’s hard to find those looks.
“My open-to-buy is up. I feel positive about the year and am excited about all of the technology and innovation in fashion now.”
Carla Sachi, owner, Carla Sachi, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
“I buy accessories and my American and Canadian lines in Chicago. Some are Francesca Mammoliti, which is known for its suits and sportswear geared toward younger women, but with mature fits, and Frascara, a special-occasion line for mother-of-the-bride looks. I also like Jenne Maag, Holson, Renfrew, Guy Laroche shawls and Judith Jack jewelry and handbags.
“I like fashion, quality and simplicity. Trends aren’t my thing. For example, I didn’t buy pashmina last year because every department store had loads of versions from $90 to $1,800.
“Regarding fall trends, I will touch on animal prints in items or accessories, but not for a whole look. I think crocodile and pony bags spice up an outfit. But animal prints never really go out of style. It’s just more pronounced this year.
“Since leather will be big, I’ll carry some pants and jackets. I don’t like colored leather, though. I may buy colored leather in a few smaller items or a cropped jacket.
“I sell a lot of suits, too. I think most women will always wear them in pants and skirt versions, but not in the matronly look.
“My customers prefer suits over day dresses. Since most women are pear-shaped, I think it’s easier for them to alter separates than find a garment that fits all over.
“My open-to-buy is up 10 percent from last June.”