Byline: Rebecca Kleinman

With increased open-to-buys and a booming economy, retailers say they are ready to spend like it’s the Eighties all over again. And the trends are there to back up their enthusiasm, with Eighties-like excess. Fashion is fun and flashy once again, with so many options, from a tailored suit to a wild, optic print to a flirty, feminine dress, that there’s virtually something for everyone.

Kishi Kisayat, owner, Kishi & Co., Tallahassee, Fla.
“Mostly, I’ll buy holiday and resort and touch on spring. I also need gifts, like candles and pillows.
“For holiday, we do a combination of gowns and dressy separates. I like Bob Mackie and Gilar for black-tie looks.
“I’ll probably lean more toward gold than silver, too. Holiday accessories are about novelty bags, beautiful silk chiffon shawls and beaded shawls and scarves.
“Regarding other accessories, my store is too sophisticated for a lot of the gold trends like giant hoops. We carry costume, but nicer things. I’ll do chunky styles; but dainty, romantic looks still sell.
“Color is huge. I’ll pick up everything but neon.
“I’m not sure if prints are really my clientele. I may do some animal prints, just because it’s a trend. I also haven’t decided if I’ll move forward with capris and cropped pants. It depends on how the market looks.
“Due to the heat, we don’t do a lot of knits. Pretty dresses and lightweight coats are better. In coats, I’ll look for all trends, from trenches to faux fur. For dresses, I like Dana Buchman, Lafayette 148, Gilar, Calvin Klein and Laundry. My customers always complain about not finding enough dresses.
“Suits must be very clean, in basic colors. I may do a red suit for evening. I’ll write Donna Karan.”

Libby Hundley, owner, Libby’s, Greensboro, N.C.
“I may pick up some holiday fill-ins, but mostly I will write spring. I like to buy as far ahead as possible. Holiday is a huge business for us, because Greensboro has two debutante balls and those guests need lots of outfits. We also have a lot of ballroom dancers here.
“I’ll look for sequined jackets, silk pants, long ballgown skirts and black velvet and metallic looks. Patra in Arnold Helman showroom is good for us.
“I also come to Atlanta for day dresses. I prefer Cynthia Howie, a division of Maggy London, because it fits. We also have Henry Lee for our older clientele. Willi of California is a good day or church dress line.
“For suits, we really don’t do a traditional blazer look, but novelty jackets in solids paired with skirts from above-the-knee to midcalf lengths. Having such a small shop, around 1,800 square feet, I like to work with companies that have in-stock programs so I can reorder efficiently.
“I listen to my customer, and she always requests color. Royal blues, purples and fuchsias look nice up against ladies’ faces. I don’t know about prints yet. I’ve been known to say, ‘No prints,’ to reps before they show a line.
“I’m always looking for good handbag lines. For evening, my customers really like something different. Studio and Mary Frances are big bag lines for me. Bags with gold chains, or the Chanel look, also do well. I sell lots of beaded and braided belts, a variety of brooches from conservative to novelty, pendants, chokers and chunky jewelry.”

Melissa Murdock, owner, Sandpiper, Vinings, Ga.
“I’m done with holiday, so I’ll research for spring. If I see something I love, I’ll write it, but I prefer buying a little closer to season. I’ll use this market mostly as an overview, and then write in New York.
“In trends, we’ve been doing so well with color in the South. I also think brown will move forward for spring. Gold is great too, but a little goes a long way. I don’t know if I’m ready for the whole Eighties/Lurex thing again.
“Gold jewelry hit this fall, so I can’t see why it wouldn’t move forward. I think hoops will look even better since accessories have been sleepy for so long. Chunkier, bigger pieces are creeping back in, too. Because of the lariat trend, bracelets that wrap around the wrist several times sell well. It’s the whole Eighties thing. Cuffs have come and gone, though.
“Prints have exploded. I’ve done well with them. I wrote some Alice & Trixie for fall and holiday. The logo look also is starting to trickle down.
“Embellishment is really not my bag. It looks cheap to me. But I think some will continue since people ate it up last summer.
“Three Dots are my bread and butter, so I’ll also look at that line. They don’t make me shop around, by staying right on top of the trends. For other knits, cashmere is my biggest seller around the holidays. Men love its softness.
“I also see jackets creeping back in, but I don’t see myself doing the cobalt blue/fuchsia thing again. Red is as far as I’ll go. People simply need suiting. The belted look is a hard sell. Clean lines in techno fabrics that they can wear year-round do better.
“My open-to-buy is way up since I expanded to 3,000 square feet. Business is fabulous now. I don’t think retail has even begun to hit its stride. I expect it to keep growing over the next five years.”