NEW YORK — The dress craze looks set to make it through summer, at least for vendors at the Designers & Agents show. And they would know.
While this summer show, which ended its three-day run at the Starrett-Lehigh Building here on Jan. 9, is significantly smaller than its fall sibling next month, it still offered more than plenty of cool, contemporary lines. The easy-breezy, printed summer dress continued to be a main feature in many of the booths, though there were also many vendors moving away from busier brights to cleaner jersey items.
The mild winter and the mysterious odor that permeated much of Manhattan last week seemed to have had no impact on the mood at the event.
“We have had a positive show,” said Ed Mandelbaum, who coproduces D&A with Barbara Kramer. “I came in thinking the mood wouldn’t be so good because of the warm weather, but we felt that everybody was in a positive mood and upbeat. People were buying.”
Mandelbaum said there were 56 booths with about 80 collections, and the show attracted 1,400 visitors, a 20 percent increase over last January’s edition. Retailers also came to buy immediates to round out spring.
“We always look for last-minute items,” said Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director at Henri Bendel. “We were happy to find saturated bright dresses, the little white dress, which is also on everyone’s mind, and newness in the T-shirt category, particularly from Elijah. In jewelry, we are still looking for great pendants and found those from Rebecca Norman.”
Heidi Hoelzer, the casual collections buyer at Scoop, noted trends such as eyelet, pastel colors, long dresses, tunics and cover-ups.
“Everything is soft and feminine,” she said. “[Summer is a] transitional period for us. This is usually a time to repeat and back up bestsellers. It is all about the dress and leggings to go with it.”
Many vendors, meanwhile, noted an uptick from this time last year.
At Charlotte Ronson, bestsellers included a white baby-doll dress with Swiss dots, for $85 wholesale, and a space-dye cotton flutter sleeve top, for $55. “Even during summer, customers that would normally buy tops are buying more dresses, which they can wear over jeans,” Ronson said.
Designer Jenny Han also was big on dresses, including a cotton voile house dress with sati-covered buttons, for $68 wholesale, and a trapeze pleated silk georgette dress for $78. “We are finding, however, that people are pushing their spring and summer deliveries to a later date in the year because they anticipate the winter to be extended into spring,” said Jessica Chavez, senior account executive at the Stacey Rhoads showroom, which represents the line.
At the Talla line, many dresses were based on silk-screened or block-printed Japanese motifs, including Ginko leaves and butterflies. Bestsellers included a blue Swiss dot blouse, priced at $49 wholesale, and a butterfly-and-heart sheer georgette blouse for $60. Talla also launched a secondary line called T2 at D&A, which offers dresses and tops in a T-shirt jersey fabric at wholesale prices from $14 to $26. “Stores right now are looking for all types of price points,” said Kenny Phelps, owner of the multiline Trevormaxx Showroom, which represents Talla and T2.