A cotton stretch top from JSong International’s Way line.

NEW YORK — Buyers were feeling better about business at a trio of trade shows here last week, where they shopped for fall merchandise, filled in holes in their spring and summer inventories and continued the stampede toward bright colors....

NEW YORK — Buyers were feeling better about business at a trio of trade shows here last week, where they shopped for fall merchandise, filled in holes in their spring and summer inventories and continued the stampede toward bright colors.

This story first appeared in the January 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The shows — Nouveau Collective, Moda Manhattan and D&A Annex — each offered retailers a mix of lines to fill their racks, from young and funky styles to more conservative fare.

At Nouveau Collective, held at the Park Central Hotel Jan. 10-13, Stephanie Martinez, a sales assistant for Monique Ramos who was selling several lines, said, “It doesn’t matter what season, people are going more and more for bright colors…even in winter,” a sentiment that was shared by a host of other exhibitors at the three events.

Nouveau Collective, which featured a total of 420 lines, some in the hotel’s ballroom and others in rooms on several floors, had about 1,700 attendees.

Arthur L. Ralph, a sales representative for Cynthia Max, said traffic at the show was good. Despite signing up late, “A lot of people seemed to find us,” said Ralph, who was opening new accounts and connecting with stores that have bought from him in the past.

Jackets, bamboo prints and Tencel and cotton mixes were selling well, he said.

Maralyce Ferree of Maralyce Ferree Clothing Design said, “The buying mood is very optimistic. I think people had good sell-through for fall and Christmas.”

Suzanne Herbster, a customer service representative for Sno Skins Inc. said she was getting “a lot of reorders on dimensional prints.” She added, “Pink is in style right now.”

Barbara Wasch, sales representative for Jen-Mar, joined other exhibitors when she said traffic, which had been up and down, improved when wine was offered Sunday night along with assorted cheeses and cold cuts.

“Everyone was very relaxed,” she said. “Everything seems to be more item-driven, so when you get something that clicks you run with it.”

Gadi Padan, chief executive officer of Cartise International, which sells an updated contemporary line with what he described as “a little edge,” said retailers shopping were not obsessed with price.

For the firm’s novelty tops and bottoms, he said, “Price is no object. It’s got to look right and the customer is buying.”

Sales representative Kimberly Abell said buyers also “seem to be in a good frame of mind” and were “positive about spring” since post-holiday business seems to have been good. Dresses and skirts have been big sellers, she said.

Virginia Macey-Schütte, owner of the Virginia’s Chapter XIV boutique in Stowe, Vt., came to fill in some holes in her inventory with vendors she has done business with before, such as URU, Amy Brill and Cynthia Ashby.

“I didn’t need to look for a lot, but came in for some extra special pieces,” she said. “I go for really artsy, unique stuff.” She was finding just that and was having trouble choosing what to order.

As for business, though, Macey-Schütte characterized the last few months as “kind of slow.”

Sara Kay, who was buying for Brenda’s in Brooklyn, indicated that vendors had gone overboard with the bright colors and that she was having trouble finding subtle tones for her store.

“There’s a happy medium,” she said. “They went from dark to hot pink.”

The Moda Manhattan show, held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Jan. 11-13, featured 200 lines and boasted attendance of almost 9,000, about 1,000 more than a year ago. Moda is paired with Accessories The Show, which is also put together by Business Journals Inc.

Designer Way Zen, of JSong International, said she opened 18 new accounts at the show, which was her second Moda outing.

“People are very open to new things,” she said, noting a shift from a more conservative feeling recently.

Selling well at her booth were blouses with paper-cut details and coats with embroidered floral details. JSong has also seen business shift to separates from an outfit orientation. Moda was the first time out at a New York trade show for the firm’s new Way line.

Shiraz Sachs, export and computers manager who was selling Reuma Fashions Design’s line, which sells to 400 boutiques, was meeting with regular accounts and also picking up new stores. Sachs noted that silk-flower and netting trims were doing well, with retailers buying for the end of summer and fall, she said.

Barbara Graffeo, owner of her eponymous line, said while traffic had been mixed at Moda, casual apparel was selling well, including her athletic jumpsuits and velour tracksuits.

Trent Whitten, buyer for Whitten’s Town & Country Clothes in Albertville, Ala., said, “I’m really looking for unheard-of names, good-looking merchandise that’s not so trendy.”

Louise M. Ciampi, owner of Clothware in Cambridge, Mass., who was buying late this year, said the show featured high- quality merchandise. “I’m passing everything by that’s not knocking my socks off,” she said.

Ciampi was looking for bright colors, but also wanted some more mild tones. Either way, she said, “Color is checking at retail. Everything else is on the sales rack.”

D&A Annex, put on by Designers & Agents and held at the Starrett Lehigh Center Jan. 11-13, had 27 booths representing 46 lines and about 900 attendees.

Ann Linn, who was exhibiting her line, which is all hand-dyed locally, said the show was good. “I do these shows to live and eat,” Linn said. “I don’t have a showroom.”

Sara Rachlin, sales representative for the Aubrey Co., agreed that the show was “really good for such a small season and such a small show. I haven’t sat down.”

In addition to regular customers, Rachlin was surprised to see stores from the West Coast also shopping the show. Selling well at her booth were T-shirts and miniskirts.

Joanne Corzine, co-owner of Two Skirts, a store in Telluride, Colo., was at D&A looking for designers with smaller collections. For spring, she said “pretty clothes” as opposed to “edgy” were selling.