Largely fueled by a desire to increase their specialty store distribution, more than 200 exhibitors will land for the first time at WWDMAGIC, which kicks off its four-day run today in Las Vegas. The new exhibitors span the fashion spectrum, but many hail from the better and contemporary categories.

For newcomers like Los Angeles-based FuManSkeeto — a junior T-shirt and jeans line created by ‘NSync member Chris Kirkpatrick — showing at WWDMAGIC is part of a strategic marketing plan. “This year, we’re working on branding our name and really making our line strong,” said FuManSkeeto president Danielle Raabe. “It’s important to us to have a presence at WWDMAGIC this year to expand our line to a lot of smaller specialty stores we haven’t been able to reach so far.” Rural areas in the Midwest and Florida are key target markets, Raabe says. Kirkpatrick launched his line of urban, Asian-inspired casualwear two years ago. The clothes are available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and in Canada at Eatons.

As for marketing, FuManSkeeto reps should have no problem attracting a crowd to their booth: Kirkpatrick will be onsite signing autographs at FuManSkeeto’s booth on Feb. 20, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Paris-based Axara, which sells a chic, European contemporary line, has the same goal. The company recently opened its first U.S. showroom in Miami. “We want to get clothes to the American market,” said president Kali Chamma. “We’re interested in talking to people about opening franchises and also having more showrooms for wholesalers in New York or California.”

Whatever the reason, plenty of new exhibitors will be in Las Vegas this year, ready to show the latest trends. Here’s a sampling of some of the new lines:

Susan Silver, a jewelry designer from Totowa, N.J., will show her line’s signature sterling silver pieces, including some items made with gemstones. All of the jewelry — including long earrings Silver called “shoulder dusters” — is manufactured in Italy.

“The clothing styles coming out are very flowing and free, so my jewelry is going to reflect that,” Silver said. Wholesale prices range from $3 for a sterling ankle bracelet to $100 for a cable bracelet.

In the better category, Geiger of Austria Inc., which has a Vermont distribution center, will show its fall 2002 line. The collection includes boiled-wool jackets, outerwear, casual knits and stretch jeans. Some of the items have fur, leather and lace trim and are available in rich colors, including navy, kohl gray and aubergine. Wholesale prices range from $92 for a long-sleeved knit pullover to $537 for a 52-inch-long winter coat with a fox fur collar.

Los Angeles-based line Cynthia Max returns to WWDMAGIC after a two-year hiatus, with a line of better sportswear targeted at women aged 30 to 50.

“We’re going to bring a lot of novelty jackets, and we’ll mix in lace, stretch poplin and floral fabrics,” said West Coast sales representative Amy Winters.

Cynthia Max is best known for its easy-care Tencel separates that are designed to be worn in the workplace, as well as after-hours. Nordstrom is the line’s largest retail account. Wholesale prices range from $44 for a three-quarter-sleeve blouse to $75 for pair of jeans.

BK Hamburg, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will show its collection of casual knits, imported from Germany. The line includes sweaters, pants, jackets, coats and cardigans in colors, including red, gray and black tweed. Fabrics include merino, boucle and lambswool, and there are plans to add cashmere to the line soon.

“It’s all oversized, and all the knits are in the same color range so everything fits everything,” said owner and president Barbara Kiersch. “I also do a big business with our basic big shirt, which is like a men’s shirt made of woven linen.”

Wholesale prices range from $100 for a crewneck merino sweater to $200 for a long coat.

Among the new exhibitors in the contemporary section, Axara will make a splash with high-fashion French clothing. The collection includes several pieces with hippie-inspired designs, colorful florals and flowing skirts. Jeans and cotton and viscose tops will also be offered.

Wholesale prices range from $14 for a stretch T-shirt to $50 for a floral dress.

For juniors, FuManSkeeto will offer baby-style T-shirts for young women with slogans like “Drama Queen” and “School Yard Bully.” New to the line will be a selection of velour athleticwear, with hip-hugging long skirts and hooded, zip jackets. FuManSkeeto also has a large denim collection, including belted styles, stretch low-rise jeans and other novelty styles. One style of stretch jeans has “21” screen-printed in red on one of the legs. Another pair of jeans is embellished with soft navy flocking in a pinstripe and patch pattern.

“It dresses up the jeans a little bit more than a regular patch style,” said vice president Erin Myles.

Wholesale prices range from $10 for a cotton logo T-shirt to $23 for pair of belted jeans.

The ethnic, bohemian look is back, and Land of the Sun will have it in the moderate category. The San Francisco Bay-area company sells handmade batik resortwear from Bali, including sundresses and sarongs covered with unusual patterns, from suns to Celtic knots.

“We have a lot of fresh designs with better colors, more variety and new styles,” said owner Jerry Johnson.”

Long sundresses wholesale for $10.

On the resort-swimwear front, Hatley Little Blue House, a family-owned Montreal company, will bring whimsical wildlife patterns on T-shirts, sleepwear and boxers. One of the firm’s T-shirts, for example, shows a bear holding a flower pot, with the phrase “Hairy Potter” printed under the design.

“It’s all very artistic, flippant, funny, cartoonish type of stuff,” said co-owner Jeremy Oldland.

Wholesale prices range from $8 for a T-shirt to $30 for a flannel nightdress.

In young contemporary, Los Angeles-based Poison Ivy, which launched in October 2001, will show its spring and fall collections. “We felt Poison Ivy was a perfect name because our line is innocent and sweet, but also edgy,” said sales representative Ted Kim. The company will show a large selection of tops with feminine details like flutter sleeves, chiffon, pearls and lace. Wholesale prices for tops are $20 and for dresses, $50.

Dallas-based Nally & Milly also will join this year’s young contemporary section at WWDMAGIC. Sales manager Charlie Brown described Nally & Milly as a top-driven sportswear line for girls and women ages 18 to 40. “We do a lot of prints, novelty trims and crystals,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of romantic, Victorian looks.” Tops wholesale around $40 and dresses, $50.

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