NEW YORK — Contemporary collections showing at the Intermezzo trade show here basked in unseasonably solid sales for this time of year — and participants slipped outdoors when they could to bask in the unusually mild weather.
Some 7,600 people visited the Show Piers over three days beginning Sunday to check out the spring-summer 2006 collections of more than 613 exhibitors. Piers 90, 92 and 94 bustled as business heated up for denim brands that still drew crowds and even more so for brands that complemented denim such as Zooey, a basic tops line based in Los Angeles that specializes in comfy but stylish tanks and T-shirts.
Tracey West, the owner of Rouge, a contemporary boutique based in Raleigh, N.C., said Intermezzo was a success. Rouge specializes in designer jeans, sexy dresses and “party or club tops,” as West called them. For West, Intermezzo is about filling in orders, though mostly, she likes to “starve January a little.” Typically, she looks for new vendors, but also checks in with her standbys. Denim brands such as Joe’s, 575, Red Engine and Antik are bestsellers at Rouge, but this season, West was looking for newness in the nondenim arena. Kimonos, she said, were popular, as were banded tunics. She found new trends as well as new brands.
West’s strategy at the show has shifted slightly. Now, she scopes out the brands she sees draping the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie and Mary-Kate Olsen. Like it or not, she said, celebrities are driving the contemporary market. One of West’s employees scours celebrity magazines and notes who’s wearing what so West knows what to keep an eye out for at shows such as Intermezzo. “I dislike having to do it, but we have to do it these days,” West said. “If I don’t like it, I simply won’t buy it.”
She typically writes $70,000 to $80,000 in orders per delivery.
If celebrities are driving the market, Genetic denim is going along for the ride. Ali Fatourechi, Genetic’s creative director, and Shaun Hurley, president of sales, launched a small denim collection for fall 2005, but thanks to friends such as Lohan and Paris and Nicky Hilton, who are frequently photographed in Genetic, Fatourechi and Hurley expect the wholesale volume to reach $10 million by the end of this year. Genetic jeans wholesale between $86 and $102.
“We’ve had amazing buzz, and a lot of stores are taking us in,” said Fatourechi, who was enjoying his first Intermezzo experience. “There’s also a mutual respect between us and the stores, so we’re not oversaturating.”
For spring, the brand will be available in specialty stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Ron Herman in Los Angeles. At Intermezzo, Fatourechi said he originally targeted the brand to do about $400,000 in orders, but likely will wrap up with a total of $800,000 to $1 million. “And we’re just showing one delivery,” Hurley noted. In September, Genetic is looking to add nondenim pieces such as twills and cashmere sweaters.
If buyers weren’t beelining to booths brimming with denim, they were shifting their attention to collections that heavily featured dresses. Tibi designer Amy Smilovic said the brand had an excellent turnout and she expected to write $700,000 to $800,000 in orders. “We’ve picked up new accounts and we’re moving strongly from spring,” Smilovic said. Tibi reported a 70 percent increase in sales for spring compared with fall-winter 2005.
Though Tibi mixes in tops and shorts, dresses, wholesaling between $100 and $150, are the big draw this season. “People are definitely trending toward dresses,” said Stephanie Unwin, vice president of sales for Tibi. “Our dresses in silk chiffons and silk jersey are doing really well. The lines are fairly clean and we’re using interesting prints, and people really respond to that.”
At Intermezzo, Tibi opened new accounts with Net-a-porter, an Internet retailer based in London, and Scoop, the contemporary boutique based here. Smilovic is anticipating a wholesale volume of $8 million to $10 million by the end of this year.
Nadine Purdy, owner and buyer for Purdy Girl, a contemporary boutique with three locations in Manhattan, said Tibi offered “just beautiful” dresses. “We’re all looking for new, fresh stuff,” she said, adding that she was on the prowl for denim that costs less than $200 and is embroidery-free. “January is a hard delivery. It’s like the [May 30] delivery. But I’m open to buy.”
Hot Trends for Spring-Summer 2006:
- Crocheted shrugs, tanks and chunky sweaters.
- Mexican-inspired full skirts, dresses and capelets.
- Nautical-themed dresses and tanks.
- Tailored shorts.
- Halter dresses in delicate fabrics and breezy prints.