Retailers shopping UBM’s Accessorie Circuit, Intermezzo and Children’s Club at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York snatched up new resort collections, which ship in the fall — with a little fall and holiday mixed in — at the three-day show, which wrapped on Tuesday.
Also important to buyers — as always — was newness and excitement. Karen Daskas, owner of Tender, a high-end designer clothing and accessories boutique in Birmingham, Mich., had flown in to New York for the day to see the latest Marni collection and decided to stop by Intermezzo to scope out the jewelry.
“I’m here to find things that are a little different; something that’s not all over,” Daskas said. “My clients are just like you — you don’t want to see yourself five times at an event or even walking down the street,” she said, emphasizing her boutique, which she founded 23 years ago with her sister, as a place of discovery. “My clients range from 20 up to whatever; that makes it very interesting. It’s such a mix….We do really well with Peter Pilotto, Simone Rocha, Joseph.”
Mark Horn, owner of the Catalina boutique in Vieques, Puerto Rico, was checking out the trade show for the first time. His store sells men’s and women’s clothing and home goods with a focus on breezy vacation wear. “I’m looking for mostly resort — some colorful styles as well as more muted linen pieces,” Horn said. “I need some sexy pieces and also some more covered up things for older women.”
His favorite find at the show was Gretchen Scott, a women’s collection which erred conservative but also had some more youthful styles.
Contemporary brand Velvet by Graham & Spencer was pushing its pre-spring collection with an assortment of holiday items. “People still want resort out here in the Northeast, and we also have our Florida stores [buying resort],” said Francisco Hernandez, a sales manager for the brand at Findings showroom, noting that Monday was the busiest day at the fair.
The brand recently reintroduced a line of basics — simple T-shirts and sweats in an array of silhouettes and colors — and new tops in stretch satin and Swiss dot fabrics, all of which were strong performers. “It’s tried and true, and we lowered the price point to entice retailers looking for [products with] higher margins,” Hernandez said of the basics. “Some of these stores are more mindful of what they’re spending these days. Whatever we don’t get done here, we have to get on the road and do it.” (The team was said to be traveling to shop the collection to the Chicago and Atlanta markets next.)
Alicia Bell was assisting a buyer from Anthropologie in her booth for Bell, the women’s clothing label she’s designed since founding the company in 2000. Her label is known for its crisp cotton shirting with pleated cuffs, all customizable and made in America. Two years ago, the brand introduced bohemian dresses and caftans made in India. “Most people are here for resort,” she said. “It hasn’t been the busiest show, but it’s relatively consistent. But you have to be here. It’s important. You just never know who’s going to come.”
Other women’s contemporary brands at the show included Milly, Nicole Miller, Rachel Zoe, DL1961 denim, Alice & Trixie and Bailey 44. In the busy Shoshanna booth, reps for the company were selling colorful resort and swimwear collections. “We’ve been doing really well with easier, flowy dresses and tops,” said Samantha Owens, an account executive at the brand, noting the still-hot exposed shoulder trend. One of the collection’s bestsellers: a floral-printed red silk dress with relaxed, cutout shoulders.
Over at Flex, Intermezzo’s dedicated activewear section, Zara Terez, founder and chief executive officer of Terez, said she landed several new retail accounts at the three-day show. “That’s always what’s most important,” she said. “A lot of the people who already work with us know how our quality is — they’re able to come to our showroom and work with us. But to get the new blood into the booth and to have them test it [in their stores] is a huge opportunity.”
Terez’s favorite piece of the season was a trompe l’oeil printed denim hoodie. “It’s a faux, printed denim…it’s just the coolest thing we’ve ever done. It’s been a home run,” she said. “We take photography and put it on our leggings, pants, tops — so how can we do what we do but make it even better? Camouflage has also been fabulous and selling super well, and burnout Ts. Most other companies go to different people to purchase prints, but these are all pictures that we source, manipulate and make ourselves in New York.” Most of Terez’s women’s leggings and crop tops retail up to $78, or up to $84 for leggings with mesh panels.
Terez also had a booth upstairs in Children’s Club where she was showcasing her kids collection. “Everybody loves our leggings because you can live your life with them,” she said. “They’re all about an experience — on your pants. That’s what I believe in.”
Tom Nastos, president of women’s fashion at UBM, said he was happy with the show’s overall attendance during its three-day run. “Many of our exhibitors are going to Las Vegas, so I’m hoping that the trend [in foot traffic] will continue to Vegas and Coterie,” he said, noting the show’s two biggest changes: Children’s Club moving upstairs and the FWD show merging into Fame. “I’ve seen a pickup in purchasing activity. We want to use this show to maximize traffic flow and make it easier for people to shop. Each community has to be distinct.”
Asked if retailers seem to be shopping more conservatively at the show, Nastos said, “I don’t think it’s conservative. I think retailers are looking to manage their inventories better than ever and reduce their markdowns. Buying conservatively — that implies that they’re buying down. But they’re not buying less, they’re just buying smarter — more in tune with what they need, with a quicker response. It’s about efficient buys; chasing your success and limiting your markdowns.”
Ultimately, it’s the stores that take care of their customers that will win big in the end. “Every customer wants to feel special, whether they’re spending $50 or $10,000,” Nastos said.