NEW YORK — Buyers started the new year at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, perusing the aisles of Moda Manhattan and Fame for new clothes with which to stock their shelves in 2015.
What did they find? Plenty of dresses, muted colors and affordable prices. “We thought the prices were very good, which we need them to be,” said Jill Cohn, co-owner of Kids at Heart, a Livingston, N.J., boutique focused on children and juniors apparel. Romina Habermann, designer of Miami-based label Skemo, noted that keeping price points low had been a key component to her latest collection. “People are being more sensitive of prices now,” she said. “This collection, we priced at $85, maximum.”
Buyers found a number of styles to spend on, with trends differing between the two shows. At Moda Manhattan, which represents lifestyle and contemporary brands, loose-fitting clothing and feminine frocks reigned supreme. “I am being very selective, but I found a few pieces here and there, and I’m very excited about what I’ve found so far,” said Frady Rubin of Brooklyn’s Exclusive Designer Clothing. “Coat dresses are coming back and I really like that. Some of the flare-y dresses are really cute as well.”
A number of booths sported nautical and preppy prints in simple shift silhouettes, including Connecticut-based brand Just Madras by Sailor Sailor. “It’s a good market,” said cofounder Kim Haney. “This is when we sell spring and summer. We are a really nautical brand. Florida was big for November, December and January, but now we’re traveling up the East Coast.”
The line features separates, with tops starting at $50 wholesale, but the most popular offering was clear to Haney by the end of day two at the show. “Dresses, dresses, dresses,” she said. “Dresses are hot.”
The sentiment was similar at Mata Traders, a fair-trade fashion company based in Chicago. “People want something that is simple to put on,” said Michelle King, a partner of the brand. “People love our ruching with lower cuts for date night.” Wholesale pricing for the dresses, handmade by women in India, range from $37 to $42.
Habermann’s display of easy kimonos and caftans kept the exhibitor busy well into the late afternoon of day two at the show. “It’s nonstop,” she said. “This is the first time that I have time to even organize.”
Popular styles for Skemo included maxi dresses and convertible caftans. “Caftans are great, because you can belt it and make a little dress,” said Habermann. “My woman is someone who can look sexy and classy at the same time. She has that gypsy, bohemian look, but is still very put-together.”
While the easy, oversize look dominated a majority of the show, some buyers expressed concern over the actual selling potential of the trend. “It depends on how loose it is,” said Angela Fisher, owner of Fashion Avenue. “If they are too big, I don’t see it. You still want something fabulous to put on — you don’t want to look like a sack of potatoes. You have to be careful and know your customers.”
For the baggy-adverse, Fame, which features junior and young contemporary lines, boasted more form-fitting silhouettes. Popular trends included cut-outs, separates, rompers and crochet. “We were talking on the way up that we might see new trends, but we didn’t really see anything that jumped out at us,” said Kate Grassi, co-owner of Cape May-based boutique Miss Demeanor.
Grassi, along with her co-owner, Julia Grassi, did find two Made in America brands, making the trip fruitful. “We are trying to not pick up any more brands that aren’t made in the U.S., so it was wonderful to find them, because I wasn’t sure we would,” said Grassi.
At Skies Are Blue, a Los Angeles-based brand, buyers gravitated towards the rack with clothes available for immediate delivery, marked at 25 percent off wholesale. “People tend to do a lot of transitional pieces for immediate, because it’s a great price point,” said Jeanne Yi, a representative of the brand. Wholesale prices for the brand range from $16 for a top to $25 for maxi dresses. Yi noted that buyers were gravitating toward neutrals like navy and white, and staying away from neon colors.
English Factory, also Los Angeles-based, attracted much buyer attention with its collection of preppy separates. “This is our first show, and we’ve been having a great response to our two-piece items,” said brand representative Jesse Kim. “Most of our stuff is mix-and-match, so if you see a skirt, you’ll also find a jacket, or pants with a top.”
Among the label’s most popular offerings: a striped skirt and top combination, wholesaling for $18 and $17.50, respectively. “The feedback that we’ve been getting is that our line looks totally different from what is already here,” Kim said. “We’ve been getting a lot of attention from the younger crowd.”
Overall, buyers and retailers alike seemed pleased with the first trade shows of 2015. “Despite dates that were very early for the industry, we recorded nearly a 5 percent increase in attendance,” said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals, Inc., noting that retailers hailed from 44 states and 34 countries.