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So what’s new?

That’s what buyers were trying to determine as they walked the aisles of four trade shows at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Pier 94 in New York earlier this month. And the real answer to that question may be in the eye of the beholder.

The four shows were Edit, targeting the premium luxury market; Stitch, which had its first outing showcasing accessible luxury brands; Moda Manhattan, representing lifestyle and contemporary brands, and Fame, for the junior and young contemporary lines. While there were some options available for immediate deliveries, most of the lines were showing for spring/summer 2015.

Shlomo Salama, who owns Fashion for Less on Church Street in Brooklyn, said, “I didn’t see much newness…. We didn’t see any direction…. I guess leggings with tunics are the next big trend, but that’s my guess. I’m still waiting for some direction.”

He was focused more on Fame, where the exhibitors were showing lighter-weight fabrics for spring and summer. There was some fall and winter merchandise for intermediate deliveries. Lace options for tops and dresses were available at many of the exhibitors. Shawn No, a manager at Hem & Thread, said, “Laces are doing particularly well with buyers.” The company’s lace tops wholesale for $15, while its lace dresses range between $16 and $20 each.

Heidi Helstrom, president at London Times, when told that buyers said they didn’t see much newness, asked, “Who said that?” She then showed the different ways a blouson-styled top could be modified via changes in the neckline or sleeve options to create different looks for knee-length dresses, maxi dresses, and even jumpsuits. “We can modify the prints, neck and sleeve so it’s not done over and over again in the same way. We modify and update to create the newness to the look,” she said. The dress options averaged $39 at wholesale.

And although the jumpsuit first started to trend in the spring, Helstrom said the look is still new. “The jumpsuit hasn’t even hit the stores yet. It will be around for a couple of years,” she said.

While there may not have been major trends discernible at the shows, other firms, such as at Katherine Way, were choosing to show newness through different prints or changes to the fabrications. Katherine Way is focused on tops and dresses in Palm Beach-styled prints suitable for resort or the golf club. For this show, the nylon-spandex fabrication featured moisture-wicking properties. Wholesale price points for the tops and dresses are between $35 to $79.

Buyers were luckier at the Edit and Stitch shows, where newness was featured in both the brands that were at each venue, as well as how they used different fabrications and textures.

At Marie St. Pierre, a Canadian line that showed at Edit, some buyers were testing the drape of the jerseys and heavier ponte knits for the jackets and dresses, trying them on to check on whether the merchandise was really designed to move with the body. Wholesale price points range between $200 to $500.

Also showing at Edit was Layana Aguilar, a “Project Runway” cast member during Season 11. She chose to show her versatility via fabric combinations, such as Neoprene and leather. “Neoprene is my new found love. It is really soft. The combination with leather is unconventional, kind of like me — a Brazilian girl with the edginess of New York,” Aguilar said. Wholesale prices were between $39 to $290.

At Stitch, Tanners Ave. was showing styles that experimented with leather strips. The idea for a leather vest featuring a strip motif, which wholesaled for $120, was from a pleather jacket that also had the strip motif throughout the piece. Sandy Han, the general manager, got the idea of using leather strips from a pair of denim pants that had a similar decorative design. Too expensive for a full leather jacket, pleather was used first to test the idea, followed by the more affordable leather-stripped vest. She’s since expanded the motif to leather strips down a center panel on dresses.

Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of BJI Fashion Group, which owns and produces the shows, said, “In total the BJI Fashion Group drew buyers from 47 states and a record high 75 countries.”

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