By Lisa Lockwood
with contributions from Aria Hughes
 on September 25, 2017

NEW YORK — Retailers turned out in droves for the recent round of women’s trade shows here last week, eager to snatch up the latest trends for spring, which ranged from skin-baring looks to the ongoing fascination with boho.

Coterie, which took place Sept. 17 through 19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, kept things interesting by adding several areas to the show. There was Studio by Maris Collective, featuring 15 collections; the Khora Energy Lounge; a beauty area, spotlighting about 10 brands, and R.A.C. — Random Acts of Creativity, which styled 30 mannequins in Coterie brands, and their own acquired pieces.

Danielle Licata, vice president and general manager of Coterie, noted that the show vibe and traffic were strong and she received overwhelming positive feedback from the brands. “Retailers flocked to new destinations such as Beauty and Studio by Maris Collective proving that people are ready to try new categories and expose themselves to fresh collections,” she said. Among the retailers who shopped Coterie were Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Mario’s, Julian Gold, Anthropologie, Barbara Jean and Rent the Runway, she said.

There were plenty of spring trends on display such as tops with sleeve interest, skin-baring looks, bra tops, new sweatshirts, wide-legged pants, waist-defining bottoms, the new suit/blazer and the sneaker dress. There were also plenty of bohemian looks being featured, in prints and floral dresses.

Jennifer Miller, who has five stores in Palm Beach and South Beach, Fla., New York, East Hampton and Southampton, said she was excited about a Brazilian collection called Pat Bo.

“I find it very refreshing. It’s a mix of silhouettes and very fitted, feminine and classic,” said Miller. She said she particularly liked a floral, short, fitted blazer. Another collection she really likes is Ramy Brook. “We do a phenomenal business in all our stores,” said Miller, calling the line sexy and appealing to her customers. “It’s got a great price and the silhouettes are easy to sell,” said Miller. She also likes Avenue Montaigne and bought several pull-on palazzo pants, in black, gold and navy. She said they are slim through the leg and wide at the bottom. She believes these pants will be particularly strong for her South Beach clientele “and the price points are friendly.”

“I also love Rachel Zoe,” said Miller, citing the designer’s whole fringe line. “It has a flapper/Studio 54 supersexy vibe. It’s whimsical and fun,” she said.

Miller said business has been great, despite the fact that she had to evacuate both her South Beach and Palm Beach stores during Hurricane Irma. She was able to remove the merchandise from the stores and just brought everything back. “We reopened both stores last Thursday. We’re grateful there was no damage and everyone was safe,” she said.

Andrew Oshrin, chief executive officer of Milly, said his booth was very busy. He said Sunday’s business beat last year’s numbers, and the company has been seeing a lot of international specialty stores, including stores from the Middle East.

Susan Neithamer, Gayla Reed and Elisabeth Dupee, partners in Coco Blanca, in Alexandria, Va., said they were searching for easy and comfortable clothes. Their boutique focuses on neutrals. Among the brands they were looking to buy at Coterie were XCVI, Three Dots, Love Acrobat, Tyler Boe, OST and Lola & Sophie.

Emily Parkman and Halle Ray, co-owners of Stella Blu, a store in Mountain Brook, Ala., said they were buying One Grey Day. “We like the sweaters with details and cutout backs,” said Parkman. They were also excited about the metallic leather jackets and denim at Blank NYC. She said the jeans were a great price at $98 and the leather jackets were $118. In particular, she liked their cropped denim with raw frayed hems, as well as their sweatshirts, suede dresses and suede jackets. They also were going to buy T-shirts at Wilt and sweatshirts at Sen. They also liked the distressed sweatshirts at Generation Love.

Jeni Kleckley, owner of Monkee’s in Greenville, S.C., was buying Trina Turk’s line. “It looked really good. It’s really wearable and salable,” she said, citing the corals and lots of stripes. “We’re looking for things that have the right price points.” She said Rebecca Minkoff’s collection also had good price points. “To be successful [as a retailer], you have to make fashion easy,” said Kleckley. At Minkoff, she liked the ruffles and the wrap dresses. She noted that Minkoff has lowered some of its price points. “They have great dusk to dinner,” she said.

Uri Minkoff, chief executive officer of Rebecca Minkoff, explained, “The Rebecca Minkoff brand has had a great season with fall selling and still maintains a strong position within the contemporary lifestyle category. We’ve noted a significant pattern in Millennial and Gen Z buying behavior and have adjusted our opening price points ever so slightly to coincide with this trend,” he said.

Other collections Kleckley liked were Crosby by Mollie Burch, which had polyester blends that were machine washable. “A lot of moms want to be put together but don’t want to take the silk to the dry cleaner,” she said.

Suzanne Silverstein, president of Parker New York, said spring 2017 sold really well and business is good, so it bodes well for spring ordering. She said the prints were very emotional and the botanical prints have sold well. She noted that Sunday’s business was almost double from a year ago.

At Woman, which took place at Spring Studios from Sept. 17 to 19, trends included relaxed suiting, statement vintage eyewear, saturated colors and unisex silhouettes. Traffic at this show was also steady.

At Capsule, which took place from Sept. 16 through 18 at Pier 94, brands and buyers said traffic was good. This season Capsule tapped Mentor Me Copenhagen to bring together a Nordic Design Area that featured brands including Fors Noms, Maska and Stine Ladefoged, and enlisted Marie-Sophie Lockhart, of Lockhart embroidery, to custom embroider pieces for guests.

Throughout the show there was an emphasis on unique product that compels the customer to buy. Trends included Seventies-inspired pieces, matching sets, jumpsuits, heritage, stripes and the color yellow.

According to Sean Naughton, the sales director at Levi’s Made & Crafted, the brand had its best show to date. He attributed this to the customer’s desire for heritage product and the company’s booth setup, which in the past has been enclosed.

Taylor Ciccone, co-owner of Common Vice, a traveling showroom that handles lines including Lykke Wullf, Solosix and Tier Apparel, her brands have done well despite slowing store traffic.

“It’s been a great year for us,” said Ciccone. “Last year it was a different location and I think the return to the piers and the show being closer to Coterie is a big factor.”

Ciccone did note that buyers are buying less of a full collection and more interesting, novelty pieces that stand out.

“There are so many things and everything looks alike,” said Ciccone. “People want clothes that have a wink to them.”

Doris Barsauskas, the owner of MacKimmie Co., a boutique in Lenox, Mass., highlighted Handvaerk, Tsuyumi and Hysteria, Happy Socks’ new women’s line, as standouts. She noted that her boutique, which has been open for five years, has done well as customers have gravitated to unique pieces that aren’t made in China.

Jenna Gielan, a buyer at Urban Outfitters, was pleased with the selection and called out One Piece, a resort line she thought had a unique perspective on beachwear. Gielan said the heritage brands have resonated with the Urban customer.

“Urban has built a big attraction around heritage brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, said Gielan. “And now we are figuring out ways to evolve those assortments.”