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Basics Take Backseat As Mod Styles Ignite Early Selling for Fall

It’s shaping up to be a Mod, Mod fall. As stores report fall business is off to a strong start, there are rumblings of an economic upturn.

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NEW YORK — Is fashion back?

The Sixties styles that flooded fall runways might just have been the tonic that retailers and consumers were craving, because stores around the country say fall business is off to a strong start. And forget basics — it’s hot fashion that’s driving the retail engine.

Business is running ahead of a year ago, and the boost comes amid rumblings that an economic upturn might take hold later this year and signs that consumers are becoming more confident about job prospects and their financial situations.

Mod miniskirts, minidresses and accessories are selling briskly, as are such new silhouettes as longer coats over short skirts, fur-trimmed outerwear, bouclé tweed jackets and skirts, and denim loaded with hardware like buckles, buttons and zippers.

In addition, career sportswear appears to be making a comeback, and corduroy pants, miniskirts, particularly in denim, and track jackets have checked well for the back-to-school crowd. Color, especially pink, violet, fuchsia, purple, aubergine and yellow, are seeing brisk retail action.

But Mod’s swinging Sixties styles — graphic shapes, short silhouettes and electric colors — appear to be clicking with consumers of all ages.

“Anything mini, bouclé or Mod is selling very well,” said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s.

“We’ve sold very Mod pieces really well,” agreed Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner of Jeffrey stores in New York and Atlanta. “Almost everything we bought from Celine has sold out, such as geometric black and white coats, Courrèges-inspired dresses, and black-and-white accessories.”

Overall, stores said anything designer-oriented, embellished and elegant is doing well, with polished looks overtaking casual styles this fall.

Jeffrey, for example, already sold out of modern fall suitings from Rochas, designed for the first time by Olivier Theyskens. Kalinsky also noted Gucci has been selling “amazingly” well in both stores, in particular shearlings and jersey dresses. “We started selling Gucci in mid-June. We’ve been shipped 70 percent of our buy, and we’re 50 to 60 percent sold. And we still have months to go.”

In accessories, he said the new Jimmy Choo handbags “are doing really, really well,” and a Lambertson Truex clutch, for $2,400, has been reordered. “August is a very strong month,” said Kalinsky, adding the stores are about 10 percent ahead in sales.
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