Fall 2005: Beyond the Poncho

Picking up where the poncho left off, vendors said the sweater jacket is shaping up as a big trend this fall, along with crochet looks.

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“People are never going to buy two of an overall sequin top,” said Schoning, adding that shoppers will snatch up the turtleneck in a variety of colors.

For fall, Ralsey will have cardigans in various lengths, from a shrug version to one that reaches the knees.

Yarn trends are leading to sweaters that are softer to the touch, as well. For Ralsey, that means cashmere blended with wool, cotton and rayon that is easier on the skin, but lighter and less expensive than 100 percent cashmere, and a silk-nylon blend that offers a luxe feel. The brand’s sweaters wholesale from $19 to $29. Ralsey, which has wholesale volume of $100 million, was acquired by sourcing powerhouse Li & Fung in October.

However fall 2005 business turns out,  sweater vendors will most likely think fondly of poncho sales last year, though the look was far from perfect.

“Everyone’s talking about how we move on from the poncho, which was so huge for everybody,” said Kelly Shelsky, co-owner of Cousin Johnny, a contemporary sweater collection here. Part of that migration for the brand is the swantcho, a sweater-poncho hybrid that drapes in the front and sides for a poncho-like appeal.

“What happen with ponchos is, it got cold,” she said, which restricts their usefulness. The swantcho, said Shelsky, is “just a little more user-friendly than the poncho ended up being when it got cold.”

Cousin Johnny, which wholesales from $48 to $78, pulled in wholesale volume of $14 million last year from more than 1,000 specialty stores.

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