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Several leading European houses — Balenciaga, Marni and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel among them — helped turn fresh eyes on jackets by giving them top billing in recent runway shows. Unlike Nicolas Ghesquière's street-smart approach for Balenciaga, Lagerfeld took on the trend in a not-so-subtle way by featuring an oversize replica of a Chanel jacket on the carousel that served as the platform for his models at his Grand Palais fashion show in February. Others have since jumped on the trend by creating their own updated versions of the jacket.
Roseanne Morrison, fashion director for the Doneger Buying Group, said, "There's such good buzz about the jacket right now. It's selling very well for spring and all indications for fall are full steam ahead. It's the one item that looks really good and people are enthusiastic about having one."
The tipping point for the trend was when Balenciaga showed a jacket with a downtown edge in its September runway show, she said. That spurred the jacket's latest incarnation as an item instead of as part of a suit. "It will be worn with jeans, with riding pants or a skirt," Morrison said. "It's not this very pulled together look. It's more the piece."
Designers are responding to the increasing demand with more varied styles such as a flyaway silhouette or one with shorter sleeves. "There is so much more style interest," she said. "People want to look a little more polished, and a jacket is the right way to achieve that look."
Macy's East has pegged the jacket as a must-have for spring. The retailer's spring look book features a "Jackets Required" spread featuring a variety of styles — boxy, belted, trapeze, cropped blazers and active-inspired.
Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director of women's, said, "They are very versatile. They can be worn over printed skirts, wide-leg pants, a little dress, a full skirt, a slim skirt or skinny pants. The jacket is a fabulous item."
AK Anne Klein, Michael Kors, DKNY, Tahari, Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are best-selling labels at the retailer. Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier and French Connection are also fueling sales.