The Long, Hot Season: Buyers Applaud Spring But Gripe About Shows

A brutal show schedule with many off-site venues; hot, humid weather, and snarled traffic as a result of the United Nations summit left retailers feeling...

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Robert Burke, senior vice president of fashion at Bergdorf Goodman, said he's never experienced a more difficult and uncomfortable show season, between the traffic, heat, venues and the amount of people that have no reason at all being at shows.

"I love that fashion has gotten so much attention, but we need to regroup and think about who needs to be there," he said. "It's at the point that it's become distracting. Hopefully, these p.r. companies will think twice about how much of a spectacle they want to turn a show into. I think the tents were the best organized that they've ever been. Most of the off-site venues were not very comfortable places for the most part."

Fink added, "We get to shows even earlier now so we're not trampled by the camera crews and rudely pushed aside. Designers need to figure this out. We're all there to do a job. When I can't get enough seats for my people, it's a problem."

"It's a difficult week in the fact that there are lot of shows, and you rush everywhere to wait," said Barbara Atkin, fashion director of Holt Renfrew. "There were major traffic jams, adding to the unnecessary stress, but as buyers, we kind of accept that. We have to put up with it, but how much longer we will do this, who knows? There has to be a breaking point."

Buyers were partially appeased by what they called the strength of the season. Overall, standout collections were seen from Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Vera Wang.

Here is what buyers had to say on the season:
  • Joan Kaner of Neiman Marcus said the store is picking up some new designers. "We're looking at Rodarte and Stephen Burrows, who had a nice collection. I loved Michael Kors, J. Mendel, Ralph Lauren, Y & Kei, Jose Ramon Reyes and Brian Reyes."

  • Bloomingdale's senior vice president of fashion direction, Kal Ruttenstein, characterized the week as "a little erratic, but overall a good season with some really strong, established collections and a couple of new players that show promise. "Even in some collections that weren't great, there were a lot of good items."
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