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Other designers echoed the sentiment.
Zac Posen said the goal is to create a collection of “runway pieces to die for, that are going to find homes, that sort of become the bijou of your selection.”
Peter Som noted, “It’s creating product that is buy-now, wear-now. For a designer collection, each piece has to have a novelty or detail. It’s also about listening to your retailer and working closely with them. At the end of the day, it’s a partnership with the retailer, and understanding what the customer is looking for, then taking that information and giving them that and something that they didn’t know they were looking for. It’s the ultimate dance of commerce and creativity.”
Jason Wu said collaboration with stores is key in these times. “I will make sure I am taking care of the stores,” Wu said. “I want to make sure that product sells through, and to do that, we have to have close communications with the stores. Our sales director is on the road, and I am doing a lot of store events coming this fall.”
Like many of his contemporaries, Thakoon Panichgul of the Thakoon label is mindful of price points without cheapening the line. “It’s being more cautious of prices and figuring out ways to get good prices on special fabrics or pieces we believe in in terms of quality,” Panichgul said. “We put forth every effort with a price consciousness in mind that affects the end price. We are looking at ways of finishing that may not be so costly but are still open to a whole world of ideas.”
And retailers seem focused on what products to buy. “One very strong spring trend is an overall casual ease to dressing,” said Judy Collinson, Barneys New York executive vice president and gmm of women’s. “This is great because people are just not dressing up as much. Clothes that you can wear longer and are more seasonless will be important. The runways are always filled with the most extravagant, innovative part of a designer’s collection. We need this part as well as the clothes that make sense on an everyday level. What we would like to see are fewer exits. I think a 30- to 40-exit show is enough. We only need a few things for this delivery. Women are buying great quality, timeless pieces. They are editing more, buying from designers they love and buying pieces they will use a lot. Right now many seem to love perfect leather jackets, luxurious knits. There are still emotional buys of incredibly beautiful pieces.”
Hershey-Lambert cited abstract floral prints, as well as naturals and neutrals across clothing, shoes and handbags, nautical inspirations and stripes, raffia handbags and espadrilles. She also cited a bohemian feeling of “fun and functionality” and a casual chicness, whether it’s a cross-body messenger bag or a little open-weave boot.
“There is kind of a preppy-punk moment on the horizon,” Solomon said. “It may be a blazer worn with cutoff black denim shorts and neon leggings or sweatpants chopped off as shorts.” She added there is “an Eighties moment” with people wearing “serious” work clothes and changing into something casual for the evening.
“It’s no longer appropriate to wear to work what you intend to go out in. I think you need to change your clothes,” said Solomon.
“We have seen a very big trend toward the softer part of fashion, particularly blouses, soft tops, dresses and knitwear,” said Saks’ Boitano. “Those continue to be very strong drivers of the business. We are definitely looking for more casual. Shoppers are buying that way but we will continue to go after opportunities for occasion dressing. When you approach runway, you always look for the fashion — the exciting, emotional pieces.”