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Flirty, Feminine Dresses and Colorful Cotton and Cashmere Sweaters Excite Retailers for Spring

Jun 19, 2023

NEW YORK Flirty and feminine dresses, colorful cashmere sweaters and lots of eyelet lace and fringe were on display at this season’s Coterie here.

Retailers appeared pleased with what they were seeing and used Coterie as a chance to visit their tried and true vendors and find some new resources for spring.

The show included a group of Italian brands sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency, as well as others from South Korea, Europe, Asia and the Americas. There was also an emphasis on community and culture, sustainability and new technology, including educational sessions and live programming on the metaverse, retail technology, Web3 and 3D merchandising.

Overall, more than 820 brands exhibited at Coterie, and 29 countries were represented. Some 61 percent were U.S. brands, and 30 percent were international ones. In addition to the U.S., buyers came from countries including Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, U.K., Japan, Australia and Peru. Among the American buyers who attended were those from Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, Anthropologie and Macy’s. Compared to a year ago, buyer registration was up 38 percent for Informa’s Coterie and MAGIC shows, both located at the Jacob K. Javits Center.

Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion, said, “This show was extremely well received from our buyers, brands and industry influencers. This evolution of Coterie stood out with reimagined floor plans, immersive experiences and creative concepts. These were intentionally executed to foster more meaningful relationships and dialogues within the community. The physical changes and additions to the Coterie sparked a new wave of inspiration on the show floor.”

“I’m looking for excitement,” said Tracy Brent, owner of Tracy Brent Collections in Guilford, Connecticut, who was shopping Coterie on Monday. “The colors are fun and exciting. I’m enjoying the soft dressing and femininity,” she said.

One of the vendors she pointed to was Lace, which had a nice selection of pretty, flirtatious dresses. “I love the texturing and the color palette and design — the mixed media of it,” Brent said. She said dresses were very strong at her store, particularly those for parties, bridal events, charity galas and country club events. “Business is still good. Like the stock market, it’s been up and down. People want fresh and want something exciting,” she said. She said people weren’t really buying professional clothing, but will buy a jacket and a more casual bottom for work.

Sandy Edelstein, owner of Grove 1.2.1., a women’s specialty store based in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, said she was shopping for women like herself who want to look chic and relevant. She liked Avenue Montaigne’s pants because of the ease of the pull-on pant and they make her customer look polished. “There are fabulous fabrics that shape the body,” she said. She also liked the Bellini, which is fitted and then wide, and the Flavia, which is wide the whole way down. “They’re chic and show the figure in a good way,” she said.

Edelstein also likes Go Silk, which she called “my absolute favorite line.” She said the fabrics are breathable and flattering to the body.

However, she felt there were too many feminine, flirty dresses on display at Coterie. “Dresses are on steroids, it’s almost overwhelming. They all look the same,” she said, adding she’d like to see more classic or tailored looks. She was happy with the dresses at Gilner Farrar, which she called “feminine, but more age appropriate” that translate well to different age groups. “The boho stuff [throughout the show] is very youthful,” she said.

Ellen Shepp, owner with her mother of Joan Shepp, the luxury women’s specialty store in Philadelphia, also praised Gilner Farrar, as well as Avenue Montaigne, where she buys the core pants for all the European collections she carries. “You get a lot of style and fashion without the $1,000 price point,” she said, noting a customer can pair the pants with a Dries Van Noten top, for example. She was also planning to buy from Gold Hawk at the show. “These are little gems that are here that merchandise well with the other collections,” she said.

In addition to Avenue Montaigne, she planned to buy Planet and White + Warren, which “is one of my best. They’re always good and consistent.”

For spring, Avenue Montaigne added prints for the first time. The pants wholesale from $100 to $160. There are jacquards, laser jacquards, animal prints and scuba, along with washed stretch linen in such colors as oatmeal, khaki, olive green and white, said Daniele Chemla, the brand’s designer and owner.

Leigh Jernigan, owner of Taylor Collection in Madison, Mississippi, was visiting Coterie for the first time. “I’m seeing lots of eyelet and lace, and seeing lots of lavender. There are lots of flirty feminine dresses,” she said. She was shopping for her customers’ needs from carpool to evening. “We do lots of color and hot pink is everywhere,” she said, adding she also was searching for tops to go back to denim. Speaking of denim, she said while Taylor Collection is still selling the skinnies, the store has done best with a cropped flair. “We can’t keep DL 1961’s Bridget boot-cut in stock,” she said.

Amber Duncan, who owns, a clothing subscription service, was looking for new vendors and up-and-coming styles. She said she was at Coterie “to get a pulse of what’s trending for spring.” She was seeing a lot of bright colors and ’80s- and ’90s-themed clothing. She really liked the dresses that she saw at Guadalupe, which is owned by Daniela Garces from Colombia, which caters to resort wear.

Knitwear brand White + Warren, which is celebrating 25 years in business, was doing very well with a new selection of short-sleeved feather-weight cashmere sweaters in a variety of colorful shades, wholesaling for $130. In addition, its cotton floral and embroidered sweaters were a big hit with stores.

Susan White Morrissey, founder and chief executive officer, pointed out that its space-dyed cardigans for $135 have been selling well. White said they began offering knit dressing for spring. The brand has tried bottoms in the past, and they have started doing well this fall.

White noted that the company sees about 200 stores at Coterie, “which is powerful for us.”

“We do a nice volume business. The business is also done regionally,” she said. One hundred percent of their distribution is with specialty stores and their own e-commerce, which is 50 percent of the volume at this point, she said.

Minnie Rose was having success with its graphic sweaters, which have tongue-in-cheek sayings such as “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” and “I Love Me,” as well as a peace symbol sweater. Their number-one sweater is the tennis racket cardigan sweater, wholesaling for $185. They’ve also been doing head-to-toe kit dressing.

According to Lisa Shaller-Goldberg, founder and creative director, prices are going up about 20 percent for spring.

“Business is fantastic,” Shaller-Goldberg said. “This is going to be my best season ever.” She said they opened some new accounts, have been seeing their tried and true accounts, and are speaking with some international distributors who are interested from the U.K. and Ireland.

She said the brand is doing well with a wide-legged pant and shrunken blazers, which they have expanded from black and navy to pink, white and green. “We’re developing into a whole knitwear lifestyle collection,” she said.

Amira Rasool, founder and CEO of The Folklore Group, was exhibiting four of its collections at Coterie. It was the first time she has shown shown at a trade show. Rasool said the four designers are part of Folklore Connect, and they are Gozel Greene, Orange Culture, West and Israella Kobla.

She explained that Gozel Greene features staple pieces and a reversible dash dress and a puzzle skirt. Manufactured in Lagos, Nigeria, the line was founded by twin sisters. Orange Culture is another brand from Lagos, Nigeria, and was the first African brand to be nominated for the LVMH Prize. “It’s one of the biggest brands in Africa,” said Rasool, noting that it sells Brown’s in London and Farfetch. West is a South African brand known for its prints. They are hand-dyed and retailers can pick the colors they want. They are all custom. The collection, known for its halters, retails from $120 to $250.

The fourth brand is Israella Kobla, owned by Emefa Kuadey, who is based in Toronto. The line began in 2019, and Kuadney joined The Folklore a month ago. “I love how much they’re advocating for the brands they bring on. It’s such a great opportunity to meet people and I want to get my brand in the U.S. market,” said Kuadey. She sells in Canada at stores such as Hudson’s Bay.

Her brand features jumpsuits and dresses “that have the essence of minimalism,” she said. She showed short and long dresses and wide-legged pants. One minidress has an open-back. Her line, which is manufactured in Toronto, retails from the mid-$200 to $500.

The Folklore is a wholesale platform that provides software for diverse brands in global markets to manage and scale their wholesale business and retailers with a marketplace to discover and shop these brands. Rasool said the brands can be searched by such categories as Black-owned, ethnically sourced, women-owned and plus-sized. They have 32 brands on the site, and they have been on boarding 10 to 20 brands every week. “By the end of this month, we will have close to 100 brands,” she said. Each of the brands handle their own business and produce and ship the lines themselves. The Folklore vets every retailer.

Brodie, the London-based knitwear brand, was having lots of success with its colorful cotton silk and cashmere sweaters, along with its open-stitching and fringe sweaters.

According to Anne Marie Holdsworth, CEO of Brodie, the family-run sustainable knitwear brand won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2022. Bill Holdsworth, director, said sales are up 60 percent over the last two years [during the pandemic], which he attributed first to product, and then the marketing, which was done in their own photo studio where they produced videos with voiceovers by Holdsworth, which their agents could send to stores to sell the line.

For spring, their sweaters wholesale from $80 to $140.

The next Coterie is Feb. 21 through Feb. 23.

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