13 Feb. 2008

NY FAIR REPORT: COTERIE, D&A AND THE TRAIN

Despite an extremely tight schedule that found two of them starting less than 24 hours after the final show of New York Fashion Week and the other ending just one day before the opening of Project Las Vegas, New York City’s three womenswear fairs – Coterie, Designers & Agents and The Train – all had successful runs and healthy traffic this season.

The largest and best established of them, ENK’s Coterie (enkshows.com/coterie), concluded its three-day run yesterday afternoon. Split between two venues, Coterie featured bridge, lifestyle and evening collections, Made in Italy collections and the footwear-based show-within-a-show Sole Commerce at Pier 94 and five halls of women’s contemporary collections at the Javits Convention Center.

The latter venue was also home to the special section Mezzanine, which showcased 35 buzzed about and directional exhibitors such as Cheap Monday, Development by Erica Davies, Dondup, Edun and Sass & Bide. One brand that did brisk business there was Cacharel, which made an impressive US relaunch by showing the first collection created by the French label’s new creative directors, the husband and wife team of Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto. Eley Kishimoto’s creative fingerprint was especially evident in the clothes’ whimsical prints (such as a colorful raindrop one on a raincoat) and graphics that included a view of the Eiffel Tower on 1970s-style knit dress.

Other collections making notable debuts at Coterie included the new Zaldy for Everlast line, which compared to the previous (and now defunct) special Everlast collaboration with Norma Kamali, is much dressier and less active-driven, and the new denim label [City of Others], which is backed by Hudson Jeans and created by the founders of Iron Army, Steve Opperman and Steve Dubbeldam. Using an old-fashioned typewriter keys as part of its inspiration, this new women’s and men’s collection encompasses premium denim jeans – complete with a metallic logoed back tag that looks like it’s made from a recycled typewriter parts and a red and black linings that look like typewriter ribbon – that will retail for a mere $88 to $99.

Although many say consumers’ demand for denim is waning, the many jeanswear brands at Coterie offered tempting variations on “basic blues” such as the brightly colored or overdyed denim at Paper Denim & Cloth, 4 Stroke and Silver or another popular option, colored thin-wale corduroy, which both People’s Liberation and Stitch’s said were their season’s bestsellers.

High-waisted trouser models in both denim and other fabrics such as cord or wool were also extremely prevalent and offered by brands such as Radcliffe, Serfontaine and 18th Amendment, among many others.

And although there were some grumblings from exhibitors about the early arrival of Coterie this season, most said they just had to grin and bear the fact that they would also have be in Las Vegas for Project’s start today. Luis Padilla, the newly appointed president of ENK, explained to Sportswear International that the show’s dates were decided based on “venue availability and the desire to be right after Fashion Week” (which is when Coterie is traditionally held).

As always, Designers and Agents (designersandagents.com), which ran Saturday to Monday at the Starret Lehigh Center on 26th Street and the Chelsea Art Museum on 22nd Street, offered an impressive boutique-friendly mix of more than 250 mostly women’s exhibitors from all over the globe, who spanned everything from bag and shoe makers and jewelry designers to well-known contemporary apparel labels such as Nicholas K, Loomstate, Won Hundred, Stewart + Brown, VPL, Imitation by Imitation of Christ and Cooper by Trelise Cooper.

Among those who reported success at the show was the sales agent for Senada Theory, a Bangkok-based line of cool womenswear (pictured above) that was there to get a better foothold into the US market, and Abigail Sample of the Hatch Showrooom in Los Angeles, who was representing the Goava collection, a line of detail-rich 100% cotton hoodies, tanks, pants and tunics by designer Dori Hurwitz.

D&A was also notable for labeling certain exhibitors as either Green Conscious (less than 25% sustainable) or Green Leaf (25% or more sustainable).

Ethical styles were also spotlighted at the “So Ethic” fashion show of five brands at The Train’s (thetrainnewyork.com) show-within-a-show, Platform, which included 50 international bridge and contemporary collections this season. The “regular” Train area featured a wide international mix of about 75 women’s ready-to-wear and accessories collections, including five from Romania. The Train, like D&A, also ran Saturday to Monday and featured at its entrance a large, charming exhibition of 80 Minnie Mouse dolls created by top designers and artists.

— Christopher Blomquist, US Bureau Chief

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