3 July 2017
Celebrity Style and Star Appeal All in Vogue at New York Fashion Show
Celebrity-inspired styles and ubiquitous star motifs were the talk of the New York Fame fashion show, with many exhibitors keen to follow the latest trends, while some looked on with bemusement at a few of 2017's more outré styles.
Catching the next big trend is, of course, a constant concern for exhibitors at fashion shows across the globe, with New York's Fame event no exception. Given the young contemporary market this particular show targets, celebrity fashion often proves to be the bellwether, with many exhibitors keeping a keen eye out for the next star-led style set to appeal to a wider audience.
One company with a particular track record in taking a lead from celebrity couture is Blue Blush Clothing, a Los Angeles-based women's fashion retailer. Explaining its approach to monitoring the fashions favoured by the famous, the company's spokesperson said: "We always try to keep up with what celebrities are wearing. If we see that someone matching our target demographic has adopted a certain style, we will try to copy it. Usually, these kinds of styles do really well for us.
"In particular, we try to 'keep up with the Kardashians', keeping a close eye on what they wear. There was one particular dress that Kylie Jenner wore last spring that we have now done in various prints and solids. It has been our number-one selling dress for the past 10 months or so. In total, some 60,000 to 80,000 of our customers have bought one or other version of it and the orders are still coming in."
Stars of a rather different kind were also proving to be popular at the event, with five-pointed star patterns widely featured on many clothing and accessory ranges. Highlighting why his own company – the Los Angeles-based Adeline clothing brand – had embraced this particular motif, Sales Representative Brandon Choi said: "Right now, the biggest thing in New York is the star, with anything featuring a star selling really well. It works on T-shirts, on dresses, on anything, frankly."
Coming a little more down to earth and floral prints and 'cold shoulder' tops were well represented around the hall, along with several styles tipped as future fashion favourites. Taking an overview of the items currently on trend, Natalie Asselstine, Sales and Brand Manager for Glam, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of made-in-the-US women's fashion, said: "Double-layered tops are doing really well, as are ruffled sleeves. We also do denim tencel [a sustainable fabric regenerated from wood cellulose], which is selling really well. Off-the-shoulder is really in too, as are tops with 'fray' and fun floral summer prints."
Another to comment on the popularity of two-fabric layer tops and ruffle sleeves was Brenda Chon, a Sales Representative for two Los Angeles clothing brands – Gilli and Le Lis. Picking up on a related regional variation, she said: "I would say ruffle sleeves, maxi skirts and miniskirts are all in demand at the moment. In the case of tops, we are currently selling a lot of mixtures, layering several different fabrics together. In the New York market, though, it is the maxi dress that has done really well for us."
In other developments, the distressed look, long popular as a style of jeans, has now also been embraced by manufacturers of T-shirts and tops. It is a move that seems to have surprised some, including Katie Moon, a Sales Representative for T-Party, a Los Angeles-based fashion wholesaler.
Clearly bemused, she said: "While a lot of people like cut-outs and distress, up until recently nobody would buy a T-shirt that had holes in it. Now, though, people are paying extra for that, which is crazy. Whatever I think, though, the vintage look and distressed styles are the most popular things at the moment."
As well as its celebrity-inspired best-sellers, Blue Blush Clothing was also finding success through several other styles, with its company spokesman saying: "The choker thing is in right now, with customers loving the choker that comes with a number of our dresses. Fishnet details are also on trend right now.
"Our maxi dresses are also finding a market at the moment. Overall, a lot of the lace-up, a lot of eyelets and tie-dye are all slowly coming back."
For T-Party, tie-dying was also proving to be a hit, with Moon saying: "Some 99% of our stuff is garment dyed. It's a plain, blank body, which we have then dyed. All our tie-dyes are hand tie-dye, making each piece completely unique."
As ever, many exhibitors tailored their New York collection to the particular tastes and preferences of the north-eastern US consumer. Identifying the region's particular peccadilloes, Moon said: "New York, Chicago and LA are all very trendy and they tend to want something very simple. Even if it is tie-dyed, they still won't go for crazy stuff. In Dallas and Atlanta, however, crazy is in. They want more vintage, something southern and something very 'cowboy'.
"Overall, the colours they want are completely different. In New York, they want black, white or something equally simple. In the south, though, they want something dark, boot-brown leather maybe or turquoise."
Striking a similar note, Dianne Lee, a Designer with Paper Moon, a Los Angeles-based vintage clothing boutique, said: "People on the East Coast tend to go for more of a grey and a black – the neutral tones. On the West Coast, though, I see people opting for a more a colourful palette and quite different styles. Here, I think people go for the more chic items, whereas, on the West Coast, there is more of a beachy vibe."
For Glam's Asselstine, certain trends, while popular across the country, work best in certain US regional markets, as well as for certain consumer demographics. Expanding on this, she said: "In Atlanta they like ruffles, but it varies from boutique to boutique depending on their actual client base. An older customer, for instance, might be very conscious of their arms, while a younger buyer would have no such qualms."
In the case of California's Adrienne clothing brand, the company was only too aware of the differences in regional preferences, with its spokesperson saying: "With knits, we sell more here. In Dallas and Atlanta, it's usually more the prints – the florals – that do well. As you can see, we have a lot of neon colours here, while in the south they are more into darker colours."
While differences in colour and cut were widely seen as important considerations for regional collections, sizing also plays a role with regard to orders destined for different parts of the US. Drilling down into these variations, Choi said: "First of all, the size ratios are all a little different. While all wholesalers will buy six pieces in one pack, New York customers prefer three small sized, two medium and one large. For the southern buyers in Atlanta and Dallas, they tend to have larger-size customers, so they want two small, two medium and two large. The southern buyers also want more flowery and more casual stuff."
These varying priorities have also been taken into account by Blue Blush Clothing, with its spokesperson saying: "The East Coast is definitely a little more edgy. On the West Coast, though, I think we have a mix of everything.
"Customers in Mexico and Central America, though, are more into floral prints and bodycon sexy dresses. Canadian customers, however, tend to be a little behind, so the styles current here probably won't appear there for another couple of months."
Overall, the mood at the event was a little mixed, with some exhibitors clearly happy with their reception, while others were more inclined to bemoan poor sales. Perhaps voicing the uncertainty of many, Asselstine said: "The past two shows we have attended were terrible, but this has been better. At the end of the day, though, the industry is changing and we are not sure how it's going to develop."
Fame 2017 was held at New York's Jacob K Javits Convention Center from 7-9 May. The event focussed on the ready-to-wear young contemporary market and featured more than 130 exhibitors.
James O'Donnell, Special Correspondent, New York