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*Cheryl Nowak’s Big Apple Diary*





HI All,

Most U.S. economists believe that retail sales will be flat to modest increases of 2 to 3% once all the final numbers are tallied. In fact once you add in gift card sales which rose 8.1% over last year plus holiday shopping on line spending by consumers for the Holiday ‘ 04 season is actually higher than last year.

Retail sales rose 4.3% over last year in the week that ended December 25 according to the trade group International Council of Shopping Centers. That was a significant improvement over the first three weeks of December when disappointing results frightened some retailers who reacted by slashing prices to lure customers into their stores. Based on history it is now typical to see some weak spots in the weeks before Christmas since the season now stretches out from early in November into January. The customer does not feel as pressured to do all their shopping in the two to three weeks before December 25….an extended shopping season that is certain to boost the bottom line. Overall retailers are expected to come out just fine.

So I am sure you want to know the big winners of the season….. I am happy to report that most were called out in this Diary over the past few weeks;

– Gift cards were the Christmas seasons #1 winners and certainly will contribute to post Christmas sales volume as shoppers are eager to redeem them and take advantage of clearances that will continue into February.



In Ladies Apparel luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus, Nordstoms and Barneys lead the pack as the clear winners .
Key item wise the best sellers of the season were;



– High end handbags driven by color, metallic and exotic skins whether real or fake from Prada, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan, Juicy Couture and the house check saddle bag from Burberry & the fascination with Louis Vuitton continues.


– Better jewelry driven by diamonds

– Brooches at all price points in crystal, hematite black diamonds,colored stones like greens, citrines & browns plus faux coral from Kenneth Jay Lane,  R.J. Graziano , White House /Black Market

– Ponchos in sweater knits, shearling

– Cashmere sweaters driven by promotional private label programs at JC Penney, Kohls, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Macys and
fresh new novelty styles which sold at regular price at Banana Republic, Talbots & resort brights at Polo / Ralph Lauren, bed jackets from Dana Buchman, embellished cardigans from Sigrid Olsen.



– Boots especially fur trimmed  and shearlings from Ugg , lots of Ugg copies at every price,  DKNY


– Denim product in cropped jackets and jean bodies from Seven, Levi, Lucky, Diesel, Guess

– Contemporary sportswear from Barneys, Laundry, Juicy Couture velour track suits

– Fur ( real & faux) trimmed anything….sweaters, accessories, ponchos, boots

– Velvet blazers some trimmed with rhinestone brooches or buttons from Laundry, H&M, Inc, Ann Taylor, GAP & Old Navy

– Color drove business in apparel and accessories with pink, lavender and green as the big winners

– Embellished apparel and accessories especially handbags and sequined scarfs at Gap

Consumer interest  in Electronic items were also drove sales with techy gadgets du jour;

–  Plasma and LCD flat panel TV’s

– Digital cameras from Canon

– iPods and other MP3 players from Apple

– Nintendos

Fragrance as usual was important for Holiday with celebrity newcomers boosting sales from Britney Spears “Curious” perfume and Donald Trump “the fragrance” for men.

As a last note … the most encouraging news comes from successful sales of early Spring ‘ 05 deliveries from better and contemporary resources so the Happy New Year looks to continue at retail !!! 

Wishing all of you a Happy 2005,


HI All,

As we are coming down the homestretch for Christmas business most retailers are fighting aggressively for every sale they can get….there is a glimmer of hope as 2004 does offer two extra selling days vs Christmas 2003.
The impetus of post Christmas traffic should help in meeting sales projections. Sure to generate sales activity are one of the best sellers this season…”gift cards” specific to just about any department or specialty store or mass merchant, restaurants, Starbucks, electronic stores….you name it they have a gift card available. These are certain the ring the register for post Christmas sales.

Overall high end luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus continue to lead the pack with booming business while the mass channel lead by Wal-Mart stumbles. There is one common denominator however…as predicted the customer is reacting to glitz, bling & embellishment at every price point…fur trimmed items either real or faux lead the pack followed by leather goods specifically embellished handbags. The customer just adores sequins and is scooping them up in RTW or accessories. Also key to accessory sales are brooches and charm bracelets. In the fragrance arena celebrity is selling with Britney Spears’ Curious perfume and Donald Trumps’ mens’ fragrance both new entries in the market as the clear leaders. 

I promise to give you the best sellers by category next week once the results are tallied.

Since my last Diary focused on a Spring ‘ 05 review of big ideas for Ladies apparel thought it was high time to give the guys some equal time so here goes……
following are the most important Spring ‘ 05 ideas for Men’s Apparel….

Overall the Spring ‘ 05 season for Menswear revolves around color, pattern and a new way of pulling things together. The men’s customer is more exposed to fashion than ever before…it is now socially acceptable for a man to pay attention to his looks and what he wears. This awareness has been encouraged by new popular television shows namely “Queer Eye on the Straight Guy”, a wealth of new grooming products, new men’s magazines like “Cargo” and selling floors impacted by newness. Following in the footsteps of the Ladies market Men’s vendors are finally giving the customer something he does not own actually making him excited about the newness. Stores in conjunction with their key vendors are improving presentation standards to insure the “looks” are pulled together on the selling floor to educate the ultimate customer on how to wear it.

The big picture for Menswear Spring ‘ 05 season;

1) Color – Spring 2004 proved “real men do wear pink” and other colors as well setting up Spring 2005 as the season for color. Midtones include watermelon, pink azalea and rose; citrus tones like lime, orange and lemon yellow; deep shades of turquoise and mulberry; shades of green and purple continue plus plenty of pastels anchored by whited and neutrals.  

2) Stripes – explosive and continue with new width variations and color combos. Particularly strong in woven shirts and knit polos & rugby bodies. Seersucker stripe fabrics are key in blazers and pants.

3) Prints and Pattern – checks, mini florals, dots with paisleys and geometric designs as the fashion layer. Plaids are strong especially when popped with new color infusion. Most important in woven shirts, printed camp shirts and casual bottoms in fancy patterns & plaids.


4) Dressing Up – tailored clothing areas continue to generate excitement. Suits, suiting separates , dress shirts and neckwear continue to trend. Opportunities for growth are geared to three customer types….the guy who never stopped wearing suits…the guy who has rediscovered dress up and the guy who is just discovering the importance of looking the part. Suddenly many Wall Street companies are back to “dressing up” rather than “dressing down” so men have to update & replace their wardrobes. Plus specialty stores like Banana Republic and Zara offer exciting suits and suiting separates for the contemporary customer opening up a new market.

5) Modern Male – the market is offering an assortment that targets the “younger in attitude” customer that is fashion right not fashion first. This is the “baby boomer” who is more fashion minded and has the disposable income to spend.

6) Opposites Attract – mix & match dressing continues to drive sales. This trend takes formal items and pairs them with casual everyday items. Most important looks include; suit jackets or novelty sportswear blazers with jeans, woven shirts worn with the shirttails out, dress shirts are revived pulling double duty as sport shirts.

7) Contemporary / Premium – two very important businesses that will gain momentum for Spring ‘ 05 and beyond. A definite extension of the Young Mens market as this customer who has been dressing up in their own stylized way grows up and enters the job market.The contemporary / premium markets are addressing this forward fashion consumer. Key looks are varied from the clean cut preppy to the anti fashion punk ( circa 1980) and authentic “retro” brands. This fashion fanatic is alive & well & spending money.  

The Menswear market continues to generate excitement and newness so will definitely be giving it some equal time as we progress into the Spring ‘ 05 season.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Christmas…..whether you have been “naughty or nice” hope your Christmas “must have” gift list will be fulfilled and your stockings have been stuffed with lots of bling and cheer. 

Until next week,




HI All,

In the midst of all the Christmas frenzy those of us in the fashion industry are concerned about meeting 4th quarter projections but simultaneously looking forward to the kick off of Spring ‘ 05. Certainly Holiday results & buying patterns will have an effect on Spring assortments but the framework is already in place with adjustments to be made from any significant buying patterns that emerge from Holiday sales trends.

New resort looks are already on the floor ….savvy shoppers will cherry picked these selections to find the “piece” to update their already tiresome fall wardrobes and give them a stylish head start on Spring.

Most important Spring ‘ 05 ideas by category include;

1) Lingerie inspired tops in both woven & knit categories. This goes forward from Fall/Holiday….it’s ladylike  and sexy with a dash of vintage charm
– Key woven fabrics: satin , charmeuse, georgette & crinkle. Embellishments of sequins, beads, embroideries and lace trims remain strong. Most important bodies are empire, floaty A lines, halters, baby doll styles, bra tops, camisoles and surplus.
– Key knit fabrics: mesh, stretch lace, spring weight cashmeres. There are lots of embellishments, embroidery,lace inserts, tulle or georgette raw edge trims, and rouching used on fronts, sides or shoulders.

2) Tunic bodies in wovens and knits as the “Boho” trend continues its momentum
– Woven fabrics: gauze, voile, georgette/chiffon, charmeuse. A full range of solids, prints ( native African & animal patterns), embellished, decorated & lace trims. Lots of tribal beading. Bodies are baby dolls, surplus, asymmetrical hemlines.
– Knit fabrics: cotton & cotton stretch blends, rayon/spandex in mostly solids both embellished, Moroccan mirrored and clean.
More slim silhouettes, baby dolls, surplus, rouched, exposed back interest.
– Elongated tunics become vintage caftans to be worn with flats, boots or as beach cover ups.


3) Skirts continue to be an important category.
– Key woven fabrics are voile, gauze, poplin, rayon blends and cotton knits
– Decorated looks lead the trend with sequins, beading & embroidery. There are lots of eyelet, lace and petticoat tulle trims.
– Solid and Printed styles newest in scenic and chain link patterns with sequins & beading
– Bodies are circle skirts with full sweeps,& very flirty crinkled / broomsticked, layered, flouncy tiered, emphasis on waists in drop & decorated waist treatments, pleated V yoke details.
– There are 3 important lengths; knit styles are short & long while wovens are mid (right below the knee) to long.

4) Jackets  are newest in solid tapestry or brocade with an ornate yet vintage feeling
– Boucle & tweeds will continue but with new details.Denim remains a definite Spring crowd pleaser with the wrap body as a leader. 
– Newest bodies are shaped and shorter. The lady coat or topper length remains important
– The safari jacket is re-invented.
– Corsage, brooch and jewelry decoration is everywhere.

5) Novelty Tees are a staple in all wardrobes
– Newest are tie dye and ombre definitely support the “Boho” trend. The hoodie body also remains key
Tatoo inspired screens
– Vintage looks & screens

6) Denim a definite staple for every customer type
– Heavily destructed washes for the Junior & Contemporary customer
– There is a movement away from all stretch to some rigid
– Variety in lengths;
Pants/shorts:crop, turnback cuff, smaller cuff, bermuda (right above knee),capri or pedal pusher (right below knee), traditional shorts for Juniors with 2 1/2 – 3″ inseams, roll cuff shorts.

The color message is definitely greens, turquoise, corals, pink, yellow and watch out for browns as the season sleeper.

This is only the first glimpse of Spring 2005 as we needed a break from Holiday pandemonium.  I will continue to update as resort sales are available and U.S stores refocus Spring direction.

Till next time……Happy Christmas shopping,


Hi All,

The holiday 2004 shopping season kicked into full gear last Friday on the day after Thanksgiving. This day is fondly referred to as
“Black Friday” by U.S. retailers because the surge of shoppers supposedly pushes stores into profitability for the year. Wall Street agrees that  2004 has marked an improving yet still challenging economy so many merchants tried to be more creative in their effort to lure the customer.

To get a bigger share of consumer’s dollars retailers nationwide threw open their doors before the crack of dawn on Friday.
Many chains opened their doors anywhere from half hour to an hour earlier in a bid to secure consumer spending…..Wal Mart, Sears, Kmart, JC Penney, and Kohls threw open their doors at 5:30 am while Target opted for 6:00 am with a very clever ad campaign encouraging prospective customers to register on their website for “wake up call” service. Department stores Macys and  Lord & Taylor took a more conservative approach with a 7:00 am opening.




Whether department store or mass merchant everyone pumped up the amount of early bird specials made available to the customer if they shopped in the wee hours. I must admit that I was not a an early morning participant but opted to watch news reports with my coffee cup in hand showing overcrowded parking lots and customers queuing up at 4:30 am. So positive sales results on Friday validated that the customer did respond.

Results for Friday were respectable with increases in the mid-single digits, better than anticipated. On Saturday most stores meet projections reporting sales were unchanged to up mid-single digits. Traffic did slow down for the balance of the weekend. Big chains like JC Penney & Sears were pleased with sales results. The big loser was Wal Mart who traditionally is the industry leader. They had a disappointing  performance which resulted in the company lowering its sales forecast for November. So what happened to them this year…well apparently sales suffered because they did not offer the deep discounts it did in past years in a effort to boost profits. Well that was the wrong move as their competitors had improved sales by wooing customers in with two days worth of big price breaks and doorbusters.

Overall many retailers stated that their stores are equal to or slightly less promotional than last year. In fact buying patterns did show that customers were purchasing regular price as well as sale items which isn’t too shabby. For department and specialty stores the ideal situation will be to hold off mass markdowns until the last week before Christmas. But for now they remain positive yet cautious.

Leading items and categories included gift cards, electronics: DVD players, flat screen TV’s & miniature iPods from Apple, cashmere sweaters, fur trim tops & accessories, diamonds, handbags, boots & contemporary sportswear. As predicted luxury and “one of a kind” exclusive items lead the pack.

Macys NY sales were driven by cold weather accessories, color across all apparel & accessories categories…lots of pink & greens, cashmere sweaters in Ladies & Mens, iPods and gourmet cookware.

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) reported denim both ladies & mens ,as well as fleece tops , mens woven shirts, & fur lined flip flops as best sellers.

– JC Penney best sellers included boxed jewelry sets, gold & diamonds, cold weather scarfs, hot pink leather gloves, boots, outerwear, fleece active wear, pet gifts, luxury items in cashmere, faux fur trim sweaters & rabbit fur ponchos.

– Sears had much success with its “doorbusters”; DVD players at $19.99, digital cameras at $49.99,  Ladies & Mens sweaters at
50 -60% off, outerwear at 60 -70% off, fine jewelry diamond, ruby,emerald & sapphire bracelets with an original $599.99 price were being promoted at $179.99. Fashion novelty sales in Ladies are coming from striped ponchos & brooches.



Target continued to sell fashion at a price with Isaac Mizrahi apparel & shoes leading the pack along with electronics, bath & fragrance sets

Bergdorf Goodman New York City’s ultimate luxury retailer reported that their regular core customers as well as lots of tourists did not disappoint them scooping up lots of luxury & “one of a kind” pieces in contemporary sportswear, accessory, jewelry & outerwear. Some of the biggest hits are mink handbags with dragon embellishments at $1,480 and cashmere shrugs in a faux leopard print at $2,200.
Mind you contrary to the rest of the world there were virtually no sales promotions in this store. It was all about unique product at regular price.

So it’s official…. Black Friday is but a pleasant memory and New York City is in full Christmas frenzy. The Christmas windows are in place and the Rockefeller Center tree is lit so all the retailers need is customer traffic. This is NYC the place to be for Christmas spirit so the customer traffic is inevitable but the # 1 question on the retailers mind is
will they be spending $$$$$???
Although the first weekend of the season is important and remains a key barometer it is not as critical as the last 10 days before Christmas.
To be continued……

Until next week,



HI All,

Big Apple retailers are in the final days of the countdown to (hopefully)  massive holiday traffic….the mood is upbeat as 3rd quarter results for many department and specialty stores as well as mass merchants who have met sales expectations or are slightly below. October results did show a definite recovery from September hurricanes plus election day anxieties have been forgotten for the moment in lieu of Holiday spirit..

The key to retail success this season will most certainly be to maximize sales but other initiatives include making inventory productive by keeping pace with the ever changing needs of a broader customer base.This year growth lies with two distinctive customer segments; the younger customer and the better customer.  The trick has always been to provide the right degree of the right product at the right time in the right place at the right price. Easier said then done but it is the plan that retailers today must aspire to in order to increase sales & speed up stock turn.

Retailers have taken a cautious approach and are taking no chances. There is increased store visibility via TV, store catalogs & magazine advertising campaigns touting their particular store as the “Gift Headquarters”.
In fact this is the luxest season in ages with lots of luxury fabrics, sparkle & bling!!!

Most notable ad campaigns this season appeal to all customer types at every price level;
GAP...”How do you wear it …How do you share it?”
American Eagle Outfitters…”Good friends – Good Times – Great Gifts”
Macys.…”What are you giving – way to shop”
Banana Republic...”Happy Giving – From:You To: the Ones You Love”
Ann Taylor...” I am Gifted – Giving …Ann Makes it Easy”.
Saks. 5th Ave..“The Gift” catalog which is 250 pages of limited edition gifts featuring fresh design talent from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) A really brilliant idea to showcase up & coming design talent.







So what are the most wanted gifts for Holiday 2004 ..how do you give the luxe & bling….keep reading……

Cashmere sweaters & accessories: hats, gloves,mufflers- this category was highly successful last Christmas so naturally every store has pumped up the selections with particular emphasis on their Private label product in 2 ply cashmere to offer luxury at a price.
Good news is that at least style selections have been expanded so you have a choice of the classic sweater set , turtlenecks and crews but newest update/contemporary bodies include off the shoulder, shrugs, hoodies, tie fronts,wraps, fashion cardigans, ponchos and lots of cable knits.

This past week stores like Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Macys, Ann Taylor & even TJ Max have started to promote their cashmere programs at $49.99 – $ 169.99 as they are taking no chances. However specialty retailers like Banana Republic & Talbots are very brave with newly arrived selections of fashion cashmere styles at regular price.

Fabulous Fur both faux & real dominate accessory must haves –  fox or mink neckpieces, collars,& wraps…throw them over your cashmere sweater!!!, rabbit capelets & boleros, trimmed / reversible puffer vests, shearling ponchos,”nanook” fur lined boots in shearling & Mongolian lamb trims, handbags in leopard print ,shearling & rabbit, suede shearling mules/clogs, trimmed gloves & mittens.

Sequins  the #1 bling –  embellished sweaters, embellished boucle ladycoats, A-line or bias skirts,scarfs, framed clutch handbags, georgette or satin dresses & mesh tank tops

Fashion watches can build a wardrobe from $40 – $145 retail – another very successful category from last Christmas has even more choices this year…cocktail watches with real diamonds or Swarovski crystals, embellished faces with pearls & color stones, tie dye lizard bands, embossed alligator leather bands. Leather bands are in fabulous mid tones & brights.

Shiny fabrics in satin, silk charmeuse & brocade – lingerie tank tops, A line or asymmetrical skirts, the shift dress, brocade re-incarnated with a touch of stretch in sheath dresses, jackets & lady coats,  satin & brocade handbags in delicate evening bags, cargo & hobo styles

# 1 featured bling item is a Brooch…especially those that are vintage in feeling. This is featured at every price point so it is very affordable & amazingly enough all customers understand the concept. Pearl clusters, Swarovski crystals, semi precious & fake colored stones, the “bee pin”, star burst patterns, Western inspired turquoise stones ( go forward even stronger for Spring’ 05)

Of course as of this week there are categories that offer a gift purchase at a permanent markdown already ……
– Outerwear which traditionally is marked down in mid October has taken yet one more hit at 25-40% off

– 1st Fall Clearance of  Designer / Bridge sportswear at 50-65% off at Lord & Taylor, Macys, Bloomingdales- labels include: Ellen Tracy, Calvin Klein, DKNY / Donna Karan, Dana Buchman , Ann Klein

Well that’s it for now .. I am ready to scourer the stores for the “must have” Christmas gifts for family & friends but there are so many temptations out there that I can’t help sneaking in a few “personals” for myself.

Until next week,




HI All,

It has been quite a frantic last 10 days for retailing in the US. Whether you are a U.S. retailer, clothing manufacturer or designer the only way to grow sales volume is through diversification….

Jones Apparel Group confirmed that they bought Barneys for $400 million. To bring you up to speed the Jones Apparel group is a branded manufacturer of ladies apparel so the purchase of a luxury retailer is certainly a marriage outside the norm. Their core business was in better labels ; Jones & Jones Sport, Signature .In the past few years they also ventured into the moderate market with labels such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Bandolino. Expansion into moderate pricepoints was a smart decision as it offers growth potential beyond the stagnant better business segment .

Will watch this progress very closely as Barneys has really lucked out since Jones Apparel has deep pockets and plans to expand the specialty stores fleet of flagships and smaller Co-op concept stores under the continued leadership of its CEO Howard Socol.
The US  social structure is such a dichotomy …sadly the poor are getting poorer but current US sales patterns have also shown that   the growth of luxury retailers ( ie; Neiman Marcus & Saks) continues to be an opportunity. Barneys offers fantastic growth potential. With current annual sales of $444.2 million the plans are to build this into a $1 billion business. …faithful Barneys’ customers look forward to their success!!

– Hottest news off the press is that Kmart has snatched up Sears for $11 million. This merger combines two of the most famous names in U.S. retailing who have both been struggling over the past few years. Of course the stock market is wondering if this is about retail or real estate …only time will tell.

The combined company is expected to have $55 billion in annual revenues; 2,350 full line and off mall stores and 1,100 specialty retail stores. Annual volume will trail only Wal-Mart and Target. This new company Sears Holdings will now have the branded labels to compete head to head with the likes of Wal-Mart. Both bring powerful brands to the merger: Kmart has been highly successful with the “Martha Stewart Living” brand in home textiles, bedding , decorative home etc. Meanwhile Sears acquired “Lands End ” catalog 2 years ago & has rolled out Ladies, Mens & Childrens apparel shops in selected Sears branches.This move saved the Sears apparel business. With the merger comes greatly expanded exposure for these key brands and a new customer base.

– Lastly let’s talk about fast fashion diversification ….on Friday 11/12 H&M launched its Karl Lagerfeld collection in about half of its 1,000 stores in U.S. and Europe. Of course those savvy New Yorkers are always on the cutting edge of fashion especially if it’s a bargain!!  Customers started queuing up outside the H&M NYC store locations at 7:00 am in anticipation of the 9:00 am store opening. Shipments were supposed to last several weeks but most of the merchandise sold out by late Friday. The hottest items for NY stores were the Lagerfeld screen printed silhouette tee shirt at $19.99, the sequins jacket at $129 and  the lace dress at $99.90. 
Karl might have disappointed a lot of customers but they will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next season!

So it has been a very busy time for retailers & manufacturers alike with lots of suprises ….who knows what will happen next?
I must make note of the fact that Thursday 11/25 is the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. The “biggies” in retailing are feeling upbeat and positive about meeting Holiday sales projections.
I will be closely following ( & shopping) to bring you up to date info on the NY retail scene during the Holiday season.

Till next week,


Hi Everyone,

As Thanksgiving holiday & the Macys’ parade approaches..which is the official kickoff of the Holiday ‘ 04 season..everyone is holding their breath in anticipation. There is cause for slight optimism as October retail results for same store sales (comps) were better than expected after a disappointing July, August & September performance. In all fairness lackluster sales in September were impacted by the consumers inability to get out & spend as hurricanes hit the East coast of the US. Thankfully temperatures across the US have turned cooler which has a positive impact on customer traffic & put them into a “holiday spending headset”.

US Specialty retailers turned in some of the most impressive same stores sales results for October with an average of + 6.1% comp most noteworthy performances came from ;
– American Eagle Outfitters Inc at + 31.7% comp (Teen/Junior customer)
– Bebe Stores Inc at +30.6% comp (Contemporary fit customer)
– Abercrombie & Fitch at 11.0% comp (Teen / Junior customer)
Chico‘s FAS the darling of the Baby Boomer crowd looks to be back on track with a +9.3% comp

Under the Department store group which had an average of + 2.7% comp for October looks like Luxury retailers can have a positive outlook as consumers still search out unique & “one of a kind” product;
– The Neiman Marcus group at + 13.6 % comp
– Saks Inc at +4.4 % comp
Also above average in Department stores were:
– Kohls at + 6.0% comp
– Federated at +4.0% comp

OK so these are encouraging results but are they a reliable trend for the Holiday ’04 season. Only time will tell as all NY Retail stores have peaked their merchandise stock selections and are ready for holiday customer traffic.

Here’s what you need to know about the NY fashion customer….she is savvy but fickle…this is a customer who regularly shops at luxury department stores like Saks ( to identify the “must have ” designer trends of the season), Macys ( with savings coupon in hand maybe they have been interpreted by the moderate to better Brand labels & are on sale! ) and Target ( A trendy place to shop & pick up an item from designer Isaac Mizrahi to complement the outfit) 

So what will be the fashion winners of the season…as retailers are fully aware of the sheer fickleness of the fashion customer  they realize everyone is their competition so fashion trends cross pollinate Specialty, Department & Mass merchant stocks in all RTW categories.

Here are my picks of the hottest trends ..the “got to haves” of the season….

the “Chanel like” tweed boucle jacket newest interpretation for holiday with velvet ribbons, raw edged sheer fabrics and metallic accents. Love the addition of brooches as a pin or buttons – this was a winner from Spring that continues its momentum through Holiday. This item can be found at all pricepoints from designer down to moderate. It is an item that transcends all customer types.

This jacket has become a classic but as a volume item could have a short life expectancy. The future looks dicey and it is doubtful that it can continue as a volume best seller through Spring’ 05. But we will see!

Fake fur mania- real fur is back but the synthetics are where it’s at in leopard, mink, beaver, raccoon and faux shearling – Influences in RTW categories; chubby bomber jackets & vests, fur trim collar & cuffs on sweaters. Big business potential in accessories with strength in handbags, separate fur collars, ponchos/capes & shoes:boots & clogs. Of course the “must have” Ugg shearling boot from last Fall continues ..if you cannot afford the original in real shearling then buy a copy there are so many available…remember it is the look that counts!

The ladylike blouse – a definite oldie but goodie as a category that died in the 80″s after the Dynasty girls Krystal & Alexis were no longer prime time makes a triumphant return.No longer are there oversized shoulders but soft tailoring influences from the 40’s & 50’s.

Key fabric is silk or poly silk charmeuse& satin in solids & prints. Princess seams give a fitted illusion & peter pan collars look fresh.Bodies range from long sleeve shirts to bare silhouettes tanks, babydolls & halters for the Contemporary customer. Lingerie inspired looks are the key. Of course there is lots of beading, brooch like embellishments & metallic colors for a true holiday statement.
This is a trend to watch for Spring as it offers volume for all customer types.

– The skirt category – continues in importance from the Spring season. Short tiered bodies for the comtemporary fit customer, assymetrical hemlines are still alive looking new in panne velvet, A -line bodies in solid silk charmeuse, pencil silhouettes continue in tweeds, leather & all over beading. The pleated skirt still clings to life in a variety of plaids but looks newest in flowy fabrics like silk charmeuse, chiffon & lame.

Denim jeans are a staple of all customer types. Even the less trendy update customer understands they are multi purpose. Just put them on with a “Chanel like boucle jacket” or a dressy blouse or a fur trimmed sweater & a pair of heels and off you go to a Holiday party.

Tweeds in jackets, skirt & pants- definitely not worn as head to toe suited looks. Mix a tweed jacket with a flowy silk skirt or pair up tweed pant or pencil skirt with a ladylike blouse & a cardigan sweater.

The poncho continues to drive sales in specialty & department stores. Newest holiday versions are in metallic fabrics, embellished with beads & fringe, fur trimmed & in bright colored suedes. Momentum continues to build in this category and all retailers are searching for new silhouettes to keep it alive through spring….perhaps the dolman or batwing will make a triumphant return???

Cardigan silhouettes –  this is not your Grandfather’s cardigan. Newest bodies are fitted not sloppy…often belted or wrapped.
The contemporary / trend customer likes them short as a shrug. Luxury yarns in Angora, cashmere and mohair blends dominate. 

– I want to draw attention to the importance of Accessory categories for Holiday. They can update an old outfit & they are great gifts.
Think bold, multi colored beads,& jewels…brooches are a key item, necklaces & bracelets in chunky beads or adorned with multiple charms, belts with  heavy silver & jewels. Fur ( real & fake) mufflers, scarfs, gloves .

– Of course the holiday season would not be complete without all the glitz…but somehow this year it looks fresh & saleable. 
Colors that look most exciting are the pinks ranging from pastels to raspberry to fushia, purple in regal jewel tones to pastels, blue in royal & turquoise, greens in forest, herb, apple & lime continues to look fresh & trendy. Metallics are always important at Holiday but bronze & gold colors in silk charmeuse & chiffon look fabulous.Chocolate brown looks great when paired with any of these accents.
Of course all your last year black pieces will enjoy a face lift when paired up with this seasons newest colors!

The Big Apple is ready for Holiday traffic so let’s hope the consumer is in a spending mood.

That’s all for now…until next time,

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