Denim for Days

There is a lot of excitement surrounding denim fashion right now, especially with so many styles trending. From grungy to artsy to sexy and everything in between, its versatility makes it a must-have in any wardrobe. Check out these latest denim trends to add to your inventory.

Frayed Seams, Edges and Destruction
Distressed and destructed denim continues to cement its position in the fashion world using messy fraying to accent seams and edges and bring attention to hems.

Mavi_1539_000

From left to right: House of Harlow/La Belle Vie, Hudson Jeans, Mavi Jeans, Inc.

Retro Blocking
Retro blocking with denim carries over from last season with a few additions. Various shades and hues of blue are pieced together in differing shapes and sizes to form unique, eye-catching patterns, giving a twist to otherwise plain pants and jackets.

From left to right: DL 1961 Premium Denim, Mavi Jeans, Inc.

Festival-Ready
This trend is set apart by floral embroidery and color-blocking, with printed fabric used to highlight sleeves, front and shoulder flaps and pockets.

From left to right: Desigual/Vaccarelli & Associates, Inc., Desigual, Elan International

Stylish Inspiration: Kayne Gillaspie of Johnathan Kayne

Johnathan “Kayne” Gillaspie is the President and Creative Director of Johnathan Kayne. Born and raised in Nashville, TN, he became enamored by fashion by watching his favorite country music legends perform and walk the red carpet. Two stints on Project Runway (season 3 in 2006 and All Stars season 2 in 2012) plus appearances on ABC, Bravo, E!, NBC, TLC and The Style Network have earned him celebrity designer status and a roster of star clients. Heidi Klum dubbed him a “genius designer” and Michael Kors lauded him as “a designer who knows how to make clothes and fit a woman’s body.” Stars across the entertainment spectrum including Jennifer Lopez, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Kelly Pickler, Tanya Tucker, Lee Brice, Rascal Flatts and his favorite country legend Dolly Parton have worn his designs. He is a magna cum laude graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology.

Kayne showcases gowns in his Johnathan Kayne showroom

We caught up with Kayne as he prepared his largest Fall collection to date for the April 2017 VOW | New World of Bridal Market.

Tell us about your creative process.

When I design, I really think about the woman. In social occasion, it is so important to know your customer. Where is she going? What is she thinking? What does she want to look like and how does she want to feel?

If my customer is wearing a social occasion gown, it’s because this is an important day or evening for her.  We have the girl who has been nominated for the Homecoming Court, the woman hosting a gala and the pageant contestant who has a shot at the title. Or maybe it’s her first time wearing gown.

I keep all of this in mind and once I see fabrics, I put everything into place.

What is the design cycle?  

I start on the Fall collection right after the Spring show closes. For this collection, I started earlier than ever – I actually spent 200 percent more time on it!

In October, I created the sketches for the gowns and sent them and my mood boards to my factory.

In January, I went to the factory to see how everything was coming together.

We received the samples in March. We photographed them and prepped them to show to our buyers at Market.

Where do you see social occasion fashion going?

The biggest shift is in the new generation. Designers have to have something new and innovative to keep them interested. Social media shows consumers something beautiful and inspirational all the time, so we have to keep up.

We stick to our guns by creating the sexy gowns that we are known for, while innovating the construction. For example, one of our new gowns has a hidden zipper in the plunge that makes it versatile and work for multiple women. We also have convertible pieces that can change up the look of the gown so it can be worn multiple times while looking fresh and new.

What are your three tips for success for social occasion retailers?

  1. Look at the girl’s body and how she is built. Know your gowns’ construction so you can make recommendations that will flatter her the most.
  2. Talk to the customer and see what her vision is for her gown. Ask what she is dead set on and what can be compromised. Then go the extra mile to get her exactly what she wants.
  3. Do it with grace and be good to people. Truly be humble and thank your customers for their business. Do it with a smile.

Johnathan Kayne is located on Building 3, Floor 10-E332.

Spotting Ready-to-Wear Trends on the Bridal Runway

Bridal styles are driven by trends just like their ready-to-wear counterparts. Similar trends in construction and styling are seen across the fashion spectrum.

See how bridal and social occasion gowns spotted on the VOW | New World of Bridal runway relate to women’s apparel trends for Autumn/Winter 2017/2018 as identified by international trend authority WGSN.

ROUGH RUFFLES
Raw edges give ruffles a little more attitude.

From left to right: Roz La Kelin, Enzoani, Black Label Couture

NUPTIAL NYMPHS
Romantic florals and lace fit for a woodland fairy queen.

From left to right: Forever Unique, Jovani Fashion, Moonlight

SEASONAL COLOR
Taking a cue from fall foliage with red and orange hues, augmented by a little sparkle.

From left to right: Moonlight, Jovani Fashion, Black Label Couture

YOUNG VICTORIA
Black lace, romantic cuts and gothic styling for a new Victorian age.

From left to right: Rina di Montella, Elani Elias, Elani Elias

SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND
Crystals, rhinestones, beading, sequins and metallic yarns give a subtle sparkle.

From left to right: Badgley Mischka, Allure Bridesmaids, Calla Blanche

SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN
Monochromatic fabrics in simple cuts with minimal detailing.

From left to right: Alyce Paris & Caplet – Forever Unique, House of Wu, Forever Unique

VOW ǀ New World of Bridal is April 4 – 6. Join us a day early for our Bridal Educational Seminar Series. We’ll kick of at 2 p.m. with Sal Macaluso of eStyleCentral.com discussing “Making the Most of Marketing to Mothers”, followed by Wendy Rivera’s Do You Speaker Bride? at 3 p.m. and finish out at 4 p.m. with Liene Stevens of ThinkSplendid, discussing “The Trophy Kids Get Hitched: How to Sell to Millennial Brides”! Then, ou VOW Experts Panel begins at 5 p.m. and is followed by our Kickoff Reception.

A Pinch of Green

1. Leftbank Art Co. 2. Lacefield/J Douglas, Inc. 3. Accessory Drawer 4. Mills Floral & Home 5. Veritas/Veronica Flam 6. Global Views 7. Daniel Richards 8. CODARUS 9. Mr. Brown 10. Yedi Houseware 11. Hobo

Shop products in every color from select showrooms open year-round and during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market,® July 11 – 18, 2017.

March 6 is National Dress Day

Share your favorite dress memories using #NationalDressDay

national-dress-dayThe inaugural National Dress Day takes place on Monday, March 6, and is a holiday intended for reliving dress memories from proms to birthdays to weddings. On this day, everyone is invited to post pictures of their best moments in their favorite dress on Facebook and Instagram (@NationalDressDay) using #NationalDressDay.

National Dress Day was founded by Ashley Lauren, founder and designer of the ASHLEYlauren collection, as a way to relive and celebrate our dearest dress memories. “I have fond memories wearing dresses and I realized that dresses hold such powerful emotions for women,” said Ashley Lauren about founding the national holiday. “I remember the dresses I wore to my prom, first job interview, first date, competing in a pageant, my first red carpet event, the list goes on. This is a fun day to cherish and celebrate those memories. To me this day is about empowering women to celebrate our femininity and cherish memories of wearing dresses. It’s the women and their stories behind the dresses that make this day so special.”

No matter what style dress it is, National Dress Day can be celebrated in many ways.  So on March 6, don’t forget to post your favorite dress memories or, if you don’t have any, put on your heels and favorite dress and make some.

Visit NationalDressDay.com for more information.

Purchasing with a Purpose

AmericasMart buyers can take good work to heart
By Mandy Roth

Today’s consumers expect more from the companies they buy from and the products they use in their homes. They desire attributes beyond function and beauty; they want to make the world a better place by purchasing products with a purpose. Many AmericasMart exhibitors include philanthropy as a major tenet of their businesses, offering end consumers an opportunity to contribute to a greater good.

Half United; Full Commitment
Half United founders Carmin Black and her brother Christian didn’t set out to better the world through their professional lives. Yet that is exactly the path they now navigate. Each purchase of one of their company’s apparel items or accessories provides food to hungry children. To date, their customers have made possible more than 200,000 meals for children in the United States and around the world.

“Everything we’ve been through in life led us to this point,” says Carmin, a former television reporter, who later worked as a public speaker for TOMS—the company that set new standards in corporate philanthropy by donating a pair of shoes to needy kids for each pair purchased.

All elements of her past coalesced during an enthusiastic speaking appearance. She recalled memories growing up as a pastor’s daughter in a family where every male member was in the clergy, as well as her mother’s endeavors in the fashion industry. She remembered the mission trips in which she and her brother participated. She was reminded of her service as her sorority’s philanthropic chairperson. The energy created by the combination of charity, business and brand passion fused for her in front of that audience. It was one of those moments that changed everything that happened next.

She placed a call to Christian, who was in L.A. trying to launch an apparel business, suggesting that they join forces to create a company with a charitable focus. They borrowed $200 from their mother and the venture has grown in the years since. They now sell a variety of goods, including jewelry and T-shirts. Some of their most popular items feature recycled bullet casings, turning a symbol of harm into a sign of hope, representing their fight against hunger.

TOMS, Carmin believes, cracked the code that unites business and philanthropy by communicating the impact each consumer has on the world by buying one of their products. For Half United, that unique formula means that each time a product is purchased, seven children receive meals. “Hunger is something every human can relate to,” says Carmin.

The founders closely vet the charities they work with around the world. On a trip to Haiti, for instance, they examined the operations of Papillion Enterprise, an organization that employs local artisans to make some of the jewelry Half United sells, providing a source of income so impoverished parents can feed their children.

Carmin insisted on accompanying one of the workers home, a journey down dirt roads and over a ravine filled with trash and goats. They eventually entered a shantytown, navigating four-foot wide alleys through the shacks. When they arrived at the worker’s home, the mother shifted a plywood door to the side, proudly showing off her kitchen, featuring charcoal on a dirt floor. “Where do you sleep?” queried the entrepreneur. The woman revealed a second room where her children slept on packing materials—the same ones used by the charitable organization to ship jewelry to Half United. “My heart hurt for them,” says Carmin, who purchased proper mattresses for the family before leaving the country.

While Carmin and her brother are literally in the trenches at times, she points out that the retailers who sell Half United’s products—and the consumers who buy them—are the ones making the difference. “You have no idea how much your purchase matters in the lives of people around the world. Ultimately, you are the ones feeding people; we just facilitate that transaction.”

Sari Bari: Rescue From the Red Light
When secondhand saris gain new life as accessories and home goods, the women in India who make these products secure access to freedom from lives in the sex trade. The extraordinary goods available through Sari Bari offer employment opportunities for women who want to escape the red light district of Kolkata, India, as well as young women in outlying villages, who are vulnerable to being trafficked.

Each blanket, handbag, accessory or baby item is sewn using the traditional Kantha stitch, unique to the creator’s personal style. No two pieces are identical. Living in India, Sari Bari founder Sarah Lance established the company a decade ago when she personally witnessed the plight of these women and determined she would do something to make a difference in their lives. Goods are sold in the U.S. through a non-profit organization.

Today’s consumers are interested in one-of-a-kind products and want to know the stories behind the things they purchase, explains Merilee Rowe, the company’s sales and operations manager. Sari Bari deepens that connection because the 120 women the company employs stitch their names inside the items they create. During their first year of training, they are known generically as “Mukti.” After the first year, each graduates to using her own name. Their “freedom birthday” is celebrated annually, and employees are given opportunities to rise into management, providing further opportunities for a better life.

“Sari Bari products are special because retailers and consumers know the products are directly tied to impacting a women on the other side of the world,” says Merilee. “That artisan is creating something beautiful, and you are empowering her to do that by purchasing her product.”

Imagine Home: Third World Artisans; First World Designs
When interior designer Staci Lantz toured South Africa with the founder of TOMS Shoes in 2007, she was inspired by his company’s commitment to social responsibility. She returned with a new plan for her life, an idea to add a greater sense of purpose to her profession and an approach to American consumerism that would contribute to the betterment of others.

She’s spent her time since touring the world, meeting artisans in communities where she could source creations conceived by her, along with her design partners. The result is Imagine Home, a collaborative effort between third-world artisans and first-world designers.

The company takes first world product designs and commissions impoverished people in artisan communities around the world to handcraft the items. “By using our industry experience in design, we create a product that is desirable to consumers; by commissioning people in need, we create an income-generating opportunity for them,” according to Imagine Home’s website. The 2016 collection includes lighting, rugs, tabletop, upholstery and bedding from Haiti, Peru, Africa and India. Many items feature 100 percent organic and recycled materials. Also in the line-up: hand-knitted baby alpaca bedding and handsome horn and bone products.

“Staci has spent time in each of the communities we work with, as well as with each artisan, developing the product with them,” says Katie Gable, Imagine Home’s showroom manager at AmericasMart. “Instead of purchasing a product that is mass produced, each item we offer is individually created by someone’s hand. The buyer may never meet the artisan, but there is a connection back to them and you are contributing to the economy in their communities across the world.”

Stephen Joseph: A Connection with Kids
When Rick Taylor, president of Stephen Joseph, returns home each evening, he has a wonderful reminder of the good things his company is doing in the world. His daughter was adopted from a Russian orphanage that his business supports through its philanthropic efforts.

Giving back is something this company takes seriously. Established 30 years ago as a sorority products specialist, it grew and diversified over time into a variety of businesses. Stephen Joseph is the parent company, as well as the name of its successful kids lifestyle brand. In 2013, executives decided to bolster the business’ charitable endeavors, and sought to support organizations that focused on kids. One recent initiative raised $250,000 from the sale of certain products, with donations contributed to No Kid Hungry, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Little Kids Rock.

Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph

Karma, the company’s lifestyle brand, which features popular handbags, accessories, home and travel products, gives five percent of its gross sales to numerous charities, including the Russian orphanage. Other endeavors include providing filtered water in Nepal; paying teacher’s salaries a school in a poverty stricken area of Cambodia; and supporting Food Backpacks for Kids, which provides weekend food to kids in need. In addition to special projects, the company makes ongoing donations to organizations such as the American Diabetes Association.

“Given the choice between two similar products, if one has a ‘give back’ component, it affects the end-consumer’s buying habits,” says Rick. “It’s a selling point for buyers to communicate information about where a portion of consumers’ money is going.” While the executive is enthusiastic about all the charities his company supports, the ones that tug at his heartstrings are focused on children. “We love kids,” he says. “They don’t have the ability to help themselves, so we are passionate about helping them.”


For more information: Imagine Home; Half United – halfunited.com; Sari Bari – saribari.com; and Stephen Joseph – stephenjosephgifts.com

Images courtesy of Stephen Joseph, Sari Bari and Half United

Pearl Glam

A fresh perspective on a classic accessory
By Poormina Apte

Accessory Drawer

Accessory Drawer

You can credit Chanel or Jason Wu. Or Downton Abbey. Whatever the reason, pearls are enjoying a renewed interest and dominating lookbooks and fashion runways. But these aren’t your grandmother’s staid single strands. Mixed with a variety of other jewels and worked onto unexpected canvases such as leather and metals, pearls are being reimagined for the contemporary woman.

While this is good news for fashionistas everywhere, the expansive variety of pearls means retailers need to know what to look for and how to tell real from faux, with both having favor. We dive into the basics.

The Basics
Naturally occurring pearls are increasingly rare. Most of those on the market are cultured pearls, derived when farmers artificially introduce irritants into oysters and mollusks. Cultured pearls are further subdivided by the types of waters in which they sourced: saltwater or the more common freshwater. Pearls also are classified by the regions in which they are cultured. Examples include Akoya pearls from Japan; South Sea grown in large saltwater tropical oysters; and Tahitian pearls.

Then there are glass beads that are polished and coated to look like pearls. This thin coating eventually wears off so retailers are advised to source their pearls from reputable vendors. The Cultured Pearl Association of America recommends sliding the strand across your mouth as a test, fake pearls glide while the real ones are gritty from the nacre or the irritant around which the pearl forms.

The Criteria

Kinzig Design Home

Kinzig Design Home

Traditionally, best pearls are perfectly round, have a high lustre and are free of imperfections. Of various factors used to evaluate pearls, lustre is the most important according to Susie Kinzig of Kinzig Design who has ventured into creating jewelry.

Other criteria include surface, shape, size and color. While freshwater pearls often come in irregular forms, they are creatively worked into creative designs and offer a fresh spin, says Kinzig, who works pearls into industrial romantic kinds of designs for an updated contemporary touch.

The Updates
Celebrity stylist and jewelry expert Michael O’Connor, cites an interest in past eras (Mad Men, anybody?) as driving pearl demand, which in turn translates into vintage inspirations on the runways an in top fashion houses. But today’s look is more “in-your-face” he says.

Girl With A Pearl

Girl With A Pearl

Girl With A Pearl’s Bohemian line work pearls into leather and suede for looks that can be dressed up or down. Pearl blogger India Rows says chainmail styles with pearls are another look retailers should look for when searching for new products.

For example, Deniz Zizzi of Accessory Drawer sees designers such as Beth Greenberg mixing pearls with sterling silver chains.

“We think the pearl is the perfect touch to our handmade jewelry, taking something vintage and turning it into something new and fresh,” says Laurel George of The Vintage Pearl.

These fresh perspectives make pearls more attractive to women who used to dismiss them strictly as old-fashioned jewelry. And while pearls can be expensive, pieces with single pearls or freshwater options worked into leather lariats or sterling silver can be surprisingly affordable as well as fashionable.

“Women wear pearls with T-shirts, flowy blouses and cocktail dresses from brunch and work to an evening event,” Zizzi says, “Nowadays pearls are an everyday basic that fit effortlessly in the jewelry closet.”


For more information: Accessory Drawer – accessorydrawer.com, 888.209.8432; Girl With a Pearl – girlwithapearl.com, 615.767.1972; India Rows – 706.850.5296; Kinzig Design – kinzigdesign.com, 650.952.6006; Michael O’Connor – styleandsubstance.com; The Vintage Pearl – 918.935.3254; thevintagepearl.com

Images courtesy of Accessory Drawer, Girl With A Pearl, Kinzig Desig and The Vintage Pearl