There’s a reason that the September issues of women’s fashion magazines are weighed down with ads and editorial spreads on coats, sweaters and boots: Fall fashion season is one of the hottest for retailers.
“In general, September is the third highest volume month of the retail year, behind December and November,” said Jesse Tron, director of communications and media relations for the ICSC.
Back-to-school shopping accounts for a big share of those hefty retail figures, but women’s ready-to-wear apparel and shoes also makes up a “huge part” of fall sales, Tron said.
The National Retail Federation doesn’t specifically break out sales of fall collections but research conducted by ICSC shows that between 2005 and 2013, women’s shoes and ready-to-wear apparel made up between 20.4 percent to 25.9 percent of mall sales during the months of September and October, compared with 16.6 percent to 22.9 percent between July and August.
“Fall is a big,” said Bergthold, who owns the two Tre Boutiques with her sister, Rochelle Johnson. “We, thank God, don’t (just) rely on December sales,” Bergthold said, estimating that the stores make about 60 percent of their sales from August to December, versus 40 percent from January to July.
National retail figures for September won’t be released for weeks, but ICSC’s Tron predicted they’d be healthy and bounce back following disappointing numbers for August.
While fashionistas would beg to differ, women’s apparel and shoes aren’t considered necessities, Tron said, and their sales are good economic bellwethers.
“Fashion is 100 percent discretionary and discretionary spending gives you a sense of how the economy is doing, how the consumer feels. When (women) are feeling good, they’re buying fashion.”
What women are seeing in stores are softer looks and fabrics, less structured and severe garments, slouchy, oversized jackets and bags, unconventional graphic prints and looser, flowing pants. Skirt lengths are longer, sleeves are wider, knits are less bulky, crops not as revealing.
“The clothing for fall has a sense of ease to it,” said Gregg Andrews, fashion creative director for Nordstrom. “We’re seeing silhouettes and the shape of clothing starting to relax … there’s nothing that constricts the body, nothing that’s overexposed. We still see a feminine form but it’s not about plunging necklines. We still see crops (on tops) but at the hip bone, and more boxy,” not as body-hugging.
Both Bergthold and Andrews said lighter-weight knits, such as cashmere cardigans and tunic sweaters, are a top trend, as opposed to the heavier cabled knits and substantial jackets and coats from previous seasons.