Fashion Week styles may have solved retail's biggest problem
Clear some space in your closets, ladies.
Designers at New York Fashion Week are bringing appetizing fashions to the runway, showcasing innovative outerwear, rich colors and luxurious fabrics for fall. The trends fuse fashion and function, and should get women spending when the items hit shelves around September, experts said.
"Fashion for fall is definitely starting from the outside in," said Tom Julian, director of strategic business development at The Doneger Group, a trend forecasting agency.
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One of the issues that plagued stores in the recent holiday season was lack of a clear fashion trend. Last February, runways were overrun with pieces that, while clean and architectural, lacked a "wow" factor, said Sheila Aimette, vice president of North American content for trend forecaster WGSN.
That's not the case this season.
"I think what is working very well for everyone right now is that designers are very much aligned with the 'vortex' factor," Julian said, citing the unseasonably cold weather at the tents. "It should really allow for a better retail opportunity come fall."
He cited "spectacular" outerwear from designers such as Prabal Gurung, BCBG and Richard Chai, and an après-ski theme, with numerous collections showcasing layers, knits and vests.
"We are definitely embracing a fuller, looser silhouette," Julian said.
Bold colors are another dominant trend—and a shift that buyers from Saks and Hudson's Bay were looking for.
Before Lincoln Center opened its doors Thursday, Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director for Hudson's Bay, said she hoped to see a move away from black and white, which had ruled the past few seasons.
Fuchsia, burgundy, vibrant blues, green, purple and red all had a strong presence, whether used in color block pieces, or to create statement dresses or coats.
"There's a lot of electric color," Aimette said, adding that it tends to be consumer-friendly.
Other noteworthy trends are fur, seen on coats and vests, and as trim; layered knits; menswear influences, with an emphasis on separates; intricate embroideries and detailing, often done in lace; leather; and shiny fabrics, such as Rebecca Minkoff's gold lamé pieces.
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Though Aimette at WGSN said it's still too early in the season to tell—fall shows run through Thursday in New York, before heading to London, Milan and Paris—she's hopeful that the designs will spur buying.
Inspiring fashions would solve one piece of the puzzle for the retail industry, whose lackluster holiday performance has continued into the new year. Just last week, 56 percent of the companies in the Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index reported they had missed their estimates for January, citing bad weather and slow foot traffic in the shortfall.
(Read more: Coach hopes to shed mom 'baggage' at Fashion Week)
Still, the National Retail Federation is optimistic about 2014. The trade organization predicted last week that retail sales will grow 4.1 percent this year, based on an improving labor market, a more stable housing sector and stronger gross domestic product growth.
But for consumers who still refuse to let go of the purse strings entirely, Aimette offered a piece of advice.
"If you're going to buy one great thing for fall right now, just overspend on that coat," she said. "It's going to be quite important."
—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson. Follow her on Twitter @KrystinaGustafs.