Consumer Nation

Hints of Spring—and Bondage—at Fashion Week


Fashion Week’s parties are big, and the industry is even bigger, but expect elements of simplicity and a greater emphasis on pants in the Spring 2013 season, industry forecasters predict.

Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek runway models.
Photo by Adam Jeffery for CNBC

“I think what’s interesting is clothing styling is very simple,” said Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at the Doneger Group. “It’s really the fabrics and the patterns that are telling the story for spring.”

Morrison expects alternative materials, such as neoprene, plastics and rubber along with shiny finishes to take on increased importance next spring.

“We are seeing a lot of shine on many fabrics from bottoms to knitwear to shirting,” she said. “We think shine is really going to define the season.”

During Fashion Week’s second show at Lincoln Center, BCBG Max Azria featured leather harnesses and lacy detail in the collection, which channeled the popular book series "50 Shades of Grey." Its theme "Une Femme Dangereuse" translates to "A Dangerous Woman."

Getting trends right is crucial for designers who hope to land on department stores’ shelves for the upcoming season. Just this week,retail executives cautioned that they would be entering the crucial holiday season cautiously — a tip-toe attitude that could impact buyers’ plans for spring and summer inventories.

In hopes of winning the “on-trend” jackpot, companies such as PVH's Tommy Hilfiger, Topman, Gapand H&M come to fashion forecaster WSGN for help in predicting trends.

“We’re planning on seeing an increase in pants — specifically the cropped pants and longer-length shorts,” said Maren Hartman, director of WGSN’s U.S. content.

This shift could spell the beginning of a “pants cycle” in women’s fashion, she said.

“A certain level of it is out of boredom — hem lengths go up, and hem lengths go down,” she said about the cyclical nature of pants.

Hartman also sees digital printing becoming more important and better executed this year as designers draw on scientific sources to infuse their luxury items.

Although the industry is in the midst of a color cycle, Morrison expects that neutral colors along with aquatic blues and peachy creams will blanket Fashion Week’s catwalks.

Still, strong colors will remain and serve as a way of grabbing consumers' attention both at brick-and-mortar locations and in the pivotal area of e-commerce, Morrison said.

A model walks the runway during the BCBGMAXAZRIA show during Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Theatre Lincoln Center.
Thomas Concordia | WireImage | Getty Images

“I think color will drive the sale for sure,” she said. “If it’s a new color or something she doesn’t own, it’s definitely a motivator."

Other items that are increasingly driving sales for designers and retailers are shoes and accessories, Morrison said.

“The business just keeps growing and growing,” she said. “It’s a cheap thrill so to speak, and it can change the look of a wardrobe.”

Department store giants Saks and Macy’s have both taken note of the surging interest in shoes and expanded their offerings. Saks even named its enlarged 5th Avenue shoe space “10022-SHOE,” a reference to its distinction as the first floor to be granted its own ZIP Code by the United States Postal Service.

Fashion Week’s first day of presentations was followed by Fashion’s Night Out, a celebrity-studded night of retail celebrations and promotions throughout the city.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will continue at Lincoln Center until Sept. 13. Check back on’s Consumer Nation for further updates on the business of Fashion Week.

-By Katie Little, CNBC News Associate

Questions? Comments? Email us at Follow Katie Little on Twitter @katie_little_.