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What's hot and what's not in fashion stocks

Fashion investors' do's and don'ts

Models walk the runway at the Moschino fashion show at Milan Fashion Week Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2014 in Milan, Italy.
Getty Images

Although summer is just drawing to a close, the fashion set is already headed to New York to introduce the trends that will hit the streets months from now, when the winter's snow gives way to spring.

At first glance, the scene at New York Fashion Week may seem to only influence its Chanel-toting attendees, but several labels shown on the runways have Wall Street ties—meaning the season's hits and misses can have an impact on investors.

Although a brand's runway presence and the buzz that comes along with it doesn't define a stock's performance, particularly when it's among several brands in a company's portfolio, industry experts have long noted the correlation between trend-right product and sales.

"The fashion runway can become a crucial platform for any company looking to grow, go global or reach new audiences," said Tom Julian, branding expert at the Doneger Group trend forecasting firm.

This is particularly true in the Internet age, when collections can be live-streamed over the Web or uploaded to Instagram or Facebook in a matter of seconds.

"It became sort of a brand-building tool in the media age," said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing consulting firm.

Ahead of the spring collections, which officially kick off Thursday, here's a look at some of the best- and worst-performing stocks that have a connection to the New York, London, Milan and Paris runways.

By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson, with contributions from Giovanny Moreano
Posted 3 Sept. 2014

Rankings are based the performance of 26 fashion-related stocks over the 12 months that ended Aug. 31. Companies with a market cap lower than $500 million were excluded.

1. G-III

Pedestrians walk past a Calvin Klein jeans store in Beijing.
Keith Bedford | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: up 80%

G-III operates licenses for several high-fashion brands, notably runway staple Calvin Klein. Other big names in its portfolio include Kenneth Cole and Vince Camuto, but fashion isn't the company's only focus. Agreements with major sports organizations including the NFL, NBA and MLB round out G-III's holdings.

2. VF Corp.

Models walk the runway at the Nautica fashion show in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Stock price change over the past year: up 37%

Among VF Corp.'s large stable of brands are contemporary labels Ella Moss and 7 for all Mankind, as well as men's-centric lifestyle brand Nautica. However, much of the brand's recent strength—including revenue growth of 8 percent in the most recent quarter—has been attributed to its off-the-runway outdoor brands, namely The North Face, Vans and Timberland.

"We continue to believe that VF's best-in-class brand building expertise, operational execution capabilities, scaled supply chain and powerful M&A platform make it unique," ISI analyst Omar Saad wrote in a note to investors following the company's most recent earnings report.

3. Kate Spade

A Kate Spade store is shown at City Center in Washington.
Bill O'Leary | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: up 36%

After a drop as steep as 27 percent following the quirky lifestyle brand's most recent earnings report, Kate Spade's stock has regained some ground to trade near $32.

Shareholders sold off the stock despite the company's 30 percent comparable sales increase. Analysts attributed the stock dip in part to the brand's greater-than-expected promotions. Spade has been a darling among analysts and investors, who say it's a formidable competitor to Michael Kors with significant growth ahead.

"Despite the noise, KATE reported a strong quarter in a tough environment, " BMO Capital Markets analyst John Morris said following the company's earnings results.

4. Iconix Brand Group

Models walk the runway at the Badgley Mischka fashion show in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Stock price change over the past year: up 27%

Brand management company Iconix works with more than two dozen labels, including red carpet mainstay Badgley Mischka. Acquired from Escada in 2004, the lifestyle brand sells across categories including accessories, swimwear, and bridal, and its gowns have been worn by celebrities from Taylor Swift to Jennifer Lopez.

5. Hugo Boss

A model walks the runway at the Hugo Boss fashion show during Ciputra World Fashion Week in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: up 16%

After dipping earlier in August amid reports that Permira was looking to sell its 50 percent stake in the luxury fashion house, Hugo Boss shares recovered to trade near $108. Then on Tuesday, Reuters reported the private equity firm is looking to sell $1.1 billion worth of shares in the company. (A Hugo Boss representative referred CNBC to Permira, which did not immediately respond to request for comment.)

The brand, famous for its men's styles, is making a big push into women's wear under the leadership of designer Jason Wu, who dressed first lady Michelle Obama for the 2009 and 2013 Presidential Inaugural Balls.

6. Michael Kors

Models walk the runway at the Michael Kors fashion show in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Stock price change over the past year: up 8%

Despite being one of the top fashion gainers over the past year, Michael Kors shares have fallen from their all-time high above $100 in February. The drop has been mostly attributed to analyst concern that the brand is headed in the direction of fellow affordable luxury label Coach, which has seen sales tank as a result of overdistribution and brand dilution.

"KORS results have far outpaced those of its specialty and luxury peers ... but we remain concerned that the widespread availability of KORS product in the wholesale channel presents risk to the brand longer term," Wells Fargo analyst Paul Lejuez said after the company's most recent earnings report.

7. Christian Dior

A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior show at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week at the Musée Rodin on July 7, 2014 in Paris, France.
Rindoff | Dufour | French Select | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: Up 4%

Christian Dior, with an empire that spans couture, handbags and fragrances, derives the majority of its sales from fashion and leather goods. After seeing its sales rise about 3 percent in the most recent year, the company said it expects to "continue to gain market share thanks to the numerous product launches planned in the coming months and its geographic expansion in promising markets, while continuing to manage costs."

20. Trinity Limited

Clothes and accessories are displayed in a Cerruti 1881 SAS store in Hong Kong.
Timothy O'Rourke | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 11%

Trinity Limited operates a number of high-end men's brands, including Cerruti 1881 and bespoke tailors Gieves & Hawkes. Despite a spike in sales across the menswear industry, the company's stock has been one of the biggest decliners over the past year.

21. Brunello Cucinelli

Models walk the runway during the Brunello Cucinelli fashion show in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 15%

A luxury firm known for its cashmere, Brunello Cucinelli listed on the Milan stock exchange in 2012 with an offer price of €7.75 a share. After shooting as high as €26.87, the stock cooled off, though it's since recovered some ground. Last week, Cucinelli said it will post double-digit earnings and sales growth in 2014 and 2015.

22. Onward Holdings

Models walk the runway at the Jil Sander Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy.
Catwalking | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 19%

New York Fashion Week player ICB and Milan runway staple Jil Sander are two of Onward Holdings' key women's wear brands. While ICB targets a career woman in her 30s, Sander's designs are renowned for their minimalist but chic look. In the company's most recent report, Onward said it plans to invest in the Jil Sander brand to boost its growth. It also plans to develop into a standalone brand, the Jil Sander Navy line, which is meant to appeal to a broader customer base.

23. Mulberry

Models walk the runway during the Mulberry show at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 in London.
Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 24%

Mulberry has seen its share of missteps over the past few years when, under the leadership of former CEO Bruno Guillon, it raised prices to become more upmarket. As a result, the company shut out aspirational shoppers, who have an appetite for luxury goods but don't have the bank account to buy ultra-premium items. Under Guillon's leadership, the company's shares fell 65 percent. Although they've recovered some ground, they're still trading at about one-third of the price they did during their peak in 2012.

24. Prada

Models walk the runway during the Prada show as a part of Milan Fashion Week Womenswear Autumn/Winter 2014 in Milan, Italy.
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho | WireImage | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 28%

Following a significant run-up in Prada's stock, the company's shares have fallen about 30 percent over the past 12 months. ISI's Saad attributed the label's dive to "slowing growth and ongoing global luxury market volatility."

In a note to investors following Prada's most recent earnings report, Saad said the brand still has multiple ways to drive growth. Management has called out the men's market and footwear as potential levers.

"We are scratching our head a bit as to why this undersized brand so quickly transitioned from outperforming the luxury industry to underperforming it, and wonder if the core women's leather goods business may be plateauing a bit," Saad said.

25. Coach

The Coach logo is seen on a handbag at a store in New York.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 30%

Coach shares have been on a downward trend since 2012, when the company's handbags went from "must-have" to "everybody has." The company is making efforts to restore the strength of its brand by returning to its heritage roots, tapping Stuart Vevers as its chief designer and cutting back on promotions. Management is also placing a big bet on the growing menswear market, setting a goal for the category to reach $1 billion in sales in 2017.

"We're still optimistic on the demand creation potential from Stuart Vevers' September collection launch but believe it will take time to resonate in a meaningful way," Jefferies analyst Randal Konik said following the brand's earnings report.

26. Tod's

A view of the Tod's Signature collection at Ambassade d'Italieas, part of Paris Fashion Week in Paris.
Michel Dufour | WireImage | Getty Images

Stock price change over the past year: down 38%

Weakness, particularly among apparel, contributed to a first-half sales decline at Tod's, which is known for its shoes. Although Italy, the Americas and Greater China sales all fell, CEO Diego Della Valle told investors that customers are responding well to its cold-weather collections.

"The first feedback of clients to the fall/winter collections is very encouraging and, if this trend will continue, we can look at the yearly performance with a positive stance," he said.