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"We are in a fashion cycle" has been an oft-repeated mantra by many in the apparel business. But translating this concept into salable merchandise can be, to put it mildly, complex.
That fashion continues driving clothing sales in the mass channel is self evident, based on sales reports from countless buyers over the course of last year. The reported positive performance of stylish brands, including mary-and-kate-ashley at Wal-Mart and Isaac Mizrahi at Target, also supports this concept. But what constitutes "fashion" varies wildly, from category to merchandise classification.
"There is no one trend, in any apparel category, that retailers can depend on to be the 'be all, end all' that will move product for them anymore," said Carol D'Arconte, a trend forecaster and consultant for decades to numerous apparel retailers across the marketplace, including Kmart and JCPenney.
Still, there are some overarching themes--products, details, colors and makes--that will help those in the business maximize apparel sales in 2004. …