What does Barbara think? Spring Summer 2011 Edition

Proenza Schouler Spring Summer 2011
Proenza Schouler Spring Summer 2011

I love it when the WWD asks the buyers their opinions of the collections. I’m always interested in what the buyers/retailers think of the collections. For the last few seasons I’ve been posting about Barbara Atkin’s feelings on the show. Spring Summer 2011 is no exception.

New York

“The consumer is still celebrity-obsessed. The designer is becoming that celebrity as well. We’ve got to move away from turning [fashion week] into a circus.” – Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director, Holt Renfrew

Trendspotting: “The big story was American sportswear and the whole idea of the timeless classics, easy toppers, trenches and beautiful, easy pants. In a way, another trend is New York producing a whole new wave of young designers with more democratic price points, such as Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim and Theyskens’ Theory.”

Sound off: “Everyone’s taking pictures of everyone else. Everybody has a blog and some site they wanted to drive you to. We’re being swallowed up by social media. People are adapting a look and seeing how to wear it immediately as the runway show is happening. Social media will affect how we buy and it will affect our deliveries. Consumers have no patience. They want instant replies.”(source)

Prada Spring Summer 2011 Womens
Prada Spring Summer 2011 Womens


“The 21st century luxury customer now lives a life less focused on formalwear and more focused on a relaxed, active lifestyle,” – Barb Atkin

“Milan has proven to be a powerfully optimistic season of bold color and print, remarkable craftsmanship, new longer hemlines and simple shapes that we are confident will drive customers into the stores. Bold color, tribal influences, bohemian Seventies, fringe, longer lengths and floral prints are some of the key trends that will impact the clothes for spring. The designer business is on an upward trend with many collections experiencing double-digit growth. Our budgets reflect this growth, while at the same time we are keeping our inventories in line for spring, having successfully right-sized our business last season. Our shopping list includes easy toppers, flared pants, the longer-length skirt and dress, soft blouses and tunics and simple, easy jackets. The longer week has provided the opportunity to visit the many new stores in Milan in search of new concepts and spend more time with new designers. Our eyes are on MSGM, Vincenzo De Cotiis, Drome and Isabella Tonchi.”

Standout collections: Gucci, Prada, Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana and Brunello Cucinelli.(source)

Calla Spring Summer 2011
Calla Spring Summer 2011 Photo by Tommy Ton


Trendspotting: “Short hemlines coexisted with floor-grazing lengths. We saw the fragile and the structured, the masculine and the feminine. The Paris collections have translated into options for the customer: Pleating, longer lengths, androgyny, punk, sheer layers, cutout details, stripes, leather, tailored denim and Seventies influences are some of the trends we are seeing.”

Sound off: “With the popularity of live-streaming, we will have to better understand how the retailer can service a customer who now has access to a season that has not yet been delivered to the stores. Current retail inventories may no longer support the trends that the customer sees online.”(source)

What does Barbara think? Fall Winter 2010 – 2011 Edition

Lanvin Ready to Wear - Fall 2010
Lanvin Fall Winter 2010 - 2011

I love it when the WWD asks the buyers their opinions of the collections. I’m always interested in what the buyers/retailers think of the collections. For the last few seasons I’ve been posting about Barbara Atkin’s feelings on the show. Fall Winter 2010 – 2011 is no exception.

New York

Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director, Holt Renfrew:

Trends with legs: “The drop in hems of skirts will change jackets and shoes; fabric folding and ruffling; camel, the new color of luxury; high-waisted full pants and bolder shoulders on jackets; enveloping coats; military details; sculptural tailoring and geometric body-conscious clothing.”

Favorite collections: “3.1 Phillip Lim for the beautiful shearlings, knitwear, dresses, outerwear and tunics; Victoria Beckham’s sensuous dresses; Michael Kors’ long knit skirts; Oscar de la Renta’s beautiful refinement and Old-World luxury; Marc Jacobs’ simple, elegant clothes; Reed Krakoff’s utilitarian sportswear; Alexander Wang; Philip Lim, and The Row — style that’s relevant to many generations.”(source)


Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director, Holt Renfrew: “The designer business is on an upswing and our budgets will reflect this positive trend as we focus on more depth within the collections. Clothes were steeped in luxury highlighting abundant furs, leathers and suedes, feminine lace work; artisanal use of collage and patchwork effects; accents through Lurex and lamé touches and trims, and knitwear as art wear. All of these things restore our faith and trust in Made-in-Italy clothes. Our shopping list consists of coats; leather; printed novelty skinny pants and leggings; silk blouses; power suits; knitwear, particularly sweater dresses, sweater coats and cardigans; longer hemlines for skirts and coats, and fur for coats, trims and accessories. Our favorite collections were Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana.”(source)


Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director, Holt Renfrew: “Paris was exceptionally powerful. There was the stripped-down maturity we started seeing in Milan, but it was particularly special in Paris. There was a lot of structure, architectural design and detail. It was an amazing coat season from every collection, plus fur, leather and beautiful sculpted knits. We liked the longer hemline, which signals a change in everything, starting with the shoe, which will become more feminine. We had so many favorites: Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, Celine, Givenchy, Balmain. One newcomer we’re bringing in is Gareth Pugh. We’re very optimistic. We’ve seen people coming back into the stores, looking for quality clothes. Our budgets are growing for Celine, Lanvin — for all of the brands we want to build. Business is on the upswing so we want to support that.” (source)

Holt Renfrew Fall 2009 – 2010 Womenswear Media Preview

There is nothing I love more than getting a sneak preview of anything fashion related. I was pretty pumped for the Holt Renfrew Fall 2009 – 2010 Womenswear Media preview. What new goodies did the buyers bring back for us interested fashion folk.

Holt Renfrew Fall 2009 - 2010 Womenswear Media Preview

Special bonus was an appearance by Joseph Altuzarra. He is being touted as the one to watch by many. His stuff is pretty hot, I have to admit. He was an intern at Marc Jacobs and freelanced for Proenza Schouler. Riccardo Tisci also recruited him to be a design assistant at Givenchy. His first collection was Spring 2008. He was absolutely adorable. How can you not love a guy whose primary muse is his Mom.

Altuzarra - Holt Renfrew Fall 2009 - 2010 Womenswear Media Preview

The event was held in the 3rd floor Contemporary area. Select samples from the season where on display for everyone to get a look at. Barbara Atkin, Vice President, Fashion Direction for Holt Renfrew talked about their trend research for the season and the direction for buyers. She talked about the new economy. Less, but better the new mantra. Giving the best product value for the money was a big focus this season. Another buzz word was serious consumption instead of conspicuous consumption. The are looking for that beautiful product that will become iconic, not a flash in the pan.

Trends on the Holts radar this fall are:

Bold Shoulder. DIY it up, find some shoulder pads and update your coat or buy a strong shouldered coat this fall
Shine. Don't leave it for special occasions. Mix sequins with knits and flannel.
Knit Dressing. Key pieces are the cardigan and dress
Slim leg. Slim pants and leggings to show off the gams
Collar Effect. Will see a lot of collars and bibs necklaces. It frames the face.
Satchel. Buy buy to the It bag. The new bags are classic and a long term investment.
City pump. Making an 80s comeback.
Boot legging. These are the new sky high boots. Perfect with the slim leg trend
Belt It

Some of the new labels for fall that I’m excited to see include: Phi, Altuzarra, Dannijo, Alexander Wang handbags, Salvatore Ferragamo for Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen and PUMA, Philip Lim 3.1 jewellery, Bing Bang by Anna Sheffield, Malababa, Luxury Rebel, Fluxus, Reebok, Sendra Boots and BOYY.

Check out all the photos I took in the slideshow:

What does Barbara think. Spring 2009 edition

Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion, Holt Renfrew has been mentioned in the Buyers Report for Spring 2009 on WWD. Let’s see what she has to say

On New York:

Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director of Holt Renfrew, agreed. “We’re all examining and stepping back,” she said. “When there’s economic instability, people question their purchasing.

“This is a time when we’re really looking at the new guard of designers,” said Atkin, noting some iconic American design houses are floundering without their namesake designers at the helm. “There’s a lot of confusion at Bill Blass and the problem with Halston is, what does it mean anymore? It’s got to go beyond the name on the label. It’s just got to be fantastic clothes. The clothes have to have substance and the identity of what the brand is has to jump out at you.”

That’s what Atkin is looking for in all collections. “If we don’t get that, everything we purchase fades into a blandism on our floors.”

Of course, there were exceptions. Marc Jacobs and Rodarte were singled out by several retailers for their creativity. “Maria Cornejo, Alexander Wang, these are the new guard,” said Atkin. “A new generation is coming up quickly.”

Favorite collections: Michael Kors because he understands who his woman is. This season, he walked away from the uptight lady and gave us American sportswear in classic Bal Harbour colors and it worked. He also had wonderful scuba sexy dresses, which I think will bring in a new customer. Rodarte was fearless in their expression and whether you can wear it or not, I think it was art. They established themselves as American designers with a world-class point of view. Also, Jeremy Laing, a Canadian, did beautiful, billowing, simple clothing and worked with interesting under slips and openwork. Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera gave us quality and security and consistency. At that price point, you want that. Marc Jacobs summed up where we are today. He showed so strongly what I call the DIY look. You pick your clothes to suit your personality. When Marc mixes up the plaids with the damasks, evening with day and grunge with Asia, he’s saying take these items and create your own style.

Trends that are keepers: Romantic bohemia, monochromatic designs with clean lines that give more longevity to clothes, transferring details from the athletic world to couture shapes, papery leather, a variety of pant silhouettes and fabrics with glazing and sheen and shine.

On Milan:

“Milan gave us exactly what we came here looking for — luxurious product with the right amount of ‘wow.’ In the world of apparel, designers gave us well-balanced collections with many choices for our customers’ varied lifestyles. Heritage houses in the luxury world are raising the bar and positioning themselves at the top end of luxury. The overlying trend was geometry versus femininity, and key elements included seasonless fabrics; details like fringe, ruffles and bows; transparency and cutouts, and polkadots. Key items include lightweight, easy toppers; strong-shouldered, man-tailored suits with ankle-bearing slim pants; longer vests; jumpsuits; soft flirty skirts; lightweight cardigans, and short, above-the-knee “fit and flare” shirt and halter dresses. Accessories took center stage this season — bigger and bolder than ever. Luxury brands are reinforcing the importance of the statement handbag and jewelry this season, as evident in bold earrings, necklaces and cuffs. The waist was emphasized by the use of dramatic belts. Clearly, the entire world of accessories has become an important extension of designer brands. There was a lack of innovation this season in footwear, as designers did not take forward their aggressive and extreme designs, except Fendi, which gave us a new trompe l’oeil stiletto wedge. My favorite collections were Jil Sander, Marni, Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.”

She wasn’t quoted for Paris. Check out what other buyers are saying at the Fashion Spot – S/S 09 Buyers Reports

What does Barbara think?

Lanvin Ready to Wear - Fall Winter 2008 - 2009
I was reading the Buyers Report from WWD on the Fashion Spot and noticed that Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction from Holt Renfrew talks about the collections from a retail perspective.


“Although Milan started as a somber season, it ended on a high note by offering a variety of beautiful and luxurious clothing with an infusion of newness. We saw a combination of the strict and subdued juxtaposed against a kaleidoscope of color, print and detail, all adding up to a decadent, luxurious bohemian style. We saw influences from the Seventies with long, lean silhouettes and covered-up clothes playing against the short and swinging. The ‘separates’ dressing that had its roots in the Seventies is making a strong return. We will be looking for luxurious coats; cropped or shapely jackets with accented shoulders; soft, folkloric dresses, blouses and skirts; cardigans and sweater coats; skinny and cropped pants, and man-tailored suits. We will be slightly increasing our budget over last year, as we believe our customer will continue to come to us looking for the new. Our favorite collections out of Milan were Prada, Marni, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Jil Sander and Pucci.”


“Paris is the grand finale to the season, reconfirming its position as incubator of new ideas; from bold, confident power women at YSL, Akris and Balenciaga, to the soft romance of light, seasonless clothes in a kaleidoscope of prints and materials as seen at Dries Van Noten, Chloé, Jean Paul Gaultier and Nina Ricci. Key elements include strong-shouldered jackets, enveloping coats, easy knits, feminine dresses and blouses that will soften the masculine tailoring, and hemlines — whether long, short or asymmetric — that add newness. Paris is the city where we hunt for new names and this season we will buy Commuun, Sacai and To Long Nam. The collections we loved were YSL, Balenciaga, Akris, Dries Van Noten, Nina Ricci and Lanvin.”