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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Big and Beautiful : Extra Touch marks down its high-end designer apparel for the full-figured, fashion-conscious woman.

April 30, 1993|GERI COOK

When reporting on a particular bargain source, it's always frustrating to the writer (and I'm sure to the reader) when the names of the manufacturers cannot be divulged.

It's usually because the retailer, not wanting to jeopardize the relationship with the manufacturer, has insisted that the name not be printed--thus the reference to "designer labels" or "major brands."

This, of course, is only when the price is considerably lower than retail. Some makers are dead set against retailers discounting their product.

I cannot disclose the labels you'll find at Extra Touch, an upscale Studio City shop for the larger woman that carries many very high-end names, coveted by fashion-conscious women who wear sizes 14W to 31W. Roseanne (Arnold, of course), Kathy Bates and other luminaries shop here regularly.

Since it opened eight years ago, Extra Touch has been a straight retail operation, but owner Esther Nemes, a sharp and realistic merchandiser, is in tune with the times. In February, Nemes turned her store into a discount operation with prices slashed from 20% to 40%, a transition we are seeing more and more these days.

The focus at Extra Touch is on special-occasion apparel. And it is gorgeous. We found some beautifully designed gowns, still not inexpensive, but priced considerably below what the department stores or boutiques charge.

And the inventory was much deeper and the styles every bit as current.

A beaded two-piece outfit from a top design house sells at a major specialty store for $745 but is tagged here at $596.

A stunning beaded coat for $535 had just been reduced to $460.

With a focus on special occasions, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that such a store caters to the mother of the bride. Prices for these dresses run from $70 to $200, and there's a huge selection.

But it's not all high-end at Extra Touch. Good-looking bomber-style polyester jackets that sell elsewhere for $89 are $62 here.

Some broomstick cotton skirts that usually sell for $89 are tagged at $62.

A well-known manufacturer of romantic wedding attire for the bride, the bridal party and the mother of the bride is available at healthy discounts. You'll have to call the store to get the label.

Nemes' impeccable taste is mirrored throughout the store, not just in the apparel but in the hats and costume jewelry selected particularly for the larger woman and scaled proportionately.

Extra Touch is a find.

Nemes and manager Melody Kern both qualify as zaftig; being full-figured themselves, they are experts in camouflage techniques. Semi-annual sales are in August and January. Get on their Wish List for special requests and sales announcements.

CLARIFICATION: The April 16 bargain column on three shopping spots in Hawaii was researched and mainly written by Michelle Moore, who works a week in Hawaii every month.

Where to Shop What: Extra Touch, 12178 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express. Fashion show: Trunk show featuring new designers' caftans, dresses and sportswear for the summer season from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call: (818) 508-1662.

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