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OFF THE CUFF

These Clothes Are Trendy (She Hopes)

June 29, 1995

A\o7 nybody with a limited budget knows that buying the right clothes is crucial. You want something that will last through the summer and beyond. You need to be smart and to not make a "judgment lapse" that will end up hanging in your closet until who knows when.

Magnify your concerns by thousands. That's what Marilyn Schwartz of Huntington Beach says she has to do. She's a buyer for T.J. Maxx's 560 off-price retail stores across the United States.

But at least she has help. Schwartz has data on what customers have (and haven't) liked in the past. And she has 40 vendors who call regularly, alerting her to trends. Schwartz also heads to the street to see what people are wearing.

With her computer printouts, street excursions and 15 years of experience, Schwartz makes these predictions about what's going to be in this summer.

This is another in a series of first-person columns that allow people connected to the fashion industry to talk about their encounters.

\f7 *

Every buyer in our company does a quarterly fashion update, and we tell from the sales history what's hot and what's not and we highlight emerging trends.

Based on what all the buyers in our company have reported, the summer trends for men, women and children in general are that colors are neutral, beige, tan, taupe and ivory.

The silhouettes are soft and flowing. Fabrics are lightweight and natural, such as linen, cotton, rayons. The popular prints include checks, ginghams, ethnics and florals.

For women, you'll see a lot of empire-waist dresses, short jackets over column and short dresses, denim mixed with other fabrics in dresses, pull-on pants, drawstring pants and house dresses, and those long dresses with rayon prints.

Also for women, there are scooters, which are shorts that are like a skirt, slip dresses, ribbed or puckered knits, long button-front skirts and satin used to make accessories, tanks and dresses.

For men, what's trendy are ties with cause-related prints, like "Save the Children" and "The World Wildlife Foundation." Also, outdoor themes. For example, in the fall it was snowboarding and in summer it's surf and skate. And banded-collar shirts and linen shirts and pants are big for men.

For junior girls, what's popular are tennis shirts and skirts, denim shorts, sarong skirts, ribbed baby tees, and sunflower, daisy and butterfly prints.

Women's shoes will be the Palladium look with thick soles, strappy dress shoes and Mary Janes. And one of the emerging trends is Western.

Accessories include mini backpacks, skinny belts, organizer bags and shiny rayon socks.

At T.J. Maxx, we need to have a good handle on what people will buy across the United States in order to get a good report card from top management. The numbers we have break down what was sold, from which vendor, in which colors and fabrications.

They are a result of what has happened, but we have to be out in the market daily to get more information. We listen to marketing trends, and when I have 40 vendors calling me every day, I get lots of information.

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