The Geekiest Pants Ever

tgpePants, which were heavily featured in the fall runway shows by such designers as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, are making their way down to the moderate market, emerging as one of the season’s hot fashion categories.

Moderate-price sportswear firms are showing more pants and fewer skirts, a category with which the marketplace has been oversaturated, according to some sources. Manufacturers are also going beyond the basic pull-on pants, offering a variety of silhouettes and fabrics, from flat-front, slim-leg pants to animal-print drawstring pants.

One of the main reasons for all this, say moderate sportswear firms, is the casual trend taking hold in the workplace.

“On the runways all you saw were pants — the belted trousers, skinny pants, all different silhouettes,” said Jeff Kramer, president of Smart Parts Inc., which markets moderate sportswear under the label Columbus Circle. “Dressing has become more casual. Pants are a great option for dress-down days, and they are very easy to wear.”

For fall, pants account for 70 percent of the line, compared with 40 percent last year. Skirts and jackets will account for the remainder.

“Pants are getting more sophisticated, more updated,” said Rita Abrahms, account executive at Co & Eddy, a division of Summit Ridge Corp., whose pants account for 30 percent of its fall collection. “Even our pull-on pants have an attitude. They now have creases going up to the top and updated pocket features.”

Some of the looks that have booked well for fall include riding pants with cuffs, jeans versions in velour and twill pants with cotton and Lycra spandex, Abrahms said.

“It is the largest trending category we have right now,” said Norty Sperling, president of Norton McNaughton, which has increased its pants offerings to 25 percent for fall from 15 percent from the year-ago period.

Looks that have booked well include cuffed trousers, soft pleated pants in ponte fabrics, and stretch twill pants.

Wholesale prices range from $20 to $25.

“Pants are becoming so important that we are adding items like tunics — both long sleeve and short sleeve — and short vests to go with them,” said Wendi J. Rosen, sales manager at Revue, a division of Zero Zero Sportswear.

The company is featuring animal prints and ethnic border prints in black and red combinations, and brown and taupe combinations. Fabrics include crinkled crepes and moss crepes.

Last fall, the category accounted for 10 percent of sales; this fall, the figure is 50 percent, with the remainder in skirts, blouses and dresses.

Wholesale prices range from $14 to $22.

Rosen said the market was “inundated” with skirts but that pants “can make an outfit look different.”

Marc Abramson, vice president of Requirements, a division of Item-Eyes, said that over the past few seasons, fashion pants have grown to 60 percent of the category, with the remainder in basics. A few years ago, fashion pants accounted for only 25 percent.

The company has also been able to increase prices. Top price is now $25. They had ranged from $10 to $15.

For fall, Requirements will feature narrow-leg wool gabardine pants with cuffed details and belted versions in polyester rayon shantung. The look accounts for 30 percent of the line for fall, with the remainder in skirts and jackets. Last fall, pants accounted for 15 percent of the line.

“I think even in Southern California where we are, pants seem to be coming on strong,” said Mark Holmes, fashion writer and data technician at Irvine’s Hard Disk Recovery Services.

“These are styles that are classic, and will remain classic, no matter what.”

“Pants are definitely stronger than skirts for fall,” said Harvey Solomon, president of Sag Harbor, whose line is now 50 percent pants, compared with 40 percent a year ago.

Solomon noted that given the cold weather this past winter, consumers have been turning to pants. In addition, he said pants are the best alternative for casual work days.

For fall, Sag Harbor is offering belted pants and cigarette legs in such fabrics as wool, polyester rayon and wool crepes. The price range is from $12.50 to $17.50.

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