Shaking It Up with Established Manufacturers at ENK Children's Club January 2007 Show 

I always know when I'm about to enter a great trade show. There's an electric charge in the aisles that happens when manufacturers know their collections work. At the Fall 2007 Children's Club show, the designers' excitement wafted down the aisles, out the door and into the lobby.

After I did my customary first stroll through the event, I realized that established vendors exhibited not just new lines with a similar aesthetic, but pushed themselves to explore fresh ideas, inspirations and materials. The result: collections so carefully conceived and so vibrant they made my heart thump. When I couldn't pick just one "outstanding piece" or outfit, I included two or more so you can see what all my ranting is about.





DESIGNER: The 3 Pommes design team

Sizes: Layette to 14; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer for prices

This company's motto is "Affordable prices for babies," and, season after season, they deliver on the hype.

Outstanding pieces: The peach hoodie has a unique lilac cast and the lilac tee is the perfect complement. There's a lot of bang for the buck in the cherry, gray and plum top and skirt.

Groupe Zannier

Tel: 212 279-7672




DESIGNER: Nay Khoubnazar

Sizes: 3 months to 14 years; Wholesale prices: $7-$34

Baby Nay offers comfortable, cotton knit playwear for kids who want to look stylish on the swing set.

Outstanding pieces: The layered tees with the simple pucker at the bodice and the flirty skirt/leggings blend rich color with an arresting print.

Tel: 323-780-4949





DESIGNER: Tia Cibani

Sizes: 2 to 12; Wholesale prices: $18-$120

For several seasons, buyers looked to Kicokids for knitwear in sophisticated tones and interesting silhouettes. Now they've added a collection of sportswear that is as innovative as their knit designs.

Outstanding pieces: The creamy tee is detailed with a veil of beige netting that falls in a loose gather from the bodice to the hem. The dirndl is a glitter-flecked, soft to the touch, upholstery cloth. Together, they're pure understated elegance.

Other designers would be tempted to match the jacket and skirt. Cibani takes a modern approach to the suit by blending pale gray and charcoal and joining the pieces with a rich, Provencal paisley.

Tel: 617-764-0352





DESIGNER: Sachin Batra

Sizes: 2T-10; Wholesale prices: $14-$46

Batra is serious about offering great value and innovation in his collections. This season, he's high on mixing offbeat color with subdued prints - to great effect.

Outstanding pieces: Bachin does black right, pairing the moody tone with bright chartreuse in this layered-tee and setting it atop the playful skirt with a touch of folkloric charm.

If you're not sure how boys will dress this season, check out these outfits. The green-toned browns and black, the mix of plaid and tweed, the funky sweater with raw-edged appliquéd letters tell you all you need to know.

Tel: 203-329-0719





DESIGNER: Rania Tohme

Sizes: 6 months to 14; Wholesale prices: contact manufacturer

Welcome to the fun house.

Outstanding pieces: Want a mood brightener in the store: The dazzlingly colored, heavily appliquéd coat and jumper should do it.

Tel: 310-666-2922





DESIGNER: The Me Too design team

Sizes: NB to 8 years; Wholesale prices: $6-$42

The Danes know how to warm up a long, cold winter. Me Too's extensive collection of fashion forward, well priced sportswear includes two beat-the-cold outerwear items.

Outstanding pieces: The seventies are revisited in this lean ski jacket brightened with a rainbow of stripes. Add an acid-toned green tee and lean jeans and you have a set that's ideal on the slopes as well as later in the lodge with a cup of hot cocoa.

No one will miss the little one on the ski run in this rich coffee and sky parka in a mod 60's inspired print.

Tel: 212-869-5556





DESIGNER: Adrienne Catrina

Sizes: 18 months-12; Wholesale prices: $28-$94

I've loved Catrina's collections since I awarded her first fall collection with a "Best in Show" in March 2005. This season, as always, there are a couple of dresses that are pure perfection in their simplicity.

Outstanding pieces: Working with a palette of silvery grays, Catrina fashions a dress from Jersey that takes full advantage of the material's luxurious drape. The blouse is made of cotton with a touch of iridescent thread that lends a subtle shimmer to the garment. It's lovely paired with the silk charmeuse skirt in a playful dot print.

Tel: 714.558.7751





DESIGNER: Sonia Rykiel

Sizes: 2 to 16 years; Wholesale prices: $35-$250

In 2005, I spent a few weeks in France and wrote about the experience for this website. While I was there, I spotted an outfit by Sonia Rykiel in a shop window. (The photo is included in the story "What I Did on My European Vacation".) I loved the outfit for its intense bright tones on black, but remember thinking that American buyers "wouldn't get it," meaning they'd interpret the look as garish. Now the line looks absolutely appropriate, and, like all of Rykiel's designs, ahead of its time.

Outstanding pieces: Bold stripes and bright tones are balanced by black.

SCH Enterprises

Tel: 212-929-7200





DESIGNER: Dorothy Park

Sizes: 2 to 14 years; Wholesale prices: $10-$38

Whitlow & Hawkins is known for classics with a twist fashioned from the finest textiles.

Outstanding pieces: The gray cashmere hoodie goes out on the town with a sprinkling of sequins. Ditto for the argyle vest. Add the charcoal wool kilt edged in silver charmeuse and you have three killer pieces with just the right touch of bling.

Tel: 212-575-5770





DESIGNER: Susan Lazar

Sizes: 3 months to 4T; Wholesale prices: $5-$20

Lazar, who also designs the Egg collection, has developed an ingenious line of boyswear with all sorts of details that prolong the life of each garment. Great colors, too.

Outstanding pieces: The vest flips from solid red to plush pile. The pants reverse from red with rich purple trim to an amusing camouflage design. At closer range you'll notice that the print's primary motif is the company's Keith Haring-like logo.

Tel: 212-842-2822






DESIGNERS: Paige Apar and Paula Speert

Sizes: 18 months to 10 years; Wholesale prices: $12-$28

The designers of this line like to say, "Our collection is all boy." They've added cool touches like a little slit at the base of a T-shirt sleeve to hook the thumb through when a child pulls on a jacket. They've worked lots of black into their groups so the pieces have an edgy appeal.

Outstanding pieces: The black, charcoal and white pieces are "totally cool."

Tel: 818 735-0104






DESIGNER: Sachin Batra

Sizes: 7-16; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer for prices

Rita Hayworth, Hedy LaMar, Lana Turner and all the screen sirens of that era would love the sophisticated dresses and cover-ups in Batra's latest line.

Outstanding pieces: This dress looks brown in the photo, but it's sheer black net with lacework over a skin-toned slip.

The velvet bed jacket makes a charming coverup.

Tel: 203-329-0719






DESIGNER: Maria Frallicciardi

Sizes: NB to 8 years; Wholesale prices: $25-$56

Everything about this knit collection - from the quality of the yarn, the attention to color and fashionable yet classic shapes - screams better boutique.

Outstanding pieces: This sweater is knit with heavy wool so the item functions as a light jacket as well as cozy sweater. The shape, the lovely orchid color and the little ruffle make it an ideal gift item, too.

Bella Rose Imports

Tel: 212-594-7673





DESIGNER: Melissa Karetsky

Sizes: 6 months-14 years; Wholesale prices: $42-$46

Karetsky is known for her customized initial sweaters in an extensive selection of colors. This season she's shaking things up with a new addition.

Outstanding pieces: A skull and crossbones? Why not. Skulls are the "it" motif this season.

Tel: 212-751-7066





DESIGNER: Shelley Hunt

Sizes: 12 months to 7 years (special order 8 to 10 years); Wholesale prices: $25-$32

Was I experiencing ENK burnout or was I seeing a tattoo print in the Sam's Friend booth? Known for adorable knit sweaters, blankets and separates, a T-shirt printed with the edgy pattern was new territory - new, and somehow just right with their wares.

Outstanding pieces: An argyle sweater with sweet bows, the tattoo tee and the fisherman's skirt. Hunt pulls from a lot of directions and ends up with one cool, wearable ensemble.

Tel: 212-967-2918





A few swimwear manufacturers exhibited cruise collections.


DESIGNERS: Mary and Elizabeth Naples

Sizes: 12 months to 14; Wholesale prices: $20-$23

If you're looking for swimwear that's sweet rather than sexy, and delivers just the right color and pattern, M.N. Bird Co. is your line.

Outstanding pieces: Imagine what this adorable suit will do for a toddler's chubby little legs and arms.

Tel: 518-273-2826





DESIGNERS: Deborah and Marcelo Soriano

Sizes: 6 months to 16 years; Wholesale prices: $7-$55

Submarine is for extroverts who prefer to stand out in crowds.

Outstanding pieces: "We all live in a yellow submarine." That's the mood of this fantasy driven, brightly colored, patterned mixed group.

Tel: 305-931-4196



Originally published January 18, 2007


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