Sustainable denim stole the show at Coterie New York.
The trade show returned to Manhattan on Feb. 21-23 at the Javits Center, uniting global brands and designers with industry buyers and lending fresh voices to conversations around sustainability, technology and community.
And, of course, what retailers should be buying right now.
“There is a strong focus on material sustainability, structure and versatility at Coterie New York; three verified sustainable denim brands on the Coterie show floor are Mavi, DL1961 and HNST,” Courtney Bradarich, vice president of Coterie and Project Women, said. “The denim world is focusing on sustainability as a core initiative, so there is a strong emphasis on creating more eco-friendly materials. Trends we saw that are most notable are lower waists and two-tone patterns.”
Taking notes from last month’s Project New York show, Los Angeles label Unpublished noted that the reign of skinny jeans isn’t over just yet. And for DL1961, skinny jeans continue to find a place with retailers. The New York-based vertically integrated denim brand showcased two skinny styles along with wide legs, flares and boot cuts. DL1961’s Fall/Winter 2023 fabrics included performance denim, which combines the brand’s high-retention stretch technology with certified cotton, knits, leather and corduroy.
Unpublished also noted that miniskirts are back in full swing, selling well as a set with matching cropped denim jackets. Maximalism is at play for Niki Korman’s denim line NTK as minis and maxis have been added to the young contemporary label’s latest offerings.
“I think when Miu Miu had the really mini skirts, that kind of took off, and then the last few months it’s been maxi skirts and the reason I didn’t have maxi skirts, I wasn’t planning on maxis, but I have the rodeo jeans. So what I did is I took them, like the actual jean, and I was like, you need to make maxis out of it,” Korman said. “So I took them to my manufacturer and we cut them up and that’s how we got the maxi skirt. So I’m kind of like repurposing things that I already love.”
Showing its core collection with spring colorways, NTK showcased creams and whites as well as coated denim, plus a new offering of shorts. The label has two dresses currently in the works as well.
“We’re four years old but still very new. You know, you can’t give everyone what they want,” the self-proclaimed selfish designer said. “So having more diversity for consumers, buyers, obviously that’s really important, I wanted to give more people more options, especially buyers as well.”
With that in mind, Korman designed the “Haley” shorts with an angled hem, so the inside area is longer than the outside edges, providing more coverage and less inner thigh chaffing. NTK also released the “Emma” shorts, a Bermuda baggy fit with a pintuck stitch made of 100 percent cotton. The brand’s next production batch will include sustainable buttons and rivets.
Belgium-based HNST made sustainability the focus. The label recycles old jeans, mixing those fibers with Tencel Lyocell in Germany before spinning the results into yarn in Belgium. From there, HNST’s sustainable denim fabric is blended with Greek cotton in Spain. Utilizing a smart indigo technology to dye its jeans, HNST uses 95 percent less water than traditional synthetic dyeing techniques. The jeans are also entirely plastic-free as they’re not coated in PVC postproduction.
“Sustainable is one thing, but it’s also designed from a circular point of view,” Martin Swolfs, CEO of HNST, said. “So all of the hardware, you can unscrew [it]. We have a take back program, so at the end of the lifecycle when the customer wants to return it, they can send it back to us. And then we give them a voucher and [the returns] can easily go back into our production.”
With that in mind, HNST wasn’t showing a cyclical capsule but rather its core collection with new colorways (thanks to mineral dyes) or seasonally appropriate styles.
“But it takes a bit more time for us to introduce new styles and new categories because we’re always doing it from a circular point of view,” Swolfs said. “So we always have to be careful [of] how we approach our design process, because we’re already thinking [about] the end of the lifecycle, so sometimes you come across limitations or restrictions and you have to find creative solutions.”
While HNST was created five years ago—spending three of those years purely in research and development—Swolfs joined the team last October and has since begun its international expansion. For this spring/summer collection, the label is debuting in Saks Fifth Avenue and L.A.-based American Rag.
Also known for its sustainable roots, Mavi was showing more novelty pieces at Coterie. The Turkish brand saw corduroy trending well along with its new modal-based sportswear line. Wide legs are getting wider and the mahogany colorway was selling well, a rep said.
The trade show continues to find ways to inspire attendees and exhibitors alike.
“Coterie is continuing to grow and evolve,” Courtney Bradarich, vice president of Coterie, said. She went on to say that the show “enhanced the Edit section, secured a premier lineup of advanced contemporary brands and created Gallery, a new concept space that offers a collections-focused showcase in a directional setting, for a community of key, like-minded designers. The purpose of Gallery is to nurture, promote and advance the opportunities for the featured designers.”
Coterie New York hosted over 800 contemporary designers and featured a new focused space on the show floor, highlighting a curated portfolio of designers. Gallery showcased brands like Simon Miller, accessories company Lelet NY, London designer Naya Rea, South Korean shoe company Reike Nen, active and leisurewear brand Haus Label, footwear label Dubie, basketball player Russell Westbrook’s Honor the Gift and more. This season, Gallery offered a mixed-merchandise story of new-to-show and of-the-moment designers.
“I am excited to join forced with Coterie because I strongly believe in the power of community and collaboration,” Karina Trofimova, owner of Haus Agency and Haus Label, said. “We all need to unite and lift each other up as we are stronger together. I believe that the strong commercial knowledge of the Coterie team coupled with our eye for unique emerging talent will result in a very special event.”