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or those living in, or visiting warmer climates, there are a number of stores that sell resort wear fashion apparel. These easy, breezy garments are just what are needed for simple packing, or on-the-go people who wish to go straight from the beach to dinner. From lightweight fabrics that rarely require an iron, to beachy accessories that jazz up an outfit, resort wear appears to be an industry that has steadily been experiencing a great deal of growth.
“This season, everyone has been interested in nice, but casual, organic cotton dresses that can go straight from the beach to dinner. Also, anything with a nautical feel is extremely popular, such as dresses with blue and white pinstripes or men’s pinstriped shorts.”
- Jennifer Lanigan, American Sailor Clothing, Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine, is known for its sandy beaches and tidal pools along the coastline. The relaxed, resort-like feel of the town is reflected in the downtown shopping districts, which feature an array of boutiques and galleries. American Sailor Clothing offers quality, classic resort wear to jazz up those closets. “This season, everyone has been interested in nice, but casual, organic cotton dresses that can go straight from the beach to dinner,” said Retail Buyer Jennifer Lanigan. “Also, anything with a nautical feel is extremely popular, such as dresses with blue and white pinstripes or men’s pinstriped shorts.”
Men are also interested in that beach-to-dinner look, and the shop carries an array of soft, casual shorts in plaid, or weathered fabrics in red and yellow. “The pinstriped shorts with embroidered lobsters or fish have been doing really well, too,” said Lanigan.
Accessories is another big area for the 1,200-square-foot shop. Men, women and children can all find smart-looking, comfortable shoes that are made to wear without socks. “We also have tote bags that feature rope handles or an anchor to give them that nautical look, and they are selling really well,” Lanigan said.
“We are definitely seeing apparel and accessories taking on strength. People really want to add to their wardrobe and make it bit more classic and clean. What you will find here is a notch up from what you might see anywhere else, so we have many repeat customers buying items for themselves, or even as gifts,” stated Lanigan.
The beautiful Hershey Hotel is located in Hershey, Pa. Called “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” the attraction’s hotel houses seven retail shops, including Shine Swimwear, its exclusive swimwear boutique. “Each year, resort wear seems to get bigger and better,” said Leslie Scalzi, store manager, “it is definitely an area of growth.”
Popular merchandise at Shine include Trina Turk swimwear and covers, as well as sunglasses by Tory Burch and Coach. “The Trina Turk collection is so fresh and colorful, so everyone finds it very appealing. As for the sunglasses, those brands are both really popular right now. Everyone knows them and knows they are great quality,” Scalzi said.
Sundresses of all colors and styles are in high demand at the 2,000-square-foot Half Moon Gift Shop, in Weirs Beach, N.H. “Sundresses are really in right now, but they really have always been a staple,” said Cheryl Sharpe, retail buyer. “Sarongs, flip flops, floppy sunhats and fedoras are also huge this summer. Especially the hats, which are really back in vogue.”
Sharpe said she is seeing the accessories and apparel grow somewhat, but that mostly depends on price points. “People do seem to want fun and colorful beach wear, but they do not want to have spend a lot on it. So, we have been doing really great with items in the $20 range,” remarked Sharpe.
The Dune Berry is a sophisticated women’s specialty boutique in Traverse City, Mich. Ann Nash, who owns the shop with her husband, Jim, said that the apparel and accessories appears to be a growing industry, at least in her neck of the woods. “We see a great deal of tourists, as well as locals. The customers are vacationers and they are people who are coming to spend. They want to find clothes or accessories for their outings,” said Nash.
Popular right now at The Dune Berry are enameled bracelets, due to their bright and colorful appearance. “In addition, any dress with spandex is a great travel dress. These are popular because they do not require an iron, so they are easy. Oversized scarves are also big right now,” Nash said. “So much of our merchandise is bright and colorful and I find those pieces are what sells. People feel good in bright clothing. You can see it in their attitude when they wear these items. It changes their behavior,” said Nash.
MacMillan’s Resort Wear, in Palm Springs, Calif., sees a great business with both Tommy Bahama and Jams World, a Hawaiian brand. “We have some great pieces from Jams World,” said Owner Arthur MacMillan. “We do well with crushed rayon blouses, which are very colorful. Also, we have had a dress that has been a constant popular piece for the past 20 years. This is comfortable, loose dress, with a dropped waist and cap sleeves. It looks great on anyone, whether they are in their 20s or in their 80s. It comes in several prints, some floral and some abstract,” said MacMillan.
MacMillan said that there is no sign of success in the resort apparel and accessories industry tapering off anytime soon. “People still want resort wear. You are now seeing it filter into department stores. It is still a growing area.”
In the Cape Cod town of Harwich Port, Mass., stands Hunter’s Simply Resort Wear. Owner Joyce Morahan said that her shop carries skirts, dresses and other casual clothing, all of which has been selling well this year. “In addition to the clothes, sunhats are also a big seller right now. I think they are a big item for the summer season, because it is so hot and people want the protection,” Morahan said.
Morahan stated that apparel has steadily been an area of growth, and mentioned that the accessories category seems to be holding its own, as well. “The accessories area is growing. In fact, some stores do seem to be flooded with accessories, at this point,” Morahan said.