Stock Picks from Apparel's Closet

Q: Is there one company that you foresee leading the field this year? Why?

A: I would say a very hot brand is Coach, with their affordable luxury positioning in designer handbags. They're growing at twice the rate of the handbag market and driving the growth of that sector. So it's a hot brand but not necessarily "the" hot brand of the year.

Q: What are the leading-edge trends in fashion now?

A: We're in a fairly strong fashion cycle, led by color and a slimming of silhouettes. At the same time, what's happening, though, is that the department stores, in an effort to wean themselves from competing only on price, are trying to have exclusive and/or proprietary brands in the store, so they can compete on merchandise, not just price.

Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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