By  on March 16, 2011

Improved retail sales and appealing fall trends are expected to boost business at the fall market March 24 to 27 at the Dallas Market Center.

The apparel show will overlap a home and gift market, a western show and a bridal market to promote crossover buying.

“Our business has grown 15 to 25 percent every market this past year and we expect the same growth for the upcoming market and the remainder of 2011,” said Donald Reeves, owner of his namesake contemporary and misses’ showroom on the 15th floor of the World Trade Center.

“It’s a smaller, tougher world, but we’re excited about what the future holds,” said Brad Ritz, who shows 28 contemporary and bridge lines at his Ritz Group showroom. “It’s a product-driven environment, so it challenges us to be right with the product.”

An important fall trend will be sumptuous, textural fabrics including real and fake fur, velvet, leather, satin, brocade and tweed.

Retailers said business isn’t back to 2007 levels, but it continues to improve.

“The economy is trying to come back,” said Crawford Brock, owner of Stanley Korshak and The Shak in Dallas, noting sales rose 17 percent in January and February. “We’re trying to track down as much newness as possible — that is working.”

“We have to have things that are really special and outstanding because that’s what people want,” echoed Connie Sigel, owner of Elements in Dallas. “I’m still trying to find things that are not saturated everywhere.”

“The Dallas-Fort Worth area has done better than the rest of the country over the last three years as we’ve gone through the most serious economic downturn in 60 years,” observed Bernard Weinstein, economist and adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University. “Still, by historic standards we have a very high unemployment rate in DFW — 7.9 percent — which is a point better than the U.S. average but very high for us.”

The DMC hopes to attract bridge buyers to a new shared showroom called Salon on the 15th floor. Bridge labels set to show there are David Yo, Diana Rosh, Katherine Kidd, Lundström Collection, Studio YL, Tangerine Jill and Zuza Bart.

Another new line is L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani at Brad Hughes & Associates, which is moving its gold-range labels into a new showroom.

In addition, permanent showrooms have been leased to Chinese Laundry shoes and Bora semiprecious jewelry, both on the 13th floor, and Violet Reagan & Associates, which shows evening, prom and pageant dresses.

To improve communication with buyers and exhibitors, the DMC last month introduced a revamped, livelier Web site with more photographs, easier navigation, predictive text, an improved market planner and browsing capability from a mobile phone. In turn, the DMC can sift through the data to determine which lines and categories are of most interest to retailers.

“It’s more intuitive for the buyer and exhibitor to use it,” said Laura Dumas, vice president of creative services. “There are more marketing opportunities for exhibitors and enhanced listings with more images. They can upload images of their products in a slider format.”

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