By  on April 7, 2010

DALLAS — Buyers focused on finding fresh looks to entice shoppers, and kept budgets tight at the Fashion Industry Gallery.

The venue, which specializes in contemporary clothing and accessories, drew almost 100 stores that hadn’t shopped it before during the three-day show that ended on Saturday, a FIG spokeswoman said.

Traffic was light, but sales reps said they were pleased with the stores they saw, including buyers from Neiman Marcus and the luxury retailer’s Cusp contemporary concept, as well as casinos and upscale boutiques.

Key trends included motorcycle and military jackets, knits mixed with fur and leather and details such as shoulder accents. Multichain necklaces mixed with leather lariats and statement belts were popular. Dresses continued to sell, particularly in more structured, ladylike styles with piping and tucking.

“I’m looking for stuff that’s new like Haute Hippie’s gray fur jacket with knit sleeves, and L.A.M.B. looked incredible,” said Connie Sigel, owner of Elements in Dallas.

Balliet’s, an upscale boutique in Oklahoma City, boosted its contemporary buy in preparation for its August move into a modern, 17,000-square-foot space at Classen Curve, a new lifestyle center. Balliet’s current store at Penn Place is 12,000 square feet.

“We are trying to make a big push and come down in price a little and make it more accessible,” said Lisa Benham Shinn, marketing director and daughter of owner Bob Benham.

Balliet’s buyer, Stacy Stieglitz, picked up Elizabeth and James, Alice + Olivia and Nanette Lepore, noting that dresses priced at $300 to $400 have been selling well.

An expanded contemporary department is also on tap for J. Winston, a high-end boutique in Amarillo, Tex., said buyer Sarah Boyd.

“There is a lot of new detail and shoulder accents,” Boyd said. “I like Oonagh by Nanette Lepore, which is more casual, layering by Graham & Spencer and the ‘Jackie O’ dress by Black Halo with a detailed neckline.”

Melanie Gayle, owner of two namesake stores in Dallas and Plano, Tex., kept her fall buy flat. She was happy to find styles at reasonable prices, such as Parameter’s leather-look ruffled zip shirt jacket wholesaling at $110, For Joseph’s paper leather motorcycle jackets at $178 and Priorities’ camouflage military jacket.

“Plano is very price-sensitive and I’ve even had to drop $400 dresses in my University Park [Dallas] store,” Gayle said. “The $200 dresses are selling. My customers don’t work and their husbands have cut their allowances. Until real estate gets better and the banks start lending, we won’t see increases.”

Joanne and Charles Teichman picked up hippie-chic styles for their jewelry boutique, Ylang 23 at Galleria Dallas.

“We bought one-of-a-kind lockets and old keys from Wasabi Vintage, and long jade bead necklaces in bright colors like turquoise and coral by Chan Luu,” Joanne Teichman said.

She also ordered Renee Garvey’s carved mammoth-tooth owl pendant with diamond eyes on a gold and leather chain.

Cassandra LA showed its luxurious fox fur, cowhide and leather handbags at FIG for the first time in the Shop show.

“We did very well,” said owner Cassandra Smith. “We got Aria, Beau Rivage, MGM and Bellagio [casinos]. This is such a beautiful show. It was the perfect venue for us.”

Paige Geller of Paige Premium Denim was the featured designer at FIG’s March 25 cocktail party.

“Last year was tough for everyone, but this year we will see a nice amount of growth,” Geller said. “Jeggings are huge.”

Geller was wearing a black crystal-studded skinny jean that will retail for $695 this fall.

“It’s the most expensive jean we’ve ever done,” she said. “Even in this economy, people like to buy something special.”

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