By  on October 14, 2010

Independent fashion merchants in Texas and Oklahoma forecast slow growth for spring but still lag far behind prerecession levels.

Crawford Brock, owner of Dallas’ Stanley Korshak luxury emporium, predicted it will likely take five years to get back to the sales reached in 2007. Even after a 27 percent year-over-year gain in September and a 15 percent rise in August, Brock was cautious because of weakened consumer confidence.

“I’m curious about what October brings us,” he said. “We are talking about a 10 to 15 percent increase next year [for spring]. But I don’t know if this election will make any difference in terms of generating consumer confidence again and making people feel better.”

The Julian Gold contemporary to designer stores reported gains at all four Texas locations — Austin, Corpus Christi, Midland and San Antonio — said Courtney Percy, marketing director. “The fastest growing is the contemporary business.”

Tootsies reported solid sales in its home base of Houston but is softer in Dallas, which may be due to the heavier competition, said John Maguire, dress buyer. The company is building a 35,000-square-foot flagship in Houston, which is 40 percent larger than its current store.

“For the most part, business has stabilized,” Maguire said.

Business is up 50 percent at Balliets’ new 17,000-square-foot store, which opened in August in Oklahoma City and caters to affluent consumers in women’s fashion, accessories, shoes and cosmetics, said co-owner DeDe Benham. “We’re planning spring up, but not going crazy with it,” she said. “There are still problems with the economy, and especially in [designer] we’re still seeing some resistance.”

CK & Co., a contemporary-to-designer boutique in Oklahoma City, is up 5 percent against last year, which was flat, said owner Jane Webb.

“We are in a wonderful pocket of the country that was not hit as hard as some of the markets on the coasts,” she said. “I’m selling lace, feathers, fur and skinny legs with floaty tops, not basics. You create a reason for them to buy.”

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