By  on August 27, 2009

DALLAS — A continued slide in tailored clothing sales prompted retailers at the Men’s Show Dallas Collective to focus on sportswear epitomized by colorfully striped shirts, bright polos, shorts and denim.

Buyers said business overall remains challenging as they slashed budgets 20 to 50 percent, figuring they can always obtain goods if sales pick up. The three-day show, which ended Aug. 18 at the World Trade Center here, featured more than 250 lines.

“This boutique show remains strong and vital to the marketplace,” said Bill Winsor, president and chief executive officer of Dallas Market Center. “We continue to deliver a quality buying environment for the top men’s wear stores in the region during this order-writing show.”

The DMC is considering moving the men’s wear showrooms from the seventh floor of the World Trade Center up to the 14th floor with permanent women’s fashion showrooms, which occupy floors 13 to 15. Some contemporary men’s resources are already represented in showrooms on the 15th floor, including AG Jeans, Monarchy Collection, Rock Revival and Smet.

“We are looking at it but would not offer a consolidation unless the industry was in favor of it,” said Robbin Wells, executive vice president of leasing.

As for traffic, sales representative Greg Burns said: “We saw the same 50 [stores] we always work with. Everyone is worried and crying, but we’re doing just fine.”

Burns represents Kroon colorful washed sport jackets, which opened eight new accounts, according to Brent Kestin, designer.

Larry Bryson, men’s buyer for J.E. Neilson Co. in Oxford, Miss., said he is again cutting back on tailored clothing despite his clientele of attorneys, doctors and University of Mississippi staff. Founded in 1839, J.E. Neilson is one of the oldest department stores in the world.

“It’s much more dressed down,” Bryson observed. “They rarely wear suits, coats or sport jackets, and the only time attorneys wear a suit is in court. We are looking for new and exciting ways to keep it lively.”

Bryson cited colorful striped shirts by Thomas Dean and Polo Ralph Lauren knit tops in solid colors, from basic blue and red to greens, orange and pink paired with shorts in neutral hues.

The customer is “price-point driven,” said Luke Abney, co-owner of The Rogue Ltd. men’s shop and Forty Four Fifty women’s boutique in Jackson, Miss. “The men’s business is definitely worse than women’s,” he added.

Abney sought fashion pieces and unique items retailing under $100 for fall.

“Peter Millar had very good wovens and patterns, and Thomas Dean sport shirts are the best value in the market,” he said. “Sutter’s jeans retail for $68 — we put them with a great shirt and a pair of Hush Puppies.”

Business is “actually OK” at John Ryan’s Clothing, a two-year-old upscale sportswear shop in Lakeway, Tex., near Austin, said owner John Silvos.

Silvos focused on shirts retailing for up to $200 as well as T-shirts, polos, shorts, swimwear and leather jackets. He planned to buy more heavily from fewer, best-selling resources, including Bugatchi, Nat Nast Luxury Originals, Tori Richards Ltd. and Coppley Apparel.

“Austin is beyond casual,” Silvos said. “You have a nice T-shirt and shorts and you’re ready to go to the opera. But they want nice casual, and not what everyone else has.”

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