By  on November 10, 2004

DALLAS — Youthful, embellished and colorful fashions captured buyers’ attention at the spring market at FashionCenterDallas.

Sales representatives reported mixed results, with major showrooms racking up strong business while others fretted that traffic was soft at the four-day event that ended Oct. 24. The Dallas Market Center maintained that attendance was up significantly compared with the same market last year in the old International Apparel Mart.

“We enjoyed double-digit increases in attendance, including buyers taking advantage of our gift and home resources,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the Dallas Market Center. “Overall, there were significant gains in traffic outside our region, especially the Midwest and Southeast, and new resources continue to enter our marketplace, especially in our new temporary show, Scene. We end the year very pleased with the momentum in FashionCenterDallas.”

Buyers were upbeat about the vivid colors and feminine details that traditionally appeal to Southern women. Turquoise, coral, metallic gold and green were key hues, and buyers responded to embellishments such as satin ribbons, lace and ruffles, as well as sequins, rhinestones and beading.

“It’s all about fashion and fun,” said Dana Melton, a partner in the Lori Veith showroom of bridge clothing and accessories. “The only thing that’s not selling is classic and basic and matronly.”

Cathi Lake, owner of J. Winston bridge store in Amarillo, Tex., was so enthusiastic about spring styles she hiked her budget 10 to 15 percent.

“We’ve had a really good year,” Lake said. “I saw a lot of things that my customers don’t own. I saw more than I could buy, which is nice for a change for spring. There’s a lot of new color and I loved the embellishment and lots of feminine touches.”

Lake liked Garfield & Marks’ fresh colors and soft skirts that “were a little bit sassier and less severe.” She also praised Basil & Maude’s embellished skirts wholesaling around $50 as an exceptional value, noting her clientele is less willing to invest in spring clothing than for fall.

“Business has been good,” said Kathy Hatfield, women’s sportswear and coat buyer for Hall’s in Kansas City, Mo.As she wrote an order for a plum silk chiffon baby-doll top with bead and pearl trim from Walter, Hatfield said, “We’ve planned a little bit of an increase, but not huge because last spring was so big — we had double-digit increases.”

Hatfield said she picked up a lot of items from Elliott Lauren, such as capri pants trimmed with crystal buttons and item jackets and prints.

Accessories and items were top priority for Stephanie Kenigsberg, owner of Stephanie’s Stuff in Port Arkansas, Tex., located on a barrier island that’s a popular spot for spring break and summer vacations.

Kenigsberg picked up Luca’s iridescent vinyl minibags with sparkle straps and metal mesh hobo bags for her junior clientele. “This will totally catch the younger customer,” she said. “If it has a little glitz and it’s inexpensive, it’ll sell.”

She also ordered AZI jeans decorated with stones and hand-painted roses, Linea Pelle studded leather belts in bright colors, Todd Bloom ribbon band watches and ABS white cropped pants with a sequined tube top.

Nan Napier, owner of Tres Mariposas in El Paso, came to complete her spring buy with beaded dresses from Sue Wong, among other things.

“We love all the embellishment, the more the merrier,” Napier said. “We’re going to enjoy it while we can get it.”

ElMatha Wilder, owner of the Etui contemporary and bridge store in Houston, said, “Business is fabulous. Brooches are the hottest thing and we need some now. I just got crystal brooches by Coley & T.A.G.”

Wilder came with a buying budget up 5 percent for spring and wrote orders for Donna Degnan’s white denim jacket with silver trim, Yoshi Yoshi’s onionskin tops and Green Dragon’s printed silk charmeuse skirts.

Judy Pryor, owner of Pryorities designer store in Houston, made her top priorities Carol Peretz’s special occasion dresses and Vera Wang’s new bridge-priced evening line. She cited Peretz’s white Art Deco-inspired tulle overlay A-line cocktail dress as a key look.

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