DALLAS--Clyde Utt, a former general manager of the International Apparel Mart who now operates a better-to-bridge showroom there with his wife, Virginia Utt, has a historian's viewpoint on the building.
Utt helped lease the building before it opened in October 1964 and then served as its general manager until 1982.
First called the Dallas Apparel Mart, the complex was built by developer Trammell Crow, whose children continue to own the Dallas Market Center complex--in which the mart sits--through a limited partnership.
The apparel industry in Dallas was split at the time the decision was made to build the mart, said Utt.
"Some vendors and sales representatives showed in hotels and other showed in the Merchandise Mart on Ervay Street," he noted. The Merchandise Mart no longer operates. "We opened the apparel mart to try to consolidate," Utt explained. "We opened with 800 rooms and had almost 300 leased at the opening. Plus the American Fashion Association had about 400 members who agreed to show in temporary space on the fourth floor. After the success of our first October show, we filled the building within a year. We were sort of uneasy when we opened, though, but it proved a success."
In the beginning, the building stood only four floors and comprised 1.2 million square feet. In 1979, the fifth and sixth floors were added for an additional 600,000 square feet. Those floors now are used for office space, shoe showrooms and temporary exhibits. Apparel and accessories showrooms occupy the first through fourth floors.
To reflect the mart's increasing efforts to draw Mexican and other foreign buyers, its name was changed in 1992 to the International Apparel Mart.

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