By  on February 10, 2005

DALLAS — Buyers shopped for spring immediates, summer fill-ins and early fall styles, with budgets that were flat to about 10 percent higher at last month’s market at FashionCenterDallas.

Key trends included bright colors such as turquoise, green and pink, novelty, abstract and large-floral prints, embellishments like beading, embroidery and metallic trims and a love of capri pants, summer shorts and peasant tops.

Stores at the event from Jan. 20-24 reported strong Christmas business but a slower January pace at the cash register. Still, they were upbeat and felt women were ready to spend money on fashion in the coming months.

“January market was a strong finish to a full year of successful markets in our new venue,’’ said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer at the Dallas Market Center, parent of FashionCenterDallas. “We have experienced strong attendance gains, both in and out of territory, that we expect to carry through 2005.

“March marks the one-year anniversary of FashionCenterDallas and we are hosting a crossover market to celebrate. All showrooms, including apparel, accessories, gift and home, will be open to offer buyers a unique opportunity to maximize their buying trip.”

Showrooms said traffic was typical for a January market, when buyers preview early fall lines and make plans for big buys in March. Buyers kept up the vigil to find trendy destination styles not available at department stores and hot fashion items versatile enough to be dressed up or down and not offered by fast-fashion mass discounters.

Patty Hoffpauir, owner of The Garden Room, a specialty store in Austin, Tex., used her even budget to buy early fall sportswear and accessories, such as belts and handbags, and lamented the lack of dresses and long-sleeved blouses.

“Yansi Fugel had a beautiful cotton sateen and cotton gauze sportswear group in fuchsia and turquoise that was just terrific,” she said. “She really understands what a specialty store needs to entice shoppers. I also wrote orders for ethnic belts from Leatherock, beaded tops and T-shirts from Luna Luz, colorful denim jeans from Cambio and fabulous Thai-silk blouses from Marisa Baratelli that were piped in black and white. I only wish more vendors would offer some styles with sleeves. Women really want that and they’re just not available at most showrooms.”Linda Keith, owner of Best Kept Secret, a specialty store in Kingwood, Tex., was scouting for early fall sportswear and fashion items that weren’t too expensive.

“I usually order lots of separates and coordinate them into an outfit, which women seem to really appreciate,” Keith said. “I also bought bright pink and yellow metallic sportswear from Votre Nom with shorter and more fitted jackets and longer hemlines; colorful fur-trimmed cropped jackets from São Paolo; leather and suede sportswear from Double D Ranch Wear that was accented by embroidery and beautiful colors such as turquoise, brown and rust; silk-screened T-shirts from Custo Barcelona, and fitted T-shirts from Michael Stars.”

Kristin Ernst, buyer at San Antonio store Grove Hill, shopped for spring, summer and early fall styles and picked up a few new lines along the way. Her budget was up about 10 percent.

“I bought MK Solo for the first time and am really impressed with their sheer fabrics and feminine styling, and the versatility of the styles, which can be worn casual or dressy,” Ernst said. “I thought BCBG looked really good, too, especially the halter tops and three-quarter-sleeved tops. We also bought Elliott Lauren’s gold-trimmed jackets and bottoms in black and bright colors such as lime, fuchsia and turquoise, and Vince’s basic shorts, capri pants, tank tops and T-shirts.”

Barbara Sledge, owner of Studio SoHo, with stores in Lubbock and Midland, Tex., said: “We were buying spring immediates and will wait until March to pick up summer and early fall. We are more outfit-driven than item-driven at my stores, so I spend a lot of time at market looking for lines that have some depth that I can really merchandise and use to increase multiple sales.”

Sledge bought Juicy Couture’s terry cloth peasant tops and washable linen tops and bottoms, Maria Bianco Nero’s fitted eveningwear in pink, gold and black, and Walter’s trendy and colorful suits with slightly longer hemlines.

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