By  on November 10, 2005

DALLAS — White dresses, knee-length shorts and short-shorts were the newest silhouettes to capture buyers’ attention during the spring market at FashionCenterDallas.

Retailers also liked the unusual color array more typically associated with fall, such as chocolate, deep orange and olive. And the South’s passion for embellishment raged on, as stores continued to invest in fashions sparked with touches of beading, crystals and embroidery, though the glitz was a tad more understated than at past shows.

“We don’t want it to get too minimal,” said Paul Sutton, a principal in the Lori Veith Sales showroom. “Minimal style equals minimal sales.”

The Dallas Market Center, which operates the show, said attendance was up from last year at the market that ended Oct. 30. The market center didn’t provide specific figures.

“Overall, there was an increase in the number of stores attending from both the immediate area, as well as stores from the wider region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer. “Many showrooms reported that stores left significant orders at market.”

Retailers said fall business had been brisk and was running ahead despite bumps from the hurricanes that savaged the Gulf Coast and Florida. Some increased their budgets 5 to 20 percent. But the unpredictable pace of sales coupled with political turmoil and high fuel prices led others to keep their budgets flat.

“It’s been a good fall, up 15 percent,” said Monica Smits, who owns Aspen Traders in Wichita, Kan., with her husband, James. “But we’re planning spring the same because in this climate, I feel like it’s up and down.”

As she reviewed Nicole Miller’s cocktail dresses, Freda Greenbaum, an owner of A Nose for Clothes in Miami, said she wasn’t certain how to plan her spring budget. Her company was having a stellar year until Hurricane Wilma hit, affecting all six of her Florida stores, she said. The company also has two units in Atlanta.

“Our experience is that women will want to shop more than ever to feel good, and they’ll need Nicole Miller’s dresses and everyone else’s,” Greenbaum said.

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