By  on January 30, 1996

DALLAS -- Buyers were practically of one mind as they shopped the market at the International Apparel Mart here last week: They wanted items, novelties and accessories with which to tempt reluctant customers.

So lines like URU, which offered embroidered ikat jackets mixed with printed silk chiffon separates in a distinctive palette, fared best.

"The customer will not be satisfied with basics," declared Kathie Gustin, owner of Impressions and C'est Nouveau contemporary stores in Eureka Springs, Ark. "I'm shopping for anything unusual and different with good prices and fit, and that's hard to find."

Gustin's mission was typical of buyers shopping the five-day event that ended Jan. 22. The market offered goods for a wide period of deliveries, from February to September, and is usually one of the slowest of the five annual market weeks.

"Attendance held its own compared with last January," said Robbin Wells, senior vice president of marketing at the Dallas Market Center Co. "We were thrilled, particularly with the Christmas that we had."

"Anyone who bothers to come to Dallas in January is serious about buying," observed Virginia Utt, a longtime sales rep of better and bridge ready to wear. "A lot of it is that they delayed buying in October, and if they need spring and summer, they better go do it."

Hot looks included pastel shantung or satin dresses, brightly hued printed and solid dresses and sportswear, bold combinations of black and white, fitted ladylike suits sparked by contrasting trim and cigarette pants.

Basics did get some play. Some buyers sought simple knitwear for casual wear; others ordered conservative career styles on the theory that an economic pinch would drive more women into the work force.

Accessories showrooms bustled, as buyers stocked up on delicate jewelry, Y-necklaces, handbags, scarves and belts.

"People still want accessories -- they're just more understated," said Susan Ritter, an owner of Savvy Clothing Co. in Vero Beach, Fla. She and her partner, Deana Marchant, were booking Kate Spade handbags, Moore Collections bags and hats and jewelry by BeJe and Mish.

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