DALLAS -- Items, casual weekend wear and dresses drove the business at a thinly attended six-day fall and holiday market that ended last Tuesday at the International Apparel Mart here.
Buyers, who often complained about a lack of new looks, scoured showrooms for items like leopard-printed leggings, patterned chenille sweaters or A-line leather skirts. They also booked a range of dress styles, from short Empire-waist numbers to flowing cut velvet contemporary styles and special occasion dresses with jackets.
In weekend wear, thermal knits and textured fabrics continued to be strong, along with coordinating knit separates in muted hues.
Sales representatives complained about the slim attendance, but many also said they had opened new accounts and seen high-end stores from across the country that rarely shop here.
"I think traffic was off and it was a very tough show, but I'm really pleased with the quality of stores we had come in," said Brad Ritz, who operates two showrooms focusing on special occasion dresses and suits.
Reps speculated that retailers skipped this market to save money on expenses, figuring they could still order holiday goods at the August show. Others asserted that the number of independent retailers continues to shrink, and five markets a year aren't necessary.
"This is the market that nobody wants to come to, so I don't think anybody is expecting much," said Barbara Hairston, owner and designer of Hairston Roberson sportswear here.
"June is a market we have to keep in perspective because we're coming off a great Mega Market [in April]," pointed out Cindy Morris, executive vice president of marketing at the Dallas Market Center, which owns the Mart. "We thought it was a solid June market and we had some good out-of-territory business. We're really focusing a lot on retail development and trying to bring in the quality stores. I think that's really paying off for us."
Kay Glatter, director of women's merchandising at Stanley Korshak here, was one of the buyers making a first visit to the Mart. Glatter said she came mainly to see Chloe-Valentine, a bridge-priced suit line shown in the new International Suite at the Mart.
"If the market has little gems like that, it's worth the trip," Glatter said.
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