By  on May 16, 2007

Buyers flush with higher budgets hit last week's Moda Manhattan and FAME trade shows, writing orders for fall knits, pants and, of course, dresses.

FAME and Moda again shared space with AccessoriesTheShow at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here May 6 to 8, and numbers were up on all fronts, from buyer attendance to open-to-buys to exhibitor numbers and square footage.

"They were without a doubt the best May shows we have ever run," said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which owns the exhibitions.

In Business Journals' promotion of trends in preshow newsletters and on its Web site, the show identified polished dresses, novelty knits and Katharine Hepburn-esque pants as key trends. With more money to spend, buyers also said they were impressed with the offerings in those categories, and they reported that the gray and metallic color stories were strong. Most wrote primarily for fall.

"There were a lot of choices for women, so people could pick up on what the best trend for them is," said Stacy Levinson, whose family owns the Columbia, S.C., boutique Brittons. "My store appeals to customers from 19 to 90, and those two shows offer something for everyone."

Levinson had higher open-to-buys and placed more orders than normal. She wrote orders for summer and fall and started to look for holiday. In particular, Levinson liked lightweight knits, dresses, particularly with sleeves, and wide-leg, high-waisted pants. She also identified trends in metallics and gray. "You'd have to be blind not to see gray," she noted.

Jennifer Huggard, who owns Tyler House in Raleigh, N.C., wrote immediate spring fill-in orders for dresses, dress tops and long shorts. "We've had a great dress season, and we needed more dresses to get us through the spring," she said. "Moda's vendor selection is consistently getting better each market."

Although Huggard wrote for spring, she mostly looked for fall and holiday, identifying knits, retro jackets and capelets as trends she is eager to sell in her better-to-bridge-priced store. Huggard was less excited about the color palette for fall, though. "All the grays and browns are lovely and sophisticated, but the customer needs to see color to be excited about things," she said. "I wish there was more color in the market."

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