MADRID — Citing shrunken budgets and the domestic retail decline, exhibitors at Madrid's SIMM trade fair weren't afraid of the "R" word — far from it.
"Recession? We're feeling it," said Juan Rodriguez, commercial director of Dikton's. "Consumers are readdressing their priorities and apparel is being affected. The domestic market is going into single-brand retailing; multibrand stores are not doing well and basic retailers are suffering. Nobody needs more basics, so we're trying to promote impulse buying with a 'wow' factor."
Rodriguez said Dikton's, a high-end knitwear producer based in Barcelona, is chasing new business with a fall collection that features a range of mid-to-long cardigans with allover loop trim and dresses with a tulip-shaped skirt, fuller sleeve treatments or contrast stitching in gray, oatmeal, grape, jade and black. The line wholesales for 50 to 90 euros ($74 to $132 at current exchange).
With 1,000 points of sale worldwide, Dikton's sells to 150 wholesale accounts in the U.S. — or 10 percent of sales — including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Spain absorbs 30 percent of total business with the remainder shipped to international markets.
Skittish consumer spending and a rising inflation rate in Spain, where it's currently 4.3 percent, has "reduced customers' economic horizons, causing a general recession," claimed Joyce Antaki, Spanish agent for After Six, a division of Medici, a U.K. producer of eveningwear and special occasion dresses. "It's not the best of years; it's not the best moment. Consumers have priorities other than fashion, like a mortgage. Retailers are cutting back; they're buying smaller quantities but they are buying."
Antaki said easy-going silhouettes with less embellishment and short lengths in black are "really hot, and for every long gown, we sell nine short dresses." Other key items include Empire-waist styles and shifts in velvet, poly-chiffon and lamé with cascading pearls or oversized sequin trim (wholesaling for $161 to $191).
According to official figures, the biannual fair, held Feb. 15-17, drew 17,813 visitors, a 6 percent hike over last September's show. Foreign attendance rose 7 percent, to 2,151. Exhibitors — about 800 — remained the same.
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