CHICAGO — Retailers came to the StyleMax show at the Merchandise Mart here with a hunger for fresh trends and strong brands, and they seemed to come away satiated.

Patti Brock, owner of Excelsior in Pleasant Ridge, Mich., said: "I’ve been extremely happy with the new lines I’ve seen here. They’re drawing some really great designers and companies."

The Oct. 19-22 market, filling about 100,000 square feet on the eighth floor of the Merchandise Mart, featured between 3,000 and 5,000 labels.

Brock admired fashions from E-Loco of Paris, from which she ordered a black rayon crepe floor-length gown with a plunging back and ribbon detailing.

She also ordered a lightweight brown rayon crepe tunic with a Johnny collar, asymmetric hemline and side wrap with buckle.

For spring, she ordered Fate’s blue boot-cut pants that lace up in the back with a hemline slit and ruffled edge, along with a white, blue and cranberry pinstripe bias-panel dress. From Dex, she bought a loose-knit sweater with rayon and chiffon trim in bone and a deep teal V-neck blouse with corset-style boning and a vertical row of hook and eyes down the front.

"And I’m not done yet," Brock added. "It’s a very good show. Something is making it more enticing than in the past. I’m seeing a lot of new things."

Suzanne Bross, owner of Ego, a specialty store in Austin, Minn., also found success at StyleMax.

"Fashion is going to be really fun for spring," Bross said. "Last year, I had a hard time. Everything was so skintight, so little. Now they expanded [the silhouette]. It’s so much more appealing."

The softer, more forgiving fashions will sell better and appeal to a wider age group, Bross predicted. With that in mind, she placed orders for buff-colored capris and skirts from Eileen Fisher, black and paisley dresses and skirts from Tessuto, and white peasant blouses from Johnny Was and Quick Reflex.

"I wrote more business than ever before," Bross said.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Wise, who plans to open a home accessories and clothing store with her daughter, Mercedes Wise, in Marblehead, Ohio, this April, placed orders from about 30 lines, including tapestry jackets from Flashback, print overalls from Sacred Threads and reversible sweaters from Pashoot."This is our first time here," she said of StyleMax. "We thought it had a wonderful broad range. We’ll be back again."

"Everyone has been busy," said Susan McCullough, vice president of apparel for the Merchandise Mart Properties. "I saw people walking around with stacks of orders, which is good."

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