By  on March 29, 1994

LAS VEGAS -- Fall prints -- often bright, sometimes soft -- were top attractions at the recent edition of the Big and Tall Woman's trade show here.

Buyers often talked about active business in their stores and increased budgets, as they shopped this specialized market, which ran through March 16 at the Tropicana Hotel. Several retailers said their open-to-buys were up from 10 to 25 percent over a year ago, and they appeared to be actively placing orders among the 220 plus-size lines and 90 tall-size lines on display.

Lin Anderson, owner of More to Hug, a plus-size boutique in Camarillo, Calif., was ordering fall merchandise as well as immediate goods for her second store, which she is just opening in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"Business is fabulous," she said. "Through television advertising and word of mouth, we pull in clients from 100 miles away."

With a budget for her established store up 17 percent, Anderson sought a wide range of merchandise, from innerwear to dresses, at price points up to $185 wholesale. She gravitated to geometric and Monet-like floral prints in soft colors, including dusty blue, mauve and sage. Among her finds were crinkle rayon and challis prints from 2 Rare and soft print dresses at Masone.

Canadian retailer Terry Short, co-owner of Simply Grand in Burnaby, British Columbia, said business has been erratic in her area. Sales are up 20 percent one month and down 10 percent the next, she said. Still, because of what she perceived as a strong demand for plus-size clothes, she planned to increase her fall open-to-buy at least 10 percent.

"I buy here what I can't get in Canada: super sizes [above size 20]," she said. Short looked for versatile items at up to $200 wholesale.

"The garment must have value. It must be something that can be worn to different functions," she said. She favored classic sportswear and dresses by Wild Rose as well as offerings from Vikki Vi.

Another Canadian, Stephanie Goulet, co-owner of Suzanne Bell Fashions in Vancouver, looked for casual sportswear in super sizes, preferring bright colors including fuchsia and gem tones.

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