By  on May 13, 1994

LAS VEGAS -- Buyers shopped the latest edition of the Ladies Apparel Show Vegas here primarily for summer fill-ins such as rayon dresses, cotton short sets and embellished T-shirts.

Those willing to look ahead to fall often focused on chenille sweaters and denim goods.

The three-day show at the Sands Expo Center wrapped up Sunday.

Retailers reported budgets that were mixed, as were their reactions to the merchandise. Some said the embellished novelties they saw at the show were exactly what they came to Las Vegas for. Others found assortments too glitzy for their clientele.

Debbie Allen, owner of Ap'ropo, a boutique in Scottsdale, Ariz., looked for June and July merchandise, with short sets, novelty T-shirts, gauzy items such as broomstick skirts, and sundresses at up to $50 wholesale on her buy list. The buyer said she was elated to find sundresses with keyhole backs by Masquerade and certain rhinestone pins by Paul Chang.

Reporting an open-to-buy increase of 20 percent, Allen noted: "My sales are up 10 percent from a year ago, and April was the best month I've had since I opened the store 3 1/2 years ago."

Marianne McIntosh, owner of Gift Closet, another Scottsdale boutique, was also enthusiastic about her finds. She stocked up on handpainted sweaters, tops and jackets by Sarah and cotton sportswear by Shannon. Shopping price points of $30 to $200 wholesale, she reported an open-to-buy up 20 percent.

"I like everything, from the sublime to the ridiculous," said Kathy Michal, co-owner of Admiring Glances, a boutique in Enterprise, Ala., who was shopping the show for the first time. "I like ornamented clothing and so do my customers, many of whom drive up from Florida."

With a slightly increased open-to-buy, she looked for summer sportswear at $20 to glitzy jackets at $500 wholesale.

Lori Capobicinco, owner of A Rouge Awakening, a boutique here, said she was seeking "unusual" items at $50 to $150 wholesale, and catching her eye were decorated bustiers, handpainted jeans by Leslie Hamel and glitzy fashion jewelry by Marilyn Barrish.

The retailer reported a flat budget, adding: "I just need a few summer things to tide me over until I shop for holiday goods in September. It's so warm here that we really don't have a fall season."For Annika Johnson, owner of The Bay Club, a boutique in Sister Bay, Wis., the main complaint was, "Almost everything here has glitter or studs on it. I don't think I can sell it. People from the cities come to my resort area store, and they want more simple things in neutral colors."

Armed with a flat budget, the buyer did manage eventually to find earth-tone dresses by Bila and Maxou, loose knitwear by Peaces and Westonwear, and casual sweaters by Michael Seroy. She kept her price points in the $30 to $100 wholesale range and ordered only immediate goods.

Joanne King, owner of Joanne's, a boutique in Richmond, Calif., had a less fruitful buying trip. She noted she was in search of clothes appropriate for her customers, who are "church people," and came up empty-handed. Shopping price points of $79 to $275 wholesale, King looked for daytime dresses, knitwear, suits and accessories in wool, silk and polyester and silk blends.

"Everything here is too western looking," she said. "Everything is printed. I want solids."

Meanwhile, overall action at the show suffered in comparison with some of the event's recent editions. For example, the LASV show in mid-February was held in conjunction with the Fashion Accessories Expo -- a show traditionally held in New York -- and attracted 500 apparel exhibitors. This time around, in a solo stand, the LASV, produced by Convention Business Services here, had only 300 exhibitors.

Also, buyer turnout was lower than expected, acknowledged Roland Timney, LASV marketing and show director, although he said he did not yet have final numbers available.

"Traffic was very light, but it would be unfair to compare the numbers with our show a year ago because that ran in April at the same time as MAGIC," he said, referring to the big men's wear show -- an acronym for the Men's Apparel Guild in California -- held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"We knew this show wouldn't be as large as that, but decided that it was important to have a fall show," Timney said. "Unfortunately, this was the only weekend that the hall was available. This was a busy weekend here, and a lot of buyers couldn't get hotel rooms. It's Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day and a big fight weekend."

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