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Wide-Open Spaces

The largest apparel mart in Dallas continues to expand its offerings.

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DALLAS — An expanded area of contemporary showrooms, bigger temporary shows and a continued outreach to buyers will propel FashionCenterDallas in the second half of 2005.

The $20 million facility opened in March 2004 on the top floors of the 15-story World Trade Center, showcasing more than 15,000 lines of apparel and accessories in a cleanly designed environment bathed in natural light.

“In the last 18 months, we have clearly established FashionCenterDallas as the leading national marketplace,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the Dallas Market Center Co., which manages the wholesale complex. “And over the second half of 2005, we are going to expand upon this success. We see an opportunity to continue to broaden our reach across the U.S. and internationally.”

One of FCD’s key draws is its array of contemporary lines, and the center will pick up more in August when it reassigns 9,000 square feet to its 15th-floor neighborhood of contemporary showrooms, for a total of more than 125,000 square feet. The DMC is negotiating with seven to 10 new showrooms to occupy the space, which formerly housed swim vendors. The swimwear is moving to a dedicated area on the 14th floor.

“We are pleased that demand for contemporary space in FashionCenterDallas has grown since it opened,” Morris said, noting the new showrooms are due to open in time for market week, Aug. 18-21.

The center’s temporary shows are also on the upswing. They currently include about 135 booths in the juried Scene show of contemporary, bridge and accessories categories on the 13th floor, and Temporaries on 12, which spans 700 booths of upper-moderate-priced merchandise on the 12th floor, including prom, shoes, Western wear and a variety of sportswear and accessories.

“In the last three markets, the temporary shows have become a serious destination,” said Peg Canter, vice president of apparel trade shows. “I’ve had lots of stores tell me they have found product that is not represented in their competition, and they have gotten really good markups.”

In response to demand from resources that are too pricey for Temporaries on 12 but not contemporary enough for Scene, Canter plans to create a new temporary show of juried misses’ collections next to Scene.

“I’m looking into creating a 100-booth show for them,” Canter said.

She was not sure if the new show would make its debut at market week Oct. 27-30 or next March, but was leaning toward next year so that the project could be sufficiently budgeted in 2006.

In the short term, Canter intends to boost prom business in August by hosting three associations of prom stores — the Cool Book, the National Prom Association and Hot Shot — that collectively represent about 75 stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

To serve them, the DMC will underwrite a two-day prom seminar and fashion show, and provide breakfast, lunch and meeting places for retailers. About 100 exhibitors are expected to lease booths for the show, and all prom vendors in the building will be invited to participate in the fashion show, she said.

Earlier this year, Canter moved temporary shoe exhibitors from the first floor to the 12th floor for closer proximity to fashion buyers and to increase the number of exhibitors. The shoe show numbers about 25 booths and is expected to grow.

In addition, a 10,000-square-foot Mexico pavilion will open this month on the sixth floor to promote fashion accessories and home products. According to the DMC, it will represent the first permanent showroom of Mexican products in the United States.

On the marketing front, FCD will energize its ad campaign in July with the new slogan, “Find Your Center.”

The DMC has recently concentrated on attracting Florida retailers. “Since FashionCenterDallas opened, we have seen an increase in out-of-territory attendance by more than 25 percent, particularly from the East and West Coasts,” Morris said. “Our retail development efforts continue to attract buyers from a large geographic zone supported by retail road trips, telemarketing and targeted direct marketing efforts.”

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