By  on March 31, 2010

DALLAS — Buyers scooped up leather and fur styles, and items embellished with textural details, sequins and ruffles at the four-day market that ended Sunday at the Dallas Market Center.

They also responded to abstract prints, military jackets, flirty skirts and layered knits. Career-oriented stores welcomed the return of classic bouclé and four-pocket jackets, some with jeweled buttons or sparkling threads that evoked the Eighties.

Retailers reported wildly disparate results for the first three months of the year. Some enthused about sales gains, but others complained that persistent cold weather and unusual snowfalls in the South delayed spring selling. They were cautious and buying close to need, with many concentrating on deliveries from April through June or July. Budgets ranged from down slightly to up 10 percent.

Sales representatives said they saw signs that business was improving.

“We were way ahead both on appointments and business writing, which speaks poorly of last year and well of this year,” said Scott Harner, who represents lines such as AG Adriano Goldschmied, Big Star and Desigual.

Margaret Byers, bridge and designer buyer for Julian Gold, which has four stores in Texas, said, “Bridge is doing OK for me and I have a lot of growth in designer. We’re doing well with Escada, Weill, Jon. My customers want items, whether it’s a jacket, skirt or pants.”

Byers increased her fall order of Lafayette 148, selecting a reversible black leather and astrakhan jacket.

“We are doing a lot of leather for sure, as well as ruffles, color, details and detachable fur trims,” Byers said.

Shelby Burkett, owner of Mary V’s in Tyler, Tex., wrote her first order for Nougat London, picking a bisque mohair sweater with scattered sequins and a mocha embroidered ribbon-striped flirty skirt. She also was enthusiastic about Kelli Kouri’s gray fox and suede vest.

“I am tweaking my fall buy to try to get something new and fresh,” Burkett said. “I am buying more dressier things, fewer expensive things and a wider range of price points.”

Karan Dannenberg said her fall budget was up 10 percent as she selected Finley’s slate blue asymmetric zip suede shirt jacket for her namesake store in Seattle.

“Business has really picked up from the fourth quarter on,” Dannenberg said. “I’m on a mission for mother-of-the-bride dresses — it’s a tough category to fill. I love Xeniya gowns with shrugs and short jackets, and Marisa Baratelli. And the new Dress to Kill ombré ruffled cashmere sweaters are beautiful.”

Debbie Kellum, owner of Ashlin’s in Grapevine, Tex., picked up June deliveries of Language, including a turquoise and chocolate floral print V-neck tunic with a raglan sleeve, as well as dresses by Alberto Makali and Eva Franco, and colorful novelty tops by Johnny Was.

“I’m cutting back,” she said. “We had such bad weather this year so that set me back a little bit. I’m being more conservative.”

Kellum plans to boost business with events, like an upcoming earth-themed day promoting florals in fashion and tabletop, along with fresh flowers.

Marla Ross, owner of Adelante in San Antonio, said she sought summer deliveries of clothes that “feel like pajamas but look incredible,” like a scarf-print silk dress with a dramatic handkerchief hemline by Johnny Was. Ross also liked embroidered Biya shirts and colorful printed knit tops by Desigual.

“I’m not ready for fall,” she said. “I’m waiting to see what color palettes and fabrics my customers are loving before I go into muddy charcoal.”

Double D Ranch, which specializes in Western and hippie-chic fashion, served frozen margaritas and a Tex-Mex buffet to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

“It was our best spring-summer [season] in 20 years,” said Cheryl McMullen, designer at the family business in Yoakum, Tex. “They loved the color.”

She took inspiration from Talitha Getty’s bohemian jet-set style for her fall collection that features a cotton poplin military jacket embellished with kitschy travel patches.

Cindy Morris, chief operating officer at the Dallas Market Center, said, “The recent market sealed a complete year of attendance increases for FashionCenterDallas.”

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