DALLAS — Price-conscious buyers invested in colorful and detailed fashions for fourth-quarter deliveries at the three-day show that ended Aug. 15 at Fashion Industry Gallery here.
Coming off a summer widely described as tough, most retailers pared budgets as they sought looks that evoked value and were special enough to inspire spending. Date tops and jewelry were priorities, as well as boyfriend and legging jeans, slouchy jackets and leather items.
“We’re not selling basics — it’s all novelty,” said Suzanne Collier, who represents Prairie New York, Central Park West and other resources.
Pam Martin, a multiline sales representative who reported demand for Isabella Fiore handbags, said traffic was off but she saw strong regional accounts, including buyers for Neiman Marcus’ Cusp, Julian Gold, Tootsies and Feinstein’s.
“Most of my stuff is items that retail around $100, so I had a nice show,” Martin said. “Everybody knows the fourth quarter won’t be stellar, but the worst is over. People are not afraid of going out of business, and they want to be status quo until the end of the year. Most people feel it will pick up in spring of ’10.”
Traffic was comparable to the June show, said Bekah McKee, FIG marketing coordinator. “August is typically our smallest market due to so many big shows surrounding these market dates,” she said. “However, exhibitors and showrooms seemed pleased with the amount of orders they wrote.”
Brooke Greene, owner of the Pink Saloon contemporary store, which recently relocated to Wichita, Kan., from suburban El Dorado, Kan., increased her budget 60 percent because business jumped this summer after she moved the boutique.
“I increased my budget for denim, jewelry, handbags, all of it,” she said. “We are increasing our buy for the Web site, too, since that’s growing.”
Greene placed her first order for Testament tops, citing its prints and “great flowing bodies that fit a lot of body types.” She also planned to buy Privacy jeans with pocket stitching that mimics the zigzag on a heart monitor.
Carrie Schwartzenburg was also optimistic. She shopped for Raspberry Rose, the boutique she co-owns in Houston, plus the new shoe and accessories shop called Loop that she plans to open in September. Stocked with trendy styles retailing from $60 to $250, Loop will be directly across the street from Raspberry Rose.
“I know the economy sticks, but I feel like it’s going to come back, and if I can do this right from the beginning I’ll be OK,” Schwartzenburg said. “We have people coming in every day asking, ‘Where can I get shoes?’”
Schwartzenburg picked up sterling initial necklaces by newcomer Katy Grey and necklaces by Catherine Page featuring vintage Chanel chains. She also invested in sexy banded tops by Fifteen Twenty, and novelty tops and dresses by Michael Stars.
“Michael Stars has a crepe dress line that retails at $138 — a great price,” she said. “Young moms want dresses during the day. It’s easy.”
Cassell Heep, owner of Root in Fredericksburg, Tex., kept an eye out for margin builders and incentives like free shipping and discounts.
“I loved all the vibrant colors, bold miniskirts paired with oversize blazers and dolman sleeved tops and tapered trousers,” she said. “At Laurie Hasson, I picked up some fun tweed vests and jackets with fringe, Lurex, and Moroccan details from Meghan Fabulous. They are the perfect weight for our climate, and the price points are great — $49 to $69 wholesale.”
She also placed her first order for Seventies-inspired clogs by Swedish Hasbeens at Powell & Co.
Becky Magella, buyer for Sara Benjamin’s in Cincinnati, said consumers seem to be loosening their purse strings.
“We, like our customers, are focused on buy-now, sell-now and writing what we believe will sell versus pushing our customers into trends...just because they are supposed to be the top sellers of the season in the industry,” she said.
She planned to write orders for Hudson and True Religion jeans.
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