A sense that better times were coming prevailed at the fall II and holiday market that ended its four-day run June 7 at FashionCenterDallas.
Retailers reported a surprising uptick in April and May, as shoppers opened their wallets for feel-good fashions at reasonable prices. But with last year’s inventory glut seared into their minds, buyers concentrated on lower price points and keen editing with budgets, which ranged from flat to shrunk by 40 percent.
“Everyone is more conservative, but people are shopping again,” said Tomas Estebes, co-owner of St. Thomas, a special-occasion store in Austin, Tex. “They are looking for something fun to wear now and nothing over $500 retail.”
Estebes said the store’s open-to-buy for designer is half what it used to be, but spending is up 30 percent on dresses in the $300 to $500 range. He said sales representative Brad Hughes “had a great dress line, Jax, that looks like Hervé Léger and has great prices.”
Estebes and other buyers favored fall and holiday dresses with intricate seaming and defined waists. Many checked out fill-ins for summer and fall, and some wanted to peek at early spring, so the market actually spanned four seasons.
“Attendance was up over last year, and many showrooms reported stronger-than-expected sales,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating office of the Dallas Market Center, which operates FashionCenterDallas. “The mood was positive, traffic was steady and…buyers showed up ready to place orders. The middle of the country remains better off than anywhere else and we anticipate a strong second half of the year.”
FashionCenterDallas specializes in bridge, contemporary and updated misses’ fashions, as well as loungewear, accessories, bridal, prom and shoes.
In addition to dresses, buyers invested in novelty tops, skirts with fullness and details, trouser and boyfriend jeans and lifestyle dressing such as cardigans over leggings. Top accessories included mock patent crocodile handbags in rich colors, layered bracelets and necklaces, and oversize chandelier earrings. Eighties-inspired electric blue made a big comeback and plum maintained its popularity.
“Things are starting to percolate again,” said Pam Kramer, co-owner of Ferrell & Kramer showroom, which represents lines such as Michael Michael Kors. “I feel more optimism among retailers and manufacturers. It’s starting to turn the corner.”
Business “is actually very, very good,” at Moseley & Hollard, a men’s and women’s store in Lafayette, La., said Sara Leboeuf, women’s buyer and manager. “People are going on vacation and they need new things. You do have to work harder, but they are coming in.”
With a holiday budget equal to last year, Leboeuf focused on “standout dresses” by the likes of Chetta B and Bianca Nero.
Jennifer Smith, women’s apparel product manager at Fossil, and Laura Vandagriff, women’s designer, picked up a teal holiday party dress with a ruffled neckline from Theme for $16. They planned to sell it in under the Fossil label in its nascent fashion line.
“Because of factories closing, we need merchandise for quick turn,” Smith said. “Business is getting better, surprisingly. We’re pretty excited about the women’s line.”
Women’s apparel is also new and growing at M. Penner in Houston, an upscale men’s store that branched into women’s two years ago.
“February, March and April were good, and dresses, especially Nicole Miller, saved me for May,” said Steve Skoda, women’s buyer and manager, as he wrote an order for Miller’s black and ivory geometric-print stretch-silk twill shirt dress and other looks. “Her metallic dresses sell and sell. I’m also looking for fun little items.”
Skoda picked up Finley’s black cotton blouse with an attached obi belt in tomato and orange, and studded skinny belts by Suzi Roher.
Kathy Means, owner of Kathy’s Boutique in Athens, Tex., said her business has been equal to or slightly ahead of last year. As she selected organic cotton cardigans from Eco Centric, Means noted she specializes in casual sportswear for baby boomers and retirees from such as Nic & Zoe and Ingenuity.
“Athens is a state-certified retirement community that draws people from all over the [Dallas-Fort Worth] Metroplex,” Means said. “It’s dressy casual. We want to be comfortable but look right.”
Christine Albers, who shuttered her namesake label in 2001, was back with an updated sportswear line she is designing for Kyela, a South Korean manufacturer. Her bestseller was an olive cotton poplin smocked swing jacket wholesaling at $75.
“It’s for a woman who is not 18, but is still hip,” she said. “I picked up customers I had 10 years ago and some new ones, so it has been a really good market for me.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye