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DALLAS — Textured and detailed styles appealed to buyers at the four-day show that ended March 24 at the Dallas Market Center, where a number of buyers were picking up spring inventory, even though the market is primarily for fall.

“It’s all about the product, color and novelty,” said Brad Hughes, whose showrooms focus on bridge dress, sportswear and accessories lines. “There is so much competition from online and off-price that it’s a battle out there.”

Popular trends included leather and ponte combinations in dresses and leggings, easy tunics and dresses with high-low hemlines, tailored dresses with mesh insets or jeweled embellishment, stud and zipper details on shirts and jackets, bold prints, and richly textured fabrics including brocade, bird’s eye knits, perforated leather, lace and lightweight cotton tweeds.

“Everyone is looking for something different to give the customer a reason to buy,” said Lisa Shapiro, whose Lisa Todd label offers novelty intarsia and textured sweaters. “We always give them that unexpected detail — that subtle wow. Business is great.”

Evelyn Anastos, president of Theia dresses, said, “A lot of people are looking for immediates. They were afraid to place in November…They were playing it safe and now they’re ready to step out.”

“People are excited about putting last year behind us and getting into spring as the weather starts to cooperate,” said Mike Lovely, vice president of sales at Palos Verdes Footwear, which opened two showrooms.

Bob Benham, owner of Balliets in Oklahoma City, budgeted up 3 to 5 percent for fall, especially for “ageless” clothing with “good design and beautiful fabrics” by B&K by Buchanan Kang, Elizabeth McKay and Donna Degnan.

“Modern contemporary clothing is where the business is going,” Benham said.

Christine Bailey, owner of Barbara Jean in Little Rock, Ark., said, “It’s for the older woman who wants to wear contemporary but can’t. Lafayette 148 is amazing for them.”

Bailey hiked her fall buy about 2 percent, noting that 2011 was the store’s best year ever.

Grayson DiFonzo showed late spring deliveries of the Buddy Love label of colorful contemporary sportswear made in Los Angeles and wholesaling in the $30s.

“Made in America is starting to become a really big deal to my customers,” said DiFonzo, who also represents other contemporary lines.

Longtime retailers James and Monica Smits fretted about their local economy as they picked up embellished tops and jackets by Biya and 3 J Workshop for their Aspen Traders store in Wichita, Kan.

“We’re very careful right now,” James Smits said, noting that Boeing, which once employed 40,000 in Wichita, is shutting its last plant in the city. “We’re really tightening up and not carrying anything extra.”

“If anything,” added Monica Smits, “we are going to go higher end.”

Leggings have been stellar, and the couple stocked up at Hue, Karen Kane, Lynn Ritchie and Lisette.
“Market traffic was steady and energetic with quality buyers from throughout the country placing orders,” said Cindy Morris, DMC chief operating officer.

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