Prices, Novelty Drive Dallas Market

Buyers struck a balance between immediate and fall ordering.

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DALLAS — After a cool and rainy spring, buyers at the Dallas Apparel and Accessories Market were looking to bulk up their fall offerings while searching for holiday pieces with novelty touches.

Affordable price points topped the need list for buyers like Erika Perkins, owner of Lyla Jane Co., a shop set in the 312 Downtown Boutique in Benton, Ark. Perkins was tasked with finding lines for under $100 retail that appeal to mature shoppers, while also securing collections retailing for under $50 for younger customers.

“There is a comfort level for both groups, so I’m looking for a mix to appeal to both,” Perkins said.

Striking that balance weighed heavily on buyers who were still working though spring merchandise while filling in fall and planning for holiday.

Kami Murphy and her husband opened an Apricot Lane franchise in March in their hometown of Wichita, Kan., and their buying trip centered on deciding what her customer wants to wear now, as well as what she will want in the fall. Murphy said the current trends seemed to be guiding the way.

“I can’t keep maxidresses in the store,” she said. “They fly out so fast, so I’m thinking more maxidresses for fall with a jacket. Graphic prints, floral prints and color, that’s what she wants.”

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What all buyers wanted was novelty, especially for holiday. Whether sparkle, metallics or embellishments, the need for eye-catching pieces was paramount.

“Across the board, they want color and novelty, something fabulous. They are willing to pay a bit more for it, but they want things that will ring the cash register,” Brad Hughes of the Brad Hughes and Associates showroom said. “They are looking for pieces that make them stand out among the other retailers.”

Upscale boutique buyers at Hughes’ showroom fell for Theia, a collection of cocktail and evening gowns for holiday and special events.

Contemporary lines like Julie Brown and Red Haute were big sellers at the Pam Martin & Co. showroom. Boutique buyers were drawn to Brown’s maxi wrap dress in bold chevron print and silver and gunmetal sequin chevron shorts for holiday. Red Haute’s holiday was a bit more subdued in earthy ombré dip-dyed dresses and lightweight sweaters with embellished details. Retail price points fall under $200, which is inching higher than in the past.

“Spring was very hard, so I am very happily surprised with this market,” Martin said. “Buyers want interesting color combinations, prints and things that look expensive.”

A gradually rise in price points was a welcome change for both buyers and vendors, and dresses maintained the momentum from previous seasons. Rashanda Kelley, women’s clothing buyer for the Home on Bishop boutique in Dallas, was searching for memorable dresses and embellished sweaters.

“We are slowly starting to introduce higher-end merchandise,” Kelley said. “People don’t mind spending more money on something that stands out and is more novel.”

She was also big on the easy-to-wear Los Angeles-based knit line Nally & Millie she discovered at the D. Reeves & Co. showroom, which drew praise from buyers for its $60 to $100 retail prices and luxe look.

Even though it’s not one of the bigger markets, attendance and buying were up at the market, which ended its four-day run on Sunday.

“Quality buyers placed strong orders, and exhibitors reported opening new accounts during the recent market,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer at the Dallas Market Center.

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