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Strong Trends Spur Dallas Market

Key sportswear trends included ponchos, kimonos, leggings, jumpsuits, moto jackets made of sweatshirt fabrics and flowing sheer printed tops.

DALLAS — Oversize sweaters, graphic T-shirts, dresses and fur-trimmed items topped order forms at the Dallas Market Center’s four-day show that ended Saturday.

Key sportswear trends included ponchos, kimonos, leggings, jumpsuits, moto jackets made of sweatshirt fabrics and flowing sheer printed tops. Casual and festive dresses were also in demand, as buyers placed orders for deliveries from June through November.

The mood among retailers and sales representatives varied from cautious to upbeat, while some reps lamented low buyer turnout.

David Rhea, owner of Indigo Agency, attributed the quiet halls to the show’s timing about a week earlier than usual.

“A ton of our customers had high school graduations this week,” Rhea said. “The average order is up, but attendance is down.”

Launch Showroom met last year’s figures in the first three days, said owner Allyson Siler Cooke.

“Wednesday was crazy,” said Cooke, who shows lines that include Language Los Angeles and Greylin. “We have a bartender at 4 p.m. and they come and hang out.”

Galina Sobolev, owner of Single, said she met with top accounts at the Pam Martin showroom. Her bestsellers included a black jersey racer-back jumpsuit and two-piece dresses with waist-length tops. Over the past seven years, she has moved all manufacturing to the U.S.

“We feel we have better control and we want to create jobs in this country, which has given us so much,” said Sobolev, a Russian immigrant. “It gives us flexibility. We turned one reorder for 390 units in 11 days. We couldn’t do that in China.”

Jan Scott, accessories and outerwear buyer for Tootsies, selected Suzi Roher belts, exotic skin evening bags by Clara Kasavina, and fur-trimmed outerwear by Alberto Makali and Dolce Cabo. The upscale store based in Houston also has units in Dallas and Atlanta.

“The accessories business is pretty good,” Scott said. “The belt business is coming back. I’m looking for outerwear with fur — lightweight pieces.”

Buyer Mollie Williamson had a substantially bigger budget for Angelique on Magazine Street in New Orleans, which is adding fashion to its shoe and accessories mix, and slightly more for the Angelique boutique near Tulane University.

“Business has been really good — people are still shopping — and New Orleans is on the up-build with people moving there,” said Williamson. “We need more special dresses and items. People love to go out.”

Toni Methrin, owner of the 29-year-old Your Shop in Levelland, Tex., kept her budget flat despite the oil-fueled strength of the local economy.

“You have to be careful not to overbuy,” she said.

As she perused printed activewear by Trina Turk Recreation, Methrin observed, “Activewear has become a huge category because women wear it just for shopping.”

David Merk, senior vice president of sales at Magaschoni, said retailers invested in color-blocked wool ponchos, fur-trimmed sweaters and accessories, and November deliveries of sportswear in hot pink, tangerine and buff.

“It’s the distinctive, luxe pieces,” Merk said. “The market is slow in terms of traffic, but we have all our appointments so we’re doing well.”

Jennifer Betbadal Chizmadia, owner of J. Belmont contemporary showroom, did well with fashion-forward sportswear by Lucy Paris and graphic T-shirts by Junk Food and Good hYOUman.

“A lot of people were looking for lower-price stuff,” she added. “Lucy Paris is like $23 [wholesale] for a skirt, $19 for a top, $28 for a dress, and people were receptive to that because it was dressy.”

“Buyers at the recent market were here placing solid orders and opening new accounts,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the Dallas Market Center. “They were buying for fall to prepare for the next quarter with…top-tier lines from within FashionCenterDallas.”