DALLAS — Accessories, youthful fashions for the over-30 set and a liberal use of color spurred ordering at the trans-seasonal market that ended Sunday at the Dallas Market Center, where buyers shopped for deliveries from June through December.
While the dress business remains strong, buyers also showed increased interest in pants and coordinated sportswear ensembles. Trends included colorblocking, ruching, shoulder accents, high-low hemlines and touches of sequin embellishment, as well as prints, denim jeans in subtle metallics, prints and dark blue, and real and fake fur vests.
Traffic appeared to be adversely affected by the show’s timing over a weekend when many school graduations were held in Texas, but more retailers shopped by appointment during the two days before the show officially opened on May 31, sales representatives noted.
“The market was front-loaded,” said David Rhea, owner of the Indigo Agency denim and contemporary showroom. “The buyers were generally in a good mood and had inventories in check for summer as it gets hot.”
Color was a big emphasis.
“The rich, clear colorations of spring have been successful and we look to continue it in the fall, particularly in our stores in the South,” said Terry Smith, vice president of bridge collections at Dillard’s. “The evolution of the colored pant to prints is fresh, new and interesting.”
Smith zeroed in on color, novelty and specialty labels for the department store chain, which stocks bridge in 125 of its 300 doors, he noted.
“Business has been growing nicely,” Smith said. “Part of our strategy is to go after niche brands not represented in other department stores, like Dolce Cabo, Bryn Walker, Niche, Finley, Alberto Makali.”
Sales are up 11 percent and profits are climbing gradually at McCaulou’s, an independent chain of 10 family clothing stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, said Elizabeth Webb, director of women’s.
“My budget is up,” Webb said. “The owner, David McCaulou, is always encouraging us to be aggressive in making great buys and getting a lot of merchandise to keep it fresh.”
She shopped for eye-catching accessories with good value by Brighton, Vera Bradley, Big Buddha, Fossil, Johnny Was and Ethel & Myrtle, plus Lucky Brand jeans, Karen Kane sportswear and Foxcroft novelty tops.
“The women’s department is getting younger,” Webb added.
Dresses have excelled at Hersh’s, said Harold Rothenberg, owner of the upscale store in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
“We’ve done a tremendous dress business for spring, and I did a lot for fall,” Rothenberg said.
At this show, however, he concentrated on sportswear “cut for a woman,” including pants by Donna Degnan and Peace of Cloth, and sportswear collections from Estelle and Finn and Cullen.
“Dresses are on fire,” said Dana Melton, co-owner of Lori Veith Sales better-to-bridge showroom. “It’s been over three years and they’re not going anywhere. It’s easy, one piece, and $150 to $450 retail versus $1,000 for a sportswear ensemble.”
Tootsies dress buyer John Maguire said he’s taking fall deliveries later than he ever has for the company’s stores in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta.
“I used to bring fall in in July and it would sit on the floor,” he said. “I’m taking a lot less in July and little more in August.”
Jaminda Bass, design director at Peruvian Connection catalogue in Kansas City, Kan., shopped for accessories and pants to sell alongside the company’s Andean knitwear. The company does 40 percent of sales domestically with the majority in Germany and the U.K., she said.
“The U.S. customer has come back and is doing well,” she said. “The U.K. customer continues to be soft and Germany has been consistent but slightly softer.”
The venue attracted about the same number of stores as last year with a 20 percent increase from the Midwest and a 15 percent jump in international buyers, said Cindy Morris, DMC chief operating officer.
“We see that across all markets, even the gift shows, the buyers are coming earlier to work with the reps more individually,” she observed. “It seems that whenever you start the market they all want to come in the day before.”