Novelty tops and sweaters retailing under $200 were top items at the four-day holiday and resort fashion market that ended Saturday at the Dallas Market Center.
Seeking flirty, feminine styles, buyers responded to shoulder-revealing blouses and keyhole, lace-up or mock-turtle necklines. The preference for novelty extended to blouses, rompers and dresses detailed with lace, crochet, embroidery, grommets or studs.
Soft textiles and comfort remained priorities as Americans become increasingly casual. Even lawyers and bankers don’t necessarily wear suits anymore, buyers observed, and the companywide business-casual dress code issued in June by J.P. Morgan could have broad impact.
Price was also an issue.
“We used to retail jackets for $340 — now, it’s $120,” said Courtney Wicks, owner of J. Hoffman’s, a 43-year-old family business in Lubbock, Tex. “Our customer has gotten a little more trendy and they want more items for the same amount of money.”
Given languid summer business and election rancor, most retailers held tight on spending. But there were bright spots.
Business is up 5 to 10 percent at 31-year-old Janey’s at 2500 in Amarillo, Tex., said owner Janey Morgan. Her contemporary shop carries women’s and children’s clothing and recently added shoes and a lot of jeans.
“People were hesitant to buy, and now they’ve adjusted to oil prices and they’re ready,” Morgan observed. “They’re looking for feel-good items.”
Seeking holiday tops and sweaters, Morgan picked up Minnie Rose cashmere sweaters, including an ivory look with three ties on each sleeve and a cornflower blue duster. She was also on the lookout for new denim lines and gifts.
Shopping for J. Hoffman’s, Wicks invested in off-the-shoulder tops and colorful embroidered dresses by Ruby YaYa, an Australian line that was new to the market, as well as Aratta’s mixed-print dresses and tops and soft T-shirts by Z Supply.
“It’s not evening dresses like we used to do,” Wicks said. “I’m buying a lot more casual. People still want good quality, but they want a better price.”
Christy Mesec, owner of Christy M. Boutique in Dallas’ affluent University Park, focused on tops followed by dresses and denim. She keeps most retail prices between $60 and $250.
“We carry easy-breezy clothes,” Mesec said. “We try to buy seasonless. Business has been great up until the summer heat wave.”
Mesec filled in her fall inventory with staples Nally & Millie tops and jackets by Ciao Milano.
“I don’t even bring sweaters in until October,” Mesec noted. “It’s 100 degrees through September.”
In other news at the DMC, Donald Reeves doubled the size of D. Reeves & Co. showroom by moving into the space formerly held by Ritz Group.
“The big-picture economic numbers for Texas and for Dallas remain the strongest in the country, but we know that retail is challenging, especially in cities tied to the energy sector,” said DMC president and chief executive officer Cindy Morris. “As we look forward to future shows, we are firmly committed to showcasing new lines that give buyers the best advantage, offering lower travel costs and to setting reliable market dates. That’s why we recently announced Dallas dates through 2019.”