Buyers scouted last week’s show at the Dallas Market Center for item tops, lifestyle knitwear, colorful ponchos, bohemian prints, distinctive jewelry and dresses in lavish fabrics.
They reviewed primarily fall fashions, but many planned to order closer to delivery at the four-day fashion and accessories show that ended Saturday.
Retailers in Houston, Oklahoma City and other energy-centric areas in this territory are feeling the effects of the oil bust with its extensive layoffs and diminished oil-lease royalty payments.
A year ago it was business as usual for Callie Saitowitz, owner of BB1 Classic in Houston. “It turned suddenly,” she said. “We’re not [reordering] and we’re buying cautiously.”
Gregor Simmons, who runs a namesake New York buying office, said, “They’re cutting back. They’re buying key items and definitely not buying designer and waiting longer to leave paper.”
Quick turnaround domestic manufacturing would help, she continued.
“It would be better for everyone if we would go back to a three-month window where you’re not buying stuff in February for delivery in September,” Simmons said.
“We don’t know what to budget for fall,” said Tootsies dress buyer John Maguire, noting business was strong in March but “dead” in January and February. “The whole Houston economy is slow. We’re all affected, but we’re still doing good business, so there are still people making money.”
Jeff Johnson, owner of Nella in Oxford, Miss., said his sales are up so far this year, aided by pleasant March weather and increasing enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
“The dress business is still really good,” he said. “I’m definitely increasing my budget by 5 percent for denim, dresses and tops, and I’d like to take accessories higher.”
Yvonne and Cliff Katsamakis shopped for their three stores: Embrys in Lexington, Ky., Koslow’s fur and designer shop in Oklahoma City and a fur boutique they’re opening next month in Tulsa. The couple operated a leased fur department for decades inside Miss Jackson’s in Tulsa until the upscale specialty store closed in December.
“They didn’t change with the times,” Cliff Katsamakis said.
The couple was looking for sheared mink furs and items from key resources including Dolce Cabo, Conrad C and Joseph Ribkoff. Their stores had a “decent year” by buying in-depth and discounting in partnership with vendors.
“Our customer in Kentucky is very conservative,” he noted. “We tried to introduce edgier things and she doesn’t want it. Inverted pleats were hard to sell.”
American flag intarsia knit ponchos and fringed and feathered suede vests were bestsellers for Pat Dahnke, whose novelty designs were picked up by Western retailers, as well as gift buyers shopping the coincidental Total Home & Gift show.
“Most of my people buy immediate [deliveries] rather than way out,”said Dahnke, noting that her business is running about even with last year.
“Overall, it was a show with cautious buyers but steady order-writing reported by many exhibitors, especially in showrooms with more contemporary looks, distinctive accessories or the unexpected,” said DMC president and chief executive officer Cindy Morris.