In addition to retailers specializing in the sector, the market is attracting attention from buyers hunting for well-priced items with mother-daughter appeal.
“The better stores in our territory are telling us they want lower-price brands, and that’s new,” said David Rhea, who represents Articles of Society, R D International Style Co. and other labels at his Indigo Agency showroom.
Boho style continued to dominate the contemporary arena, as buyers responded to peasant and lace-up tops, cropped flare jeans, tasseled jewelry, fringe and tie-dye, ombré and mottled textiles in tops, dresses and scarves.
“It’s all gypsy, boho graphic,” said Marty Leon, sales agent for Vintage Havana, Ocean Drive and other young contemporary resources at Leon & Associates. “It’s become a lifestyle.”
Given election jitters and oil woes, Leon was pleased that 2016 bookings have been matching last year.
Still, there were pockets of growth. Describing his partnership in Askari breezy printed tops and dresses, Rhea said, “I could grow our business faster if I had more sewing capacity. Our business is ramping up.”
Retail partners Belva Deramus and Vesti Medford were also having a good year.
“Our business is fantastic,” Deramus said as they reviewed Spirit wear for Red Leopard Boutique in Fort Smith, Ark., which is near the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville. “We’re up 25 percent.”
Emphasizing service, they generally keep prices under $150, though bejeweled Scandalicious flip-flops retailing around $300 are bestsellers. They were enthusiastic about a two-tone black and gray wool-blend Hazel coat with a fake-fur collar that wholesaled for $49.
Across the show, details such as tiered ruffles, asymmetry and rounded hemlines were important. Tailored denim shirts and dresses made a comeback, along with quilted jackets in shiny fabrics.
Clean, body-conscious dresses performed well at Brad Hughes & Associates.
“Black Halo continues to be our best reorder collection,” Hughes said. “And Alberto Makali evening…just introduced a new collection of clean, solid fabrics with fabulous sleeve interest.”
Proprietor Cheryl McDonald was keen on softly styled, washable Italian sportswear by Scandal and Allegro for Julep Co. in Plano, Tex.
“My customers want natural fibers and elevated style that can also go on the road,” she said, pointing out Scandal’s gunmetal dress with a knit top and a tiered silk skirt that wholesaled for $48.
Judy Jones Rotzoll ordered tobacco, black and gray slim straight pants by Estelle and Finn for Keeping Up with the Joneses, which she co-owns in Fort Worth.
“They are the best-fitting pants on the planet,” she enthused. “We have a cult following.”
Describing the boutique’s style as “preppie,” Rotzoll also invested in “bright and colorful” looks by Gretchen Scott and Jude Connally, and glittering jewelry by longtime Dallas designer Lorren Bell.
“Lorren Bell is made in Dallas, which is important to us,” she added.
Sheila and Cal Boudreaux shopped for jewelry, scarves and bags for House of Fashion, which they have owned for 30 years in Thibodaux, La.
Keeping their budget the same as last year, they picked up elaborate gold-plated necklaces and earrings from Gypsy; iridescent, rough-cut mineral necklaces by Hazen, and tasseled leather jewelry by Touch of Style.
“We are cautious — you have to be,” Cal Boudreaux said.
Traffic was light, which sales representatives attributed to some retailers electing to shop the following week, when the show at nearby Fashion Industry Gallery was scheduled. DMC and FIG shows normally coincide, but FIG displays many California resources, so it delayed a week in order to avoid overlapping the Los Angeles market.
“Half of my stores are coming this week, and half next week,” said Allyson Cooke, owner of Launch contemporary showroom.
Many sales representatives also expected to do business during the DMC’s Total Home and Gift Show June 22 to 28.