DALLAS — Five designers flew in from New York and Los Angeles to help celebrate Fashion Industry Gallery’s 10th anniversary at the three-day spring market that ended Oct. 24.
Amanda Uprichard, Whitney Port, Cammy Herbert of Show Me Your Mumu, Single designer Galina Sobolev and Michael Stars’ co-owner Suzanne Lerner visited with buyers at a cocktail party Oct. 23 in the park at the FIG building in Dallas’ Arts District. They have all previously visited FIG as featured vendors.
“Dallas is definitely one of our best markets,” said Cammy Herbert. “This is where the people are.”
Show Me Your Mumu, a line of U.S.-made sportswear in playful prints and silhouettes, sold lots of rompers and causal tops at the show, she said.
“The retailers are using Instagram and social media to interact with their customers more,” Herbert said. “Those skills are crucial to business if you have a younger customer.”
FIG attracts upscale specialty retailers, some of whom said this year’s unseasonal weather patterns have hurt business. Sales were below plan during the warm September, they said, but business improved in October.
“People are very buy-now, wear-now,” said Hillary Dutcher, owner of Ivy Hill contemporary boutique in affluent Ladue, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City. “They are extremely conservative about where they spend their money. I’m looking for things that are different and special that people can’t find online.”
She trimmed her budget 10 percent because last spring’s frigid weather left her with too much inventory, picking up styles by Lauren Moffat and Corey Lynn Calter.
Lis Montgomery, who opened Papillon boutique 36 years ago in Bellevue, Wash., kept her budget even with last year as she picked up Zzan jewelry and bomber jackets.
“The stock market is good, but business is just so-so,” she observed. “The population of the Pacific Northwest is still more careful.”
Galina Sobolov did well with printed dresses, rompers, cocoon tops, shorts sets and kimono dresses by Single and her lower-priced label Kaya di Koko.
“We had six cancellations because of the Ebola scare,” the designer lamented. “I think that has affected travel to the region. The girls will catch up with them on the road. It’s just more work.”
Mila Hermanovski showed at FIG for the first time, exhibiting her namesake collection in Cheryl Dufault’s showroom. Hermanovski, a two-time “Project Runway” alum who grew up in Dallas, is known for hip black leggings demarcated with contrasting textiles and leather.
“I’m picking up more accounts and got a lot of interest from Austin,” said Hermanovski, who is based in New York. “I’m at the point where I need representation to get to the next level.”
Denise Jolley, owner of D’Mademoiselle boutique in Laredo, Tex., selected more than a dozen Hermanovski looks for spring delivery, including a black crinkle jumpsuit.
“I have a big following in Mexico City and Monterrey, and they have fallen in love with her collection,” Jolley said. “Her leggings are so comfortable. I’m doubling my buy with Mila.”
Michael Stars has metamorphosed from a T-shirt line into contemporary men’s and women’s sportswear collections over the past two years, explained Suzanne Lerner.
“The market changed and there is a limited amount of basic tee business out there,” Lerner explained. “People want something special.”
Michael Stars’ spring collection hit the major trends, with athletic looks, rompers, culottes, structured tops, shift dresses, full-leg pants, kimonos, polo tops and shirts in mesh, plissé, and modal and Supima cotton knits.
The label is sold by 900 specialty stores, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, Zappos and 12 branded stores, said Lerner, who also operates Lerner et Cie showroom.
“Our e-commerce business is up 30 percent and the specialty store business is holding,” she noted. “Nothing is incredible right now. For specialty stores it’s been a tough year. It’s 98 degrees in L.A. today. That has impacted our business.”
FIG director Emma Greathouse said that buyer and exhibitor attendance hit all-time highs. The venue specializes in contemporary fashion and accessories.
“Several exhibitors were new to FIG including Agent Icon Showroom, Koral Los Angeles, Bloom L.A. Showroom, Junkyard Showroom, Tom Ford Eyewear and many more,” she said.