The Dallas Market Center’s fall show, which ran March 24 to 27, registered an significant increase in buyers and vendors, including New York sales agents Barbara Clark Showroom and 212 Showroom.
“We saw the largest attendance increase [year-to-year] since FashionCenterDallas opened in 2004,” said Cindy Morris, DMC chief operating officer.
Morris said this is proof of “the continuing economic strength of mid-America.”
The curated temporary Scene show more than doubled to 165 vendors, while Temporaries on 12, which features young contemporary and other goods, added 93 vendors, organizers noted.
“Overall it was a good show,” said Paul Sutton, partner in Lori Veith Sales multiline showroom. “I think we’ll end up having an increase when all the orders come back.”
Business is improving, retailers said, but they generally kept budgets flat and stuck to recession strategies of selecting special, narrowly distributed goods and reserving money to pick up hot items in season.
“I have to be very careful with what I buy, but I still have to have something new,” said Susan Graf, whose namesake store caters to the affluent residents and visitors in Healdsburg, Calif., the heart of Sonoma wine country. “I do elegant sportswear and novelty items,” added Graf, as she wrote an order for L.A.M.B.’s leather and plaid wool jacket.
Leery of crimping the retail recovery, many vendors held prices despite rising costs of materials and labor.
“It’s kind of like death if they are going to start raising prices on people, especially the way the coasts’ economies are,” said Andy Acers, whose namesake showrooms had an “excellent” market with XCVI, Esprit and Marc Aurel. “Marc Aurel has come down in price probably 10 to 15 percent since last fall. They’ve seen the light.”
St. Thomas, an Austin special occasion store, is opening a second location in May plus a foundations and alterations shop called Stitch in the affluent Westlake suburb.
“Our clients are slowly coming back and spending a little more on luxury,” said Riley Estebes de Silva, co-owner of St. Thomas at The Domain in Austin, Tex. “You see people feeling a little more confident.”
The key is versatility, said Carol Turner, who the 27-year-old Turner Collection store plus her namesake sportswear company in San Angelo, Tex.
“If they can walk in and find a piece that they can wear to the rodeo and to the symphony by changing shoes or boots and pants, you’ve got them,” she said. “Johnny Was does that. And we sell Art of Cloth, which does the most beautiful hand-dyed fabrics, to the piece. Anyone can put it on.”