DALLAS — Buyers at markets here invested in novelty treatments of ongoing silhouettes, such as hip-length tops, blouses, colorful sweaters, breezy cocktail dresses and jumpsuits.
Unusually cold and rainy weather put a damper on retail sales in the first quarter, but business has ticked up with the warmer and sunnier weather in April, according to retailers and sales representatives at the shows late last month at the Dallas Market Center and Fashion Industry Gallery.
Buyers focused on fall clothing as well as spring handbags and jewelry for quick delivery.
They responded to details including grommets, contrasting trims, athletic stripes, fringe and embroidery. There was strength in animal, camouflage and other distinctive prints, real and fake fur, and unexpected color combinations, such as burgundy with orange.
Retailers had mixed feelings about the ubiquity of ocher and mustard hues, noting that they don’t flatter many skin tones. Some said they were buying it minimally to represent it as the fashion color or only in bottoms, such as wide-leg cropped pants.
Jumpsuits were so prevalent that Mercedes Gonzalez, director of Global Purchasing Cos. in New York, advised her clients to buy them even though she feels they can be a difficult fit. She also advised stores to translate the style into matching tops and bottoms.
Gonzalez also recommended wide-leg pants, shorter kimonos, eveningwear with Twenties and Thirties influences, updated cross-body bags and waist packs and “anything” with studs, metal accents and fringe.
“I feel there’s a big push toward washable fabrics, even in contemporary,” she observed. “I think Millennials look at it as more ‘green’ if you can wash and dry it.”
Angela Cooper, buyer and owner, and manager Pamela Cott shopped for The Coop, a lifestyle shop at the Cooper Institute, a health research and fitness center in Dallas.
Among their finds were Metric fake-fur bomber jackets, Luana Italy indigo leather mini bags and zebra-striped cross bodies, and boiler-style jumpsuits, velvet T-shirts and joggers by Bella Dahl.
Michele Barrett increased her budget by 20 percent as she looked for new labels and artisan jewelry for Studio Blu, her seven-year-old boutique in Mobile, Ala. She picked up about eight new resources between FIG and the DMC, including earrings by Accessory Concierge and multipendant necklaces by Cheryl Dufault.
Business has grown every year at Harper House Boutique, a shop that Faith Harper added six years ago to her medical aesthetics practice in Shreveport, La. Nonetheless, she kept her budget flat because holiday and early spring business were soft.
“On a cloudy day people just cocoon,” she said. “Now we’re having sun, and I expect we’ll see a change of business flow ahead.”
She perused Jaket leather items, investing in a dark forest green shirt jacket dotted with grommets and a cropped moto jacket in metallic merlot.
The Dallas Market Center hailed the U.S. return of Custo Barcelona by spotlighting its flamboyant coats in the trend runway show. It also celebrated Pat Dahnke in the western runway show for her 50th anniversary in women’s fashion.
“We’re doing some serious fringe this year,” said Dahnke, who manufactures upscale western and Victorian-influenced styles on her ranch in Waller, Tex.
DMC president and chief executive officer Cindy Morris said the venue recorded an 18 percent increase in retailers that hadn’t previously shopped there and attendance gains from the central U.S., the Southeast and other nations.
“We welcomed a broader set of buyers including apparel and accessories stores, gift boutiques, western retailers, bridal and children’s stores,” she said.
Multiline representative Brad Hughes said he expects to post an increase in bookings, citing outstanding results with Lafayette 148 sportswear, Spanx leggings and printed silk tops by Natori and Sofia.
“Anything above the waist was driving the train,” Hughes pointed out. “We’re selling 10 or 20 tops to one bottom, and that’s the way we all buy at retail.”
Brand Assembly displayed 40 resources next to the Scene Show on the 13th floor of the World Trade Center at the DMC.
“We’re at a more elevated price point, but we’ve seen a really solid group of stores like Forty Five Ten, E. Leigh’s, Gus Meyer,” said Adam Eisenhut, vice president of shows and community. “The stores are still looking at new brands, and we’re not seeing a decline or hardship.”
“It seems like the specialty store is alive and well here,” echoed Michael Keefer, a principal in River + Sky, which produces sportswear and loungewear in soft, sustainable fabrics in Los Angeles. “We see so many family-owned businesses that are passed on generation to generation, and we don’t see that in other territories.”