DALLAS – Reports of brisk fall sales at retail translated into solid business at the spring market in Dallas.
Still, buyers were hardly spendthrifts. Most said their budgets were flat or down, and they were buying judiciously with an eye on sell-throughs and profits.
Novelty fashions continued to dominate, with an emphasis on embroidery, petal and pearl embellishments, lively prints and color. The palette ran the gamut from neon brights to matte and earthy pastels. Jumpsuits, high-waist bottoms, gauchos and shorter tops were among the hot items.
“Everyone wants lighter weights,” noted Barbara Bell, whose business represents Saint James of France and other misses resources. “With global warming, spring has become very important.”
Joe Brand, the 83-year-old upscale department store in the border city of Laredo, Tex., downsized last summer from its longtime 30,000-square-foot home in Mall Del Norte to a 10,000-square-foot freestanding building in an affluent zip code.
“We’ve already noticed an increase in efficiency and in sales per square foot,” said co-owner Lisa Deutsch. “I think we’ll be able to pay more attention to customers and still generate the same volume in certain areas — definitely designer handbags, shoes, accessories and some bridge.”
She and contemporary buyer Miriam Guajardo invested in Lafayette 148 — a staple — and trendy sportswear and dresses plus dark high-waist denim by Joe’s Jeans, Hudson Jeans, Paige, DL1961 and 7 for All Mankind.
“The economy is pretty good,” Deutsch observed. “Oil and gas have stabilized and there’s more stability in Mexico, which dramatically affects our market. People are dining and going out.”
You Are Here co-owners Joanna Bennett and Anne Walker Miller sought “easy, wearable for Texas heat” casual sportswear and denim by AG Adriano Goldschmied and Citizens of Humanity.
“Business is great,” Bennett said. “We’re buying smarter and more streamlined to close the gap between full-price and sale selling.”
Trunk shows are helping business at Temptations for Her boutiques in Oceanside and Merrick, N.Y., said owners Randi and Jeff Grann.
“Everything is more casual,” Randi Grann observed. “Jeans are fading out in favor of ath-leisure and track pants that they wear out with a wedge [shoe].”
The Granns picked up Lola & Sophie tops, shirts and knitwear by Frank & Eileen, Jakett’s linen and whipstitched leather jacket and J. Brand high-rise cropped flares with exposed buttons.
Brie Washington focused on holiday fill-ins, handbags and jewelry as she had already ordered spring goods for her store, Briesley’s in Flower Mound, Tex.
“It was a slow summer, but it’s getting back on track,” she observed. “My budget is up.”
Washington selected about two dozen styles from Dallas jewelry designer Holly Zaves, including cheetah acetate bangles, leather leaf earrings, fan tassel earrings, matte black onyx necklaces and a one-of-a-kind vintage Louis Vuitton padlock on a brass chain.
“Her pieces sell pretty quickly,” Washington said. “It’s Texas-y, but with flair.”
Washington also shopped for YFB Clothing, Ark & Co. contemporary sportswear and Inzi fashion handbags.
Contemporary, jewelry and lingerie buyer Becky Wells Alvarez sought Fiesta attire for Julian Gold. The Texas chain is based in San Antonio, where Fiesta is a 10-day April jubilee of parties, parades, carnivals and concerts.
“It’s all printed tops in bright colors and florals,” she said. “Yellow is the color for Fiesta, so all the yellow is in our favor.”
She pared her budget slightly to reduce markdowns but said business overall was good.
“The cold weather kicked it off and multiple events — trunk shows and stock shows,” Alvarez noted.
Cindy Morris, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Market Center, said a number of new retailers from across the U.S. shopped the show, which included Brand Assembly exhibitors and Shine, a new showcase of beauty and wellness products.
“Strong order writing was reported by exhibitors as consumer confidence remains at record levels,” Morris said.
The DMC is gearing up for the Western & English Sales Association to move from its longtime home at the Denver Mart into permanent showrooms at the DMC. The first Dallas WESA show will be in January 2021.
The DMC already has a cluster of Western exhibitors on the 14th floor of the World Trade Center, and it plans to devote the entire floor to English and Western apparel, accessories, tack, equipment and horse paraphernalia. Current exhibitors on 14, which houses mostly misses and bridal resources, are making plans to move to other floors.
The move will offer opportunity for vendors and buyers, Morris said.
“This will be the largest collection of Western lifestyle brands in the U.S.,” she said. “WESA attracts thousands of buyers representing small and large retail stores across the country. Their core motivation is sourcing Western apparel, accessories and tack, but they are keenly interested in other categories like workwear, safety wear and camping.”