DALLAS — Things are looking up at Dallas Market Center and Fashion Industry Gallery, Dallas’ two wholesale fashion venues.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


 

Encouraged by a strengthening local economy and increased attendance of both buyers and exhibitors, they are taking steps to improve their offerings and business.

 

Dallas was the only one of 12 districts nationwide that reported accelerated economic growth from April 5 through May 27, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book issued June 8. The Dallas District comprises all of Texas and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana.

“Our trading area has not experienced the recession that the Southeast and West have had,” said Bill Winsor, president and chief executive officer of the DMC. “With an oil-based economy and the price of a barrel where it’s at, we’re feeling the positive effects of that.”

An Italian Fashion Expo during the spring market Oct. 27 to 30 highlights the DMC’s second half. Coordinated with the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, the event will showcase men’s and women’s fashion and accessories from across Italy.

“There will be multiple fashion shows throughout the event and also Italian food and wine,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer. “Usually the chamber does consumer events, and this is the first time they will have designers at a wholesale market.”

The Expo will be held on the sixth floor of the World Trade Center, a 15-story atrium tower that houses FashionCenterDallas on levels 7, 8 and 12 through 15 with fine jewelry, gifts and home furnishings showrooms on other floors.

Buyer attendance at the DMC has risen at every apparel market compared with the prior year and is consistently up 8 percent over figures from 2008, Morris said. While it draws retailers from across the country and south of the border, the DMC’s bedrock clientele hails from its traditional territory of Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

The company is working social media to connect with retailers, posting trend photos on its Facebook page and dispatching updates to 2,400 Twitter followers.

The venue has seen the biggest exhibitor growth in contemporary, young contemporary, bridal, prom, shoes and Western wear.

At market Aug. 11 to 14, the Strut shoe show will have 22  booths, double the June market, while prom exhibitors will expand by 20 percent, Morris noted. The Men’s Show anticipates 40 temporary booths Aug. 13 to 15, a 15 percent gain. The Scene juried contemporary women’s show is consistently full, and 30 percent of the exhibitors typically go into permanent showrooms after each market, Morris added.

“We’re very pleased with the growth we’ve seen,” Morris said. “Continuing to have cost-effective travel has been a great help, as well.”

Matt Roth, an owner and ceo of Fashion Industry Gallery, is also feeling optimistic. Focused on contemporary and bridge resources, FIG occupies one and a half floors of Southwest Plaza, a five-story office building downtown.

All but one of FIG’s permanent galleries is leased, and buyer attendance rose 33 percent in June. Companies that recently inked leases include Sanctuary, Splendid, Ella Moss and Los Angeles showrooms It’s All About the Girls and Sparkling or Flat.

“The vibe is a lot better,” Roth said. “It’s not doom and gloom like it was two years ago when people didn’t know what was going to shake out. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to pre- ’08, but if we can get close it’s still a good business.”

FIG is adding functionality to its Web site, such as enabling exhibitors to upload photos. The company also hired intern Katie Richter to work on retail development including visiting stores.

Roth noted that FIG is extending its second-floor lease through 2016 to match its first-floor agreement.

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