DALLAS — Details, embellishment and lush textiles captured retailers’ interest at the fall market here.
The show ran at the Dallas Market Center, overlapping a home and gift market. Fashion Industry Gallery, the nearby venue featuring contemporary merchandise, ran on several of the same days as well.
Vendors and sales agents reported that a number of retailers came a day before the shows actually opened, continuing a trend in which market business is front loaded and tapers out near the weekend.
Specialty retailers kept budgets tight, citing flagging traffic, low oil and gas prices and, more recently, a drop in Mexican business due to a decrease in the peso’s exchange rate and antagonism for President Trump.
“Things are very black and white,” observed longtime accessories agent Julie Hall. “Lines that do well are doing very well, and it’s the same with stores. There is that divide.”
Nonetheless, buyers sought fresh fall styles and some immediate deliveries. Tops continued to be in high demand, particularly those featuring embellishment, graphics or sleeves tricked up with ruffles or ties.
“Overall, what everyone is looking for is tops that are different,” said Charli Light, owner of Charli in College Station, Tex. “I’m buying bigger sizes, and I hear that from other stores, too.”
Other hot items included bomber jackets and leggings in novelty textiles such as variegated fake suede or metallic silver, gold and bronze. Velvet, fur and fake suede were important, and demand continued for high-waist denim jeans in a variety of washes and ath-leisure sportswear.
Buyers were hungry for information. Overflow crowds stood for the fall trend report by New York buying office principal Gregor Simmons and at a social media lesson by consultants Linley + Lauren, noted Amy Huchtons Harper, director of marketing at the DMC.
“Retailers face stronger competition than ever, and to help them we added more contemporary lines, more fashion accessories resources and trend presentations to inspire,” said DMC president and chief executive officer Cindy Morris.
Light scouted for fall goods from key resources, citing Trina Turk’s gray cape-back sweater paired with a black-and-white check cigarette pan, Lola & Sophie’s gray knit jacket, and Alberto Makali’s Ultrasuede leggings.
“Business is stable but not growing,” Light said. “When we get them in [to the store] it’s OK.”
Business has been tough on the border because affluent Mexican shoppers are visiting less frequently, said Lisa Miller, buyer for Polly Adams in Laredo, Tex.
“I’m weeding out so-so lines and buying proven stuff that does really well,” Miller said. “And I’m definitely buying closer to season. It’s a lot easier to chase the merchandise than to get stuck with it.”
She invested in pendant pearl necklaces by Chan Luu, J. Brand jeans, Lilla P. T-shirts and sweaters and novelty tops by Fifteen Twenty. The store regularly dispatches boxes of merchandise to customers.
“The new customer doesn’t want to leave their house,” Miller said. “[Millennials] want tiny houses and they don’t want fine china or silver. It’s really different.”
Sales to Mexicans are also down at Tres Mariposas in El Paso, Tex., where they typically account for 30 percent of sales, said owner Nan Napier. “When our staff contacts them, a lot say both [President] Trump and the peso is affecting them,” she said.
She and buyer Bobbi Baldridge praised the quality and look of fur-trimmed outerwear by Diomi, including a blush double-faced cashmere capelet coat and a nylon vest.
Krista Ward, who buys jewelry and handbags for Julian Gold’s four stores in Texas, shopped for immediate and fall goods.
“I’m looking for trends,” said Ward. “We’re selling chunky, big jewelry and having trouble with delicate. MCL’s oxidized silver, enamel and colored sapphire has some of the most beautiful enamel work I’ve ever seen.”
Kathi Cryderman, owner of 41-year-old Harem & Co. in Springfield, Mo., prioritized accessories and tops as she shopped her key resources, including French Candy necklaces with pendant replicas of old French medallions, Tat2’s jewelry featuring copies of vintage coins, and layering tops from Lola & Sophie.
“My budget is slightly up,” said Cryderman, crediting solid business to her longtime sales staff and intensive community outreach.
Athletic and yoga apparel does consistent business at Studio6 Fitness, which operates two Pilates studios with adjoining apparel boutiques in Dallas and is opening a third in neighboring Plano while scouting for a fourth site in Dallas, noted buyer Ingrid Kopf.
“The fitness industry is doing well,” Kopf said. “People don’t want to give up their workout.”
She reviewed yogawear by Alo and Rese, soft knitwear by Hard Tail, and T-shirts with positive slogans and graphics by Good Hyouman, Spiritual Gangster, Chase and Emi Jay. Her budget was flat for the existing stores.
Felicia Jacobs, buyer for the boutique at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Tex., said she was more focused on yoga and ath-leisure togs than ever. Her budget has remained even, however, because she diverted money into gifts. “Exercise wear and yogawear are really strong,” said Jacobs, whose bestseller is Alo. “It’s such a great category because it’s season-less so you don’t get killed with inventory.”
Lola & Sophie owner Gene Kagan was the featured designer at Fashion Industry Gallery.
He felt traffic was slow, but picked up a few new accounts and made his sales goal. Bestsellers included an Ultrasuede group in bronze or black plus a soft tuxedo blouse with a knit back and sleeves.
“The stores that are doing well are providing an experience,” Kagan observed, noting he holds 10 to 15 trunks shows each season. “It’s a cocktail hour, it’s a therapy session.”