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DALLAS — Kimono toppers, shorts, embellished tops and colorful dresses were among the leading spring styles at the four-day market that ended Saturday at the Dallas Market Center.

Buyers also responded to mixed fabrics, mesh, georgette and prints, including classic florals and bright combinations of white with azure or royal blue. In accessories, sparkling and tassel-pendent holiday necklaces were strong.

Some retailers at the market reported a difficult year due to a cold spring followed by an unusually warm fall and relentless Internet competition. Others said business was brisk and hiked budgets 15 to 20 percent.

Several retailers skipped the show due to fear of the Ebola virus, according to sales representatives. Three people have been diagnosed with the deadly disease since Sept. 28 in Dallas, including the only U.S. fatality.

Reps and vendors who met or exceeded last year’s bookings attributed it to strong merchandise and intensive pre-show marketing and phone campaigns.

“We missed a few important people, but our main goal is to beat the market last year and we did it plus some,” said Marty Leon, co-owner of Leon & Associates showroom. “We have product that is retailing extremely well — Vintage Havana, Ocean Drive, Surf Gypsy, Velvet Heart, Dex Clothing and Veronica M are on fire.”

Brad Hughes, who shows about 50 upscale labels, said his sales were about even with last year. His bestsellers included tailored shirts, item tops and voluminous evening skirts.

“Slow and steady wins the race these days,” Hughes said. “We had a lot of new people from all over the U.S., some for the first time. They like it because we have a lot of product that is not shown elsewhere, other than New York. They are looking for things that are different. If a retailer wants to be there in the future, they have to work really hard not to look like everybody else.”

Sales representative Susanne Taylor said she had a strong market with yoga and lifestyle togs in Scene, the juried temporary show. She attributed her success to strong relationships with buyers, lots of marketing and a growing product niche.

“I think stores are spending less time at market,” said Taylor, who has decades of wholesale experience in Dallas. “If you don’t have the relationship with them, you are left without seeing them.”

Blu Ice did well in its first Dallas market appearance in 18 months at Moxiefashions showroom, according to owner Robert Knyper. He has retooled the line from a collection to items, such as perforated leather shawls.
“Traffic is off, but we did an eight out of 10 in business and I’ll be back,” Knyper said.

Mindy and Jorge Diaz, owners of Design in the City in Kansas City, Mo., said September sales were sluggish due to unseasonably warm weather, but October picked up. Having transitioned their home store into fashion, they planned their budget up about 20 percent as they shopped for immediate and spring deliveries.

Lisa Ragsdale, buyer for Her Toggery in Monroe, La., attributed exceptional business in September to trunk shows of Lafayette 148 sportswear and Gypsy jewelry. Monroe’s population is growing with the expansion of CenturyLink, a Fortune 500 telecommunications company based there, she noted.

“Every month we have a trunk show and sometimes we combine them, so that drives our inventory out,” Ragsdale explained. As she selected Finley’s blue and white peasant top and white shirts, Ragsdale said her spring buy was up at least 15 percent.

“I’m seeing a lot of beautiful florals and watercolor florals,” she said. “Kimonos are everywhere.”

Patty Feinstein, owner of two Cotton Island stores in Dallas, shopped for styles that appealed to women in their twenties through sixties.

“After 30 years, we have three generations coming,” Feinstein said as she selected crystal cross huggie earrings by BeJé Designs.

Business slowed a bit this year, so she’s experimenting with selling via Facebook and Instagram. She cut her budget a little to reserve funds for emerging trends.

“We had a significant amount of buyers from mid-America and the Southeast in addition to our [traditional four-state] region,” said Cindy Morris, DMC chief operating officer. “Hundreds of attendees gathered at the runway show to find inspiration in spring 2015 trends from The Doneger Group, as well as the fashion show.”

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