DALLAS — Retailers at the holiday and resort show at FashionCenterDallas had mixed feelings about business activity, with some anxious about spotty traffic and others pleased with gains of as much as 20 percent and buying budgets to match.
One thing was certain — the name of the game was glitz and glamour. Buyers bought into dresses and sportswear lines trimmed with touches of beads, sequins, shimmering fabrics and rhinestones.
“Flash sells in Texas,” said Bob Bowden, owner of Bowden’s, a specialty store in Paris, Tex.
Though buyers have been shopping closer to need, orders were written for almost all seasons, from immediate fall goods to holiday, resort and spring. Among the hot items were dresses accented by glittering brooches and beading, denim jackets and jeans with sparkle and embroidery, embroidered tunics, colorful charmeuse gowns, ponchos and wraps with fur trim. Lime, orange, turquoise and pink topped the spring palette.
“Last August was the best August we had ever had and we beat it by about 20 percent this year,” said Brad Ritz, who represents contemporary and bridge lines at his firm, Ritz Group.
The Dallas Market Center, which opened FashionCenterDallas in March to succeed the International Apparel Mart, reported a 20 percent increase in attendance for the latest edition that ended Aug. 23.
“It’s been a great year,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the center. “We have created a new marketplace that continues to attract buyers from inside and outside this region of the country.”
Rhonda McCartt, sales manager for Laundry, was among those who were bullish. “We had 30 percent more customers than last year,’’ she said. “We did well with everything to wear with jeans, like beaded chiffon tunics and tops with smocking.”
Barbara Varnhagen, national sales manager for A.B.S. divisions Allen B. and A-Denim, a premium denim line introduced at the show, said: “I think we did better than last year. They were looking for the right items and buying closer to their needs, and they liked all the embellishment. Right now it’s rhinestones, and as we move on it will be more bohemian looks for spring.”
In accessories, buyers went for gold jewelry, vintage-style brooches, bags decorated with hardware, linear earrings and 60-inch beaded necklaces.
“Our customers are positive,” Bowden said. “Everyone is talking politics and usually that cools things down, but we’ve had a lot of events, fashion shows and fund-raisers, and that has stirred things up.”
Bowden raised his budget 20 percent for holiday sportswear and accessories. In his search for novelty, Bowden found two new lines: Tano leather handbags embellished with snaps and buckles and Ann Trinity casual sportswear in orange and lime with a bit of appliqué and beading. He also bought Obtine’s appliquéd mesh blouses.
“Everybody in the world is showing orange and lime, and I’m kind of glad because color sells in east Texas,” Bowden said.
It also sells in Louisiana, said Ricki O’Brien, owner of Ricki’s in New Iberia, La.
“Women in south Louisiana like those bright colors,” she said. “I love pink and I think it will be in for another couple of years. I also ordered lime and turquoise.”
Color has helped boost business this year, leading to a 5 to 10 percent budget increase for next spring. O’Brien ordered Bentley A.’s sheer aqua georgette poncho that can also be worn as a strapless top, Karen Kane’s pastel pink and lime bouclé suit and Muse’s halter tops with skirts. She also booked Cabo’s fur-trimmed sweaters and Mary France’s embellished handbags.
The revival of the bohemian tunic dressed up with trim, beading and embroidery was popular with trendy retailers.
Donna Thomas, owner of Avant contemporary store in Dallas, found her favorite tunics at Haley Bob, which did shimmering styles, as well as a peacock-feather print on velvet with beading for holiday. Victoria Jackson, owner of Byzantine, a contemporary boutique in Dallas, was taken by Pamela Brown’s white and green bouclé suit with lace insets, Robin Jordan’s pink silk taffeta and tulle skirt with a black velvet bow, Mica’s flapper dress with a side-swept bow and Mary Kate’s jeweled brooches.
Hanna Taghi, owner of A. Taghi in Houston, came to scout M Missoni, Escada Sport and Zanella for her upscale store. Shopping FashionCenterDallas for the first time, Taghi said, “I found Anti-Flirt for spring, which had great hip casual shirts, and I’ve seen a couple of purses.”