DALLAS — Retailers focused on novelty items, investment pieces, prints and color last week as they cherry-picked the thousands of labels on display at the Dallas Market Center and Fashion Industry Gallery.
The persistence of hot, humid weather in September and October has negatively impacted retail sales, so most buyers kept their budgets flat.
“The retail environment is difficult right now and has been for six months,” observed Ed Vierling, chief executive officer of sportswear firm Sharon Young Inc. “The specialty stores don’t seem to be complaining as much as the major stores. They come into the showrooms with enthusiasm.”
For the first time, the DMC market ran from Tuesday through Friday instead of Wednesday to Saturday.
FIG followed the DMC’s lead, ending its three-day trade show on Thursday. As usual, a number of showrooms saw buyers by appointment on the day before the shows officially opened.
One of the newest trends was the appearance of skirts in various lengths across sportswear and denim lines, but several seasoned buyers reported that they were only dabbling in them.
“I still think customers prefer dresses for the most part,” observed Shannon Moore, contemporary buyer for Stanley Korshak. “They’re easier. You don’t have to figure out a top.”
Korshak’s business has been running slightly ahead since June, driven by efforts to attract new customers both in store and online, said owner Crawford Brock.
“The three biggies are men’s, the Shak contemporary and jewelry,” Brock said. “Handbags are OK, not as strong.”
Elements in Dallas has endured a challenging year due to personnel changes and a chunk of spring merchandise that skewed too young, but October sales are up, said owner Connie Sigel.
“I’m buying real wearable investment pieces, not stuff that is trendy,” Sigel said. “I’m going with things that are not so printed, not so embellished. I feel that with big prints and patterns you wear it to a party and that’s it.”
Among her favorites were Moussy ice blue full-leg jeans, Smythe tailored jackets, Never a Wallflower item tops and Noon by Noor’s white lace dress dotted with sequins.
Fall business has been a roller coaster at Charli in College Station, Tex., and owner Charli Light was being conservative with spring orders and reserving money for immediate deliveries.
“It was 100 degrees on Sept. 26, and you didn’t have that need inside you for fall clothes,” she said. “People are way more careful and taking fewer chances than they used to. They don’t dress up as much. They want to be comfortable.”
Novelty is selling, however, so Light booked Marrakech satin cargo pants, Trina Turk tops and flirty dresses by Likely and Dress the Population.
“I have a feather jacket by Lamarque that I can’t keep in,” she said. “It’s $250, and it’s adorable.”
Items are also driving business at M.L. Leddy’s in Fort Worth, Tex., said Kimberly Davenport, women’s fashion buyer.
“They want something different from what they already have,” she observed. “It was all about color for spring, thank God. Women love color.”
Leddy’s business was soft over the summer and has been spotty this fall so the spring budget was flat, Davenport said.
She invested in pastel five-pocket leather jackets by Jakett, abstract animal-print tops by Hale Bob and Lola & Sophie, and detailed button-down shirts from Harshman.
Angie Sarantopoulos, fashion buyer for Thompson + Hanson stores in Houston and Austin, was one of the few buyers who said her budget was up — by 15 percent. The three-store chain is an unusual amalgam of a high-end plant nursery combined with a lifestyle boutique offering home decor, clothing and accessories.
“We have gardeners who come in regularly, and while they are checking that out they might pick up a beautiful linen blouse,” Sarantopoulos explained. “Fashion used to be an add-on, and now it’s its own real department.”
She planned to order sportswear in neutral white, beige, soft blue and dusty pink from brands including A Shirt Thing, Jakett, Secular and White + Warren.
Kellie Rasberry, Dallas-based co-host of the nationally syndicated “Kidd Kraddick Morning Show,” scouted the shows for immediate and spring styles for her new online boutique, EKandMe.com. She launched the site this month with husband Allen Evans and daughter, Emma Kelly, who is 13.
“I was looking for a dress for my daughter to wear to a wedding back in the summer, and everything was not appropriate,” Rasberry explained. “It was too much skin or cleavage. I like things a little more on the modest side, so why not do it myself?”
Emma Kelly and Me’s limited selection of leopard-print calf-hair clutches by Parker & Hyde and Ellison separates almost completely sold out in one week.
In response to demand for larger sizes, Rasberry ordered styles by Skies Are Blue in small through 3X.
“It’s a beautiful line that doesn’t sacrifice on style for plus sizes, and that was my focus,” she said.