DALLAS — Sales representatives were disappointed by the sparse turnout for the fall and holiday market that ended here June 3, but there was still action in accessories and novelty sportswear and denim.
The May-June market at the International Apparel Mart is typically not one of the busiest, and reps blamed the particularly poor attendance on the fact that the show opened only seven weeks after the previous one, which was fairly strong.
“Many of the reps had the best market they’ve had in the past five years in April,” said Brad Hughes, who just opened his third showroom of contemporary and bridge clothing in the building. “Ninety-eight percent of those orders haven’t even been shipped, so we can’t expect the buyers to come back to the well again seven weeks later. Our big orders this market were from people who didn’t come in April and were buying fall.”
Some reps and manufacturers have suggested that this transitional show be eliminated. But others counter that some business is better than none, and accessories reps are adamant that June is a critical sales opportunity.
“The right people are here, it’s just a matter of reeling them in,” said Cynthia O’Connor, who at this market opened a permanent showroom for designer accessories lines after a long absence from the building. “I’ve done 10 times what I ever did before in Dallas.”
Accessories were the main priority for many retailers at the show. They went for jewelry made with turquoise, coral, Buddha motifs, sculpted roses, shells, richly hued semiprecious stones, mixed metals and a variety of colorful beads. Elaborate leather belts with fringe and big decorated buckles were popular, as were handbags jazzed up with fur, fringe, embroidery, tooled leather and whimsical prints.
“I’m only buying accessories,” said Betty Thrasher, who owns The Rosebud store in Temple, Tex., and is Gucci creative director Tom Ford’s aunt. “We sell a lot of accessories because I think they make an outfit.”
Thrasher ordered Judith Jack’s 14- karat gold mesh, sterling and marcasite jewelry, as well as colorful multistrand beaded necklaces by Monies.
“Spring was slow, but things seem to be picking up and we’re looking forward to fall,” Thrasher said. “Special occasion has been our salvation because there a lot of weddings and things happening.”
Victoria Jackson, owner of Byzantine in Dallas, was also hunting for accessories in addition to item sportswear. She picked up Mary Kate’s crystal-studded metal hair clips, Parameter’s black matte jersey sleeveless top with lace-up shoulders over a matching asymmetrical skirt with ruffles, Anac’s printed mesh and lace tops and For Joseph’s suede fringe jacket.
“Business is a day-to-day thing,” she said. “It’s been up, down and all around.”
Stephen Skoda, a handbag and shoe buyer, was finishing up orders for August and September deliveries to Julian Gold, which has three stores in Texas and plans to unveil a new, 11,000-square-foot unit in Austin in August.
Skoda praised the original styling of Tiziana Collection, where he ordered an embossed suede handbag with a gold link and mink fur handle, as well as a tote in burnout hair calf. Skoda also went for soft silhouettes, textured surfaces and asymmetrical hobos from Longchamps, Monsac, Tusk and Maxx.
Lynn Bahr scouted for jewelry, belts and bags for J. Tiras, which has two accessories stores in Houston and one in Dallas. As J. Tiras’s regional manager, she bought sparkling chandelier earrings from R.J. Graziano and Gerard Yosca, as well as Yosca’s necklaces with metal Buddha pendants on knotted velvet ribbon.
Customers have been asking for beaded handbags, so Bahr ordered styles from Christiana and Pierre Urbach. She also picked up molded resin bags with jeweled straps by Maya and feather-trimmed evening bags from Split Personality.
“My customers are working girls and they don’t want to pine over a $400 bag,” Bahr said. “They want the look and to buy it at $150. People are thinking a lot more about prices.”