BIG PLANS IN BIG D

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — The Dallas Market Center, parent of the International Apparel Mart here, is wasting no time in implementing a medley of new retailer outreach campaigns.
The planned payoff is not only an easier shopping experience for buyers, but an intensified commitment to high tech wholesale merchandising, said DMC executives.
A new e-commerce program set to make its debut in January will allow buyers to shop online — plus a whole lot more, said Cindy Morris, the DMC’s executive vice president of marketing.
She gave WWD the first sneak preview of the Internet initiative in advance of the formal unveiling of the site in January, when full details will be announced.
“The DMC encompasses 2,000 manufacturers and 75,000 retailers across seven primary industries,” explained Morris.
“With this foundation, we can facilitate a true interactive transactions-based link on the Internet. E-commerce will be an added benefit to the market experience.”
The new Web site is set to include the DMC’s year-old Label Link Internet program that guides buyers to specific types of merchandise along with a greatly expanded focus on fashion trends.
Buyers also will be able to obtain registration data and check out market dates and specific showroom information.
Morris said the new Web site will be highlighted in the DMC’s advertising campaigns.
Lately, the company’s ads have been getting lots of attention for their focus on retailers, many of whom are starring in the campaigns.
Called “The Many Faces of Dallas,” the ads feature whimsical fashion photos and colorful illustrations of buyers who shop the mart. Captions detail the retailers’ names and store locations along with a quote lauding Dallas as a shopping destination.
The October market guide, for example, features Leslie Diers, president of the Lester Melnick specialty store chain here, along with the quote, “We require a constant flow of goods to keep things fresh, and the positive relationships we’ve developed in Dallas through the Apparel Mart have helped us achieve that.”
The DMC knows there’s strength in numbers, and it’s calling on the muscle of its huge June gift and home furnishings shows, called SuperMarket, to bolster the June women’s and children’s apparel show, typically one of slowest markets of the year.
It has scheduled both shows for June 22-26 next year to promote crossover shopping. And there will be a continual stream of shuttles buses running from the International Apparel Mart to the Trade Mart and Market Hall, the site of the SuperMarket.
Together, the two shows are expected to draw between 35,000 and 40,000 retailers. The DMC declined to break out typical specific attendance for each show.
“We believe combining these two shows can set a precedent in the industry,” said Morris. “Retailers want to do more cross-merchandising in stores. It gives the retailers an additional benefit to come to market. In the past, many stores were trying to decide between coming to one or both shows. Combining the two shows provides more efficiencies for the stores.”
As reported, the DMC plans to relocate five floors of exhibitors in the Menswear Mart starting in January to the second floor of the adjacent International Apparel Mart. The space comes at the partial expense of several bridal showrooms that are being relocated to the third floor near the Fashion Theater.
The second floor also is home to the red-hot Studio II contemporary and junior section of the mart, and men’s wear exhibitors are expected to benefit from Studio II’s popularity.
Robbin Wells, executive vice president of soft goods leasing at the DMC, said men’s wear tenants should be moved to their new showrooms by next August near the front lobby of the second floor. More traditional styles of men’s wear will be run down higher-numbered hallways, while contemporary product will be housed on lower numbered hallways. The men’s contemporary area is designed to merge into the Studio II women’s area.
“The men’s wear is bringing a very positive buzz to the area — 75,000 square feet was available, and we’ve already leased 70,000 square feet. Vendors already there are reassessing their size. Several junior and jeanswear companies are taking on more space. Ocean Pacific, for example, doubled their square footage. Phat Farm is new to the market. FUBU went into a corporate space. CK Calvin Klein is opening a regional office here.”
The DMC has unofficially dubbed the new area “Urban Alley” in light of the more forward men’s wear lines and plethora of junior labels expected to reside there. The decor will be marked by bronze metallic columns and four-color asymmetric tile floors.
“We have to continually remerchandise ourselves like a retail store to stay fresh for buyers. It’s a process of constant reassessment,” Wells added.
She said the number of lines exhibited at the Menswear Mart has held steady for nearly a decade and that the number of corporate tenants had diminished.
The Menswear Mart, with a total of six floors, will stay home base to the fifth-floor western wear vendors. The remaining space will be marketed to fashion-related firms, among other target tenants.

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