Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — Glittery eveningwear, bright colors, prints and embellished novelty looks led bookings at the holiday and early spring market at the International Apparel Mart here.
Capri and cropped pants, beaded twinsets, ballskirts with sweater tops, fitted blouses with three-quarter sleeves and pants with embroidery or trim at the bottom were popular. Many were enthusiastic about the bright palette for spring and the abundance of such whimsical trims as embroidery, beading, beaded fringe and feathers.
The five-day market ran through Aug. 23. Most budgets were flat, while some were up as much as 10 percent, as buyers reported mixed business this summer. Some said June and July were dead but August had picked up with fall action, while others had the opposite experience.
“People were buying things that are fun,” observed Brad Hughes, who runs several better-to-bridge showrooms here. “They came with an optimistic view. A lot of people were still looking for fourth-quarter merchandise, so we’ll do spring in October. They were not even thinking about spring yet, but we’d much rather sell a 10/30 delivery and get it in the stores quick.”
“There is so much embellishment and fabulous color,” enthused Barbara Snider, bridge buyer for Esther Wolf in Houston. “Everything seems to have more ease, with drapier and novelty fabrics. It’s very refreshing — not all clean and gray and neutral. There’s so much detail and embroidery.”
Snider selected subtly embellished suits from Bergamo, Noviello Bloom and George Simonton, as well as knitwear by Rich & Levy. Though her budget was flat, Snider was upbeat.
“Because we are starting fall so strongly, hopefully we’ll end up the year with a nice increase,” she noted.
Victoria Jackson, owner of Byzantine, a contemporary store in Dallas, was enthusiastic about red-and-white-printed floral dresses by Nanette Lepore, Seventies-inspired crochet dresses by Laundry by Shelli Segal and Mica, and Roman- and Japanese-themed prints on long tank dresses by Tibi Hyland. She also ordered a pale blue feather-trimmed organza skirt with a matching shirred velvet top and embroidered skirts from Poleci.
“My business is up, but I’m budgeting conservatively — 10 percent up — because we’re about to turn into the millennium so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Jackson said.
Debbie Tusa and Monica Pesek, owners of Caruggi’s in
Houston, sought youthful styles with a misses’ fit and planned to spend the same amount as last August.
They found what they wanted at Kasada, which put together techno stretch tops and pants, and from Sadimara by Colette Mordo’s knitwear and Renfrew’s sportswear.
“Our customers are asking for color,” Tusa observed. “But they want it monochromatic because it makes them look taller.”
Herman Ringler, owner of Ringler’s in Dennison, Tex., had increased his budget by 5 to 6 percent for deliveries from November through January.
“June and July were not what we wanted, but we’re looking for a good holiday,” he noted. “We’re trying to bring in seasonless fabrics — things they can buy and wear from January through April. We like clean looks.”
Ringler picked up updated sportswear from Softwear by Mark Singer, Joseph A., Amanda Gray, Sharon Young, Pine Cove, Central Falls and Garfield & Marks, as well as handbags, sunglasses, watches and jewelry by Brighton.
Ringler noted he had attended Brighton’s one-day seminar staged a day before the market, in which retailers were invited to see how the line is designed and manufactured.
“It was phenomenal,” he said. “We got a lot of product knowledge.”
Beaded bracelets and cleanly styled handbags appealed to Janet Wallden, owner of Style Box in Vancouver, Canada.
“I think it’s the year of the accessory,” she said, noting she’d ordered beaded bracelets from If the Planet Had An Address, handbags from Crawford and Bishop Koch and delicate twisted-silver and pearl jewelry from several resources.
Suzanne Smith, owner of Suzanne’s in Amarillo, Tex., was reviewing DeSentino’s coordinated knitwear, which fit her need for easy dressing.
“We have more people asking for skirts now than in the past — both long and short, but there’s lots of objection to just-below-the-knee,” she observed. “We’ve really lightened up on our fabrics because last year we ate a lot of heavy fabrics.”
Smith planned to order embellished twinsets from Christina Phillipe, Ilde Marshall’s daytime and cocktail dresses and coordinated knitwear by DeSentino.