A SEA OF ROMANCE AT DALLAS MARKET
Byline: Holly Haber
DALLAS — Eye-catching novelty tops and pants, plus romantic vintage looks for fall and holiday headlined shopping lists for buyers during market week at the International Apparel Mart.
One-shoulder, printed and multifabric tops were strong sellers, along with pants bearing photographic prints or details such as yoke seams at the knee, zippers, or slits running up the back of the leg. Retailers also bought into denim accented with studs or crystals, miniskirts, tuxedo evening styles, fur-trimmed sweaters and coats, bustiers, belts with crystal embellishment and scarves in fur, printed velvet and silk.
June isn’t usually a bustling market, but traffic seemed unusually slow to many sales reps. Heavy rain and flooding in Houston and Louisiana kept some buyers home, while other retailers may have been confused by a date change for this market.
Many of the retailers who did come were seasoned buyers and said business has been running even to a bit ahead this year. But they were unwilling to increase spending for fall or holiday, due to economic jitters and climate vagaries. Several buyers attending the five-day market, which ended June 11, said they were ordering smaller groupings and seeking lines that could ship reorders on hot sellers.
“People like fun stuff — I’m done with boring,” said Raquel Koff, owner of Rodeo Drive in Louisville, Ky., as she wrote an order for pewter-striped satin pants from View Collection.
Koff also favored theatrical-print pants from Signe and View, Angelika Val’s boldly printed stretch knit tops and Flora Nikrooz’s stretch lace camisoles and bustiers.
Victoria Jackson, owner of the Byzantine contemporary store in Dallas, liked the newness in jeans and romantic styles.
“I’m doing lots of “Moulin Rouge” bustiers, romantic blouses and vintage styles,” she said. “I’m not going to do big tulle dresses. It doesn’t sell because it makes you look bigger.”
Jackson had booked a champagne charmeuse top and skirt with a lace overlay by Tracy Reese, rose-printed velvet separates by Tessuto, copper-striped cotton blouses by Finley and dresses by Nanette Lepore. In accessories, she ordered colored crystal link belts from Leatherock, two-tone polished leather handbags by Tusk, stitched leather bags from Maxx and black and wine rabbit-fur scarves and wraps by Europa.
“I’m staying away from embellishment unless it’s an evening item,” she noted.
Nan Napier, owner of the Tres Mariposas bridge and contemporary store in El Paso, was shopping with a sharp eye on the past performance of lines in her store, armed with a printout listing detailed comments on dozens of labels.
“We’ve shifted our buy a little,” Napier said. “We’re doing less suits, career and bridge collections and more of the opposite ends — contemporary and classic, mature styles. The designer-style coordinated lines have died.”
Napier favored ruffled blouses by Parameter, knit tops from Essendi, Urchin and Angelika Val, denim from Love Amour, silk wrap blouses by Marisa Baratelli and novelty items by Custo Barcelona.
“Layering pieces are the key to sell-through,” she noted.
While reviewing Finley cotton blouses bearing geisha and Paris Metro prints, Leonard Rutan, who owns a namesake store in in Houston, said his customers were keen on unusual novelty tops.
“They have their basic pants,” he said. “I can always sell a top if it’s unusual and unique.”
Rutan planned to order printed blouses by Finley, lace underpinnings from MK Solo and off-the-shoulder knits by Cynthia Steffe. He was also scouting for gift items such as jewelry, handbags and silk scarves.
“I don’t know what to expect [economically], so I’m keeping a reserve so that I can special-order or reorder later,” he noted.
Phyllis Walker, owner of Del-Ann’s in Dallas, was placing orders for fall accessories and a few clothing items. She favored MK Solo’s tops, colored bead jewelry by Diane Katzman and Suzi Roher belts.
“I’m also looking for embroidered, embellished and beaded scarves, and fur boas and mufflers,” Walker added.
Lynne Henneke, owner of an eponymous contemporary store in Enid, Okla., was buying closer to season with the expectation of reordering.
“I’m looking for a lot of cute tops and items,” she said. “I did a lot with Jane Doe and they went out of business, so I’m trying to replace that.”
Henneke favored Irka’s fur-trimmed sweater with tulip embroidery, novelty tops by Nally & Milly and sportswear by Fabrizio Gianni.