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DALLAS — Buyers shopped the holiday and resort show at FashionCenterDallas here for summer fill-ins, early fall trend items, accessories, junior streetwear looks for back-to-school and party clothes for the holidays.

Stores looked for fresh interpretations of the all-important bohemian styles that are rocking at retail this summer. They also sought something more conceptual: ways to lure customers from the competition, including increasingly fashion-minded discounters and mass merchants, and big chain stores. Several showrooms buzzed with a cadre of stores on a mission to diversify their merchandise mixes and entice a broader range of customers, including misses’ shoppers age 35 to 54.

Budgets at the market that ended its four-day run June 5 ranged from slightly down to ahead by double digits, and sales representatives reported a range of traffic patterns that matched stores’ disparate open-to-buys.

“We saw lots of new regional and out-of-territory stores this market from as far away as Canada and Puerto Rico, including 38 stores that were new to our showroom,” said Carol Ferrell, co-owner of Ferrell & Kramer Marketing.

“Many of the stores left orders and were very optimistic about the economy going forward,” added co-owner Pam Kramer. “The colorful, embellished styles are scoring at retail with shoppers.”

Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of the Dallas Market Center, parent of FashionCenterDallas, said, “Our June attendance was solid following a very strong March market and matched last year’s attendance, which was part of the grand opening of FashionCenterDallas.”

Morris said international attendance increased 10 percent. She didn’t provide raw figures.

Marian Benson, owner of The Collection, a specialty store in New Braunfels, Tex., said she was buying with a flat budget, ordering summer immediates, early fall and holiday knits and sequined dresses, and colorful, lightweight spring sportswear.

“We loved South Coast’s embroidered and ribbon-detail fabric handbags, Northern Isles’ winter-motif knits, and we picked up a range of sequined items and spring styles,” Benson said.

Sue Bearrie, owner of the namesake store in Colleyville, Tex., increased her budget 25 percent, citing strong business.

“Women are in a buying mood and love jewelry and accessories to dress up or down their wardrobes, so we came to market to find immediates and fill-ins,” Bearrie said. “I saw lots of pearls and sequins, which continue to look fresh, and a big emphasis on metallic and snakeskin finishes in handbags. I bought casual handbags from Hobo and French Sole’s sequined ballerina slippers.”

This story first appeared in the June 15, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Cathi Lake, owner of J. Winston in Amarillo, Tex., left paper for immediates, fall and holiday with a budget that was slightly ahead of a year ago.

“I liked the holiday fashions from Yansi Fugel, including some wonderful embellished tops and pretty holiday skirts that were a little fuller but not too long — about 27 inches is a good length right now. I loved the black, gray and cranberry color palettes. I also bought Basil and Maude’s lace and sequin skirts with colorful linings, and bohemian-inspired items that look good and make women feel feminine. I think the trend will stay strong for next spring and I know the customers certainly hope so, too.”

Kathy Wardlaw, owner of Kathleen’s in Waco, Tex., scouted the market for embellished tops, skirts and denim jeans, especially styles that will appeal to misses’ customers.

“I liked boot-cut styles with a fuller cut and darker rinse from Barbara Lesser, Joe’s Jeans and 575,” Wardlaw said. “I also picked up both embellished and tailored shirts from Foxcroft and Finley Moll, who did some beautiful French-cuffed shirts.”

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