CHICAGO — Vendors and buyers reported a positive turnout at the latest edition of StyleMax, which ended its four-day run last Tuesday at the Merchandise Mart.

“The buzz on the trade show floor was extremely positive,” said Susan Glick, vice president for women’s apparel at the Mart. “In a challenging retail environment, many stores are buying closer to season. Those buyers found what they were looking for with an array of brands that could meet their immediate needs.”

The apparel and accessories show attracted more than 1,200 brands and about 300 exhibitors, and buyers came from 30 states, including Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York and Texas. “Pleased to say our growth continues with more contemporary brands showing in our ‘Exclusive in Chicago’ area than ever before,” Glick said, adding that buyer feedback regarding the expanded categories in gifts and accessories, footwear and young contemporary was encouraging.

From a vendor perspective, Tracy Schwartz, sales manager at N: Philanthropy, said the retail visits were “great.”

“Buyers are reordering and writing immediate deliveries.  I am showing through summer 2017 right now,” said Schwartz, adding that the brand opened three new accounts and wrote with 14 active doors. “Business has been increasing for us every show.”

Elizabeth Hand, account executive at Susana Monaco, said business was stronger than previous shows. “[It’s] in line with our own sales increase for the region as a whole,” Hand said. “I’m super excited to be wrapping up our best ‘Exclusive’ show at StyleMax to date. Our brand’s Midwest business is strong in specialty and majors alike, so it is not a surprise, but very welcomed.”

Retailer Bett Barnett of Bett’s and B2Contemporary in Chicago’s Highland Park suburb said the unseasonably warm weather this fall has influenced customer purchases, resulting in strong sales of lightweight rain jackets and ponchos, shawls and wraps. “Heavier outerwear and cashmere sales have picked up now as the weather cools,” Barnett said. “We have done a brisk business in trendy items such as leather, bomber jackets and anything with cutouts, laser cuts or cold shoulders. StyleMax has brought many new contemporary vendors in and I found there were plenty of special items offered for fourth-quarter selling as well as spring.”

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