But most weren’t taking any chances. Demand for immediate deliveries was high as retailers continued to buy sparsely and selectively in the belief that they can obtain additional merchandise closer to or in season.
“They’re tight with their dollars,” said Rick Drysdale, who represents Free People and 16 other trendy lines at D2 Drysdale Showroom.
“I hear good things from buyers who have embraced social media and do fashion shows and advertising,” said Tribal U.S. sales director Dana Brown. “I hear bad things from those who expect [business] to be like prior to ’08. It’s never going to be that easy again.”
Popular silhouettes included boxy tops and draped tunics, jeans of every dimension, sheath dresses, rompers, jumpsuits and shoulder-baring looks.
Textiles with surface interest such as lace, crochet, laser-cut and cuddly knits were top sellers, along with novelty details including embroidery, ruffles and cutouts. Calypso blue, teal, grass green and bright yellow caught retailers’ attention.
“A woman wants something really different,” said Mary Kay Hirsch, regional sales manager for Joseph Ribkoff. “Color is really important, especially for summer, and lots of novelty and detail.”
The embroidered boho trend was good news for Johnny Was, which has specialized in the look for decades. The corporate showroom beat last year’s figures despite offering no new styles since the previous show, said regional sales manager Vickie Wilde. One of its biggest hits was an embroidered bomber jacket.
“The Johnny Was label is so well-known,” said Wilde, who was well aware that the market was challenging for many resources. “It’s an easy fit, and it makes women feel happy.”
Shopping with a flat budget for Halls in Kansas City, Mo., vice president of fashion merchandising and cosmetics Patty Ponchur focused on “items that give people a reason to buy,” including Grey State’s stylish cotton knit separates for spring.
The upscale department store celebrated its 100th anniversary this year as a division of family-owned Hallmark Cards Inc.
“Overall, the trend for spring is great,” Ponchur said. “It’s about vacation and getting away from how tough this year has been. It’s whimsy and wanderlust.”
Mary Towner, owner of Pinky’s in San Antonio, concentrated on novelty, jewelry and dressy casual spring fashions such as relaxed tops in linen and washed silk by Maven West, soft T-shirts in lace and cotton crochet by Metric, and styles from all six divisions of Johnny Was.
“I think girls always look good in Johnny Was,” she said.
Describing her clients as “all scared no matter who they’re voting for,” Towner nonetheless said she’d seen an uptick in business over the past two months.
Anne-Marie Casey, longtime owner of Annie’s in Oak Lawn, Ill., hunted for new resources as well as staples like J&D Trading beaded jewelry. She invested in easy matte jersey separates by Simpli, Tribal sportswear and London Times dresses.
Casey bucked the buy-now-wear-now trend, noting she receives goods as soon as possible.
“My customers know to come in,” she said. “My hold closet is jammed.”
DMC president and chief executive officer Cindy Morris said the complex saw more buyers and stores than it did last October.
“We are ending 2016 on a high note and ahead of last year,” she said, adding that the venue aims to grow its offerings of contemporary and accessories lines by 15 percent next year.
The show was the first in decades without Harold Wilson, who retired and closed his namesake showroom on the 15th floor.