DALLAS — The emphasis on color, romance and femininity in spring fashion boosted buyers’ spirits at the four-day market ended Oct. 30 at Dallas Market Center.

“The designers and manufacturers have really done their homework and the product is beautiful,” said Carol Hoffman, who covers bridge and designer markets for her namesake buying service. “Our clients are cautious, but overall they have had a good August and September, and they are optimistic. We are advising them to focus on their best classifications and to make sure they select the creme de la creme.”

Some buyers were confident enough to spend slightly more on inventory, but most kept budgets flat because they were concerned the economy and presidential election anxiety could impact retail business.

“It was a good show,” said Deanne Wilde, who represents contemporary lines at her showroom. “The nice thing is they weren’t shopping for price. Analili, which is an American-made dress line with exclusive silk prints, did great, and it wholesales from $83 to $149.”

Carley Seale, owner of Gypsy Wagon in Dallas, said, “Everything has to be a show stopper — that one thing someone will love. It can’t be anything they can get at H&M and Forever 21.”

Seale dismissed trendy colored jeans as commodities and instead invested in Johnny Was sportswear, Charlie Jade printed maxidresses and Corral embroidered cowboy boots.

Buyer Katie Newton, shopping for Liberté, a boutique opening next year at Classen Curve in Oklahoma City, reviewed the new collection of tailored tweed and printed day dresses from evening label Theia.

“I love this because we’re looking for businesswear you can take from day to night,” Newton said.

Amanda Parenti, who flew in from Los Angeles as sales manager for Eva Franco, was surprised that her rep’s showroom, Launch, “was packed” on Wednesday, the day before the show officially started.

“I was still in my traveling clothes,” she said.

“More buyers are coming to market and earlier than ever before,” said Cindy Morris, DMC’s chief operating officer. “Attendance for all of 2011 was ahead of the last few years, and we look forward to attracting more new buyers and exhibitors next year.”

However, the Italian Fashion Expo’s location on the sixth floor wasn’t conducive to traffic, which is concentrated on floors 12 to 15.

“I expected more buyers,” said Silvia Raffa, director of events for the Italian American Chamber of Commerce, which produced the inaugural expo. “But I’m very happy because our exhibitors are getting an idea of how to work in this market. The cultures are different, so we want to educate them.”

Laura Asperti said she sold some of Le Piccinotti’s crisp linen dresses and separates, but she’d prefer to find a Dallas rep for the company, which is owned by her mother.

“We style for women who are not models,” Asperti said, noting it is sized up to 50, or American size 16.
Made With Milk, a contemporary sportswear line made of vegetable-dyed organic cotton, linen, wool and hemp, also sought a rep, said Chiara Pochetti, director.

Pochetti noted that the cotton is processed with milk solids. “It breathes more, is non-toxic and lightweight.”

The Italian Fashion Expo will be back at DMC next October and twice at major markets in 2013, Raffa said.

TRENDS:

Color: orange, turquoise, emerald, cobalt, yellow.

Dresses: sheath, chemise, blouson, caftan, maxi and high-low.

Colored denim.

Lace and crochet textures and sheer fabrics.

Tap shorts.

Prints: scarf, floral, abstract, stripes.

Day-to-evening dressing.

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