By Holly Haber
DALLAS — Specialty merchants responded to lavish fabrics and materials such as leather, suede, chunky knits and fuzzy bouclé at Fashion Industry Gallery’s three-day fall market that ended March 27.
Spring business is off to a late start, retailers said, but they felt positive about the lush fall styles and the return of warm cognac and saddle hues after a long hiatus.
“Our very full venue felt energized throughout our March show,” said Emma Greathouse, FIG director. “Market traffic was steady. The quality of buyers and new buyers continues to exceed our expectations.”
“The customers are loyal and know what they’re doing,” said Kelly Luedtke, noting her showroom did well with sweaters by Lilla P and Leo & Sage. “They’re ordering vests, cardigans, bouclés, sequined knits, dusters. Donegals are doing great.”
Gene Kagan, designer of Lola & Sophie contemporary sportswear, reported record bookings running about 30 percent ahead of last year and 20 percent up from the January market.
“I had a bunch of reorders for immediate [deliveries], but the focus was definitely on fall,” Kagan said. “The traffic was really good. It may not have been better than before, but I’m getting bigger orders.”
Sherry Levy, co-owner of Dimensions in Houston, said, “Lola & Sophie is an extraordinary line for us. [It] covers the gamut from a 30-year-old to a 60-year-old, which does not happen very often.”
Energy-centric Houston has recently suffered more than 22,000 layoffs due to the low price of oil, and Levy said she’s seen a “little bit” of a pullback in spending.
“The customer is still buying, but it may be a smaller volume purchase,” she said.
Shelley Cox, co-owner of Cayman’s Clothiers in Norman, Okla., said business is good at the established store, but foot traffic is becoming a challenge as Oklahoma University’s 31,000 students shop increasingly online.
“It’s very different today from five years ago,” Cox said. “We’re working on an online business to enhance the brick and mortar.”
Shopping for “more affordable” fashion to balance the store’s higher-end offerings, Cox picked up soft blouses and rompers by And B; dainty beaded jewelry by Heather Hawkins; distressed boyfriend jeans by Blank NYC, and Pepin’s Seventies-inspired T-shirts.
“We work very hard to find things for all ages and all body types,” Cox added.
Leah Little Hale, contemporary buyer for Houston-based Tootsies, had a bigger budget to spend on key brands.
“Dallas has great vendors,” Hale said. “I love Ilia. It’s one of my favorite leather lines. There are so many pieces, I’ll have my work cut out to edit it.”
Michael Stars showroom at Fashion Industry Gallery.
Women's Wear Daily - Tuesday, April 7, 2015