DALLAS — Election trepidation was top of mind at Fashion Industry Gallery’s holiday and spring market that ended Aug. 13.
“Business is tough and stores are cutting back on inventory,” said sales representative Suzanne Collier, owner of S. Collier showroom. “They are cherry picking and supplying enough for their customers, but not enough to have a big business.”
Retailers bought into contrasting trends, including wide and skinny pants, short and maxidresses, tops in oversize and boxy or shoulder-revealing styles, bomber jackets and dusters, and jewelry from delicate to bold and bright. Velvet and crinkled velvet were among the bestsellers for holiday deliveries, and midi-length culottes appealed to fashion-forward boutiques.
Given generally slow summer sales on top of election anxiety, traffic was light, and buyers were cautious.
“I’m being more careful and going with tried and true,” said Patty Hoffpauir, owner of the Garden Room in Austin, Texas. “I’m attracted to things I’ve not had before, but I’m staying with lines that I know can deliver on time. Before, I would incubate and advise lines, and I don’t have time for that.”
Among her selections were embroidered metallic leather ballet flats by Meher Kakalia, Fraas lightweight scarves in soft gray, rose and khaki prints, as well as bold necklaces composed of red vinyl disks by Cheryl Dufault.
Forward styles from Australia resonated with Maryam Afshari, owner of Baanou at River Oaks District in Houston.
“All of their stuff is very different,” Afshari said as she reviewed collections by Keepsake, Cameo and Finders Keepers at Place showroom. “They do fashion at a great price.”
Afshari caters to affluent women “who say they are not going to wear Dolce & Gabbana every day” and brides prepping for showers and celebrations.
Business is exceeding expectations at her two-year-old boutique, and Afshari estimated that her spring buy would ultimately quadruple.
“I buy low and reorder,”Afshari said, in a common refrain.
Marla Ross, owner of Adelante at the Pearl Brewery complex in San Antonio, said, “I’m up 35 percent for the year — it’s crazy. Business is hard and summer slow, but the Pearl is great.”
She attributed that success to an influx of affluent tourists visiting the Pearl’s new Hotel Emma. Her grandmother opened Adelante in 1975 and Ross moved it to the redeveloped Pearl Brewery in 2012.
Similarly, Kathryn Sams co-owns High Cotton, which her mother opened in 1974 in Jackson, Miss.
“Business is hard, but it’s still OK,” Sams said. “This is a hard transition now with election uncertainty. People are so busy and disjointed that they’re not shopping as much. Reward coupons have been helpful.”
Buying close to season, Sams picked up fall sweaters, tops and easy dresses from vendors including Michael Stars and Lilla P.
“It never gets cold in Jackson anymore,” Sams said. “I’m buying very few jackets. I don’t have a skirt in the store.”
Women's Wear Daily - August 24, 2016