Tight Budgets Mark Dallas FIG Buying
By Holly Haber
DALLAS — Buyers cherry-picked the market for print, novelty and no-brainer dressing at the three-day spring show last month at Fashion Industry Gallery.
Given sluggish fall business, most kept budgets flat or down, but some increased their spring buys.
Retail may be a mixed bag, but FIG boasted its biggest shop temporary show ever with 353 lines crammed onto the second floor, according to Matt Roth, chief executive officer.
He intends to move FIG next year to a building that’s 13 percent larger in the nearby Design District.
“We’re busting at the seams,” Roth said.
The venue specializes in contemporary fashion and accessories and also hosts events.
Suzanne Collier, who operates her own showroom, said traffic was good but budgets were down.
“Two of our top stores are down 50 percent — one in Houston and one in Austin” she said.
Bobbi Baldridge, a buyer for Tres Mariposas in the border city of El Paso, Tex., said her budget was “way below” last year’s because business is depressed by low energy prices, devaluation of the Mexican peso and competition from the Internet.
“They want new silhouettes,” Baldridge said. “I’m moving away from leggings and tunics, and more into gauchos and culottes and feminine lace tops that you can dress up or down.”
Though sales have risen nearly 10 percent in each of the past three years at Leigh’s in Grand Rapids, Mich., merchandise manager Deb Clark kept the spring budget flat.
“We want to be careful like everyone else,” Clark said. “We’re coming into an election year.”
She rounded out her spring buy with selections from BCBG, Conditions Apply and Michael Stars.
“I’m looking for great, well-priced dresses because it’s easy,” she said. “Our customer is starved for tailored jackets that they don’t have to button. They’re telling us, ‘I want something I can wear every day.”
Others were feeling more bullish.
Tracy Szilasi, co-owner of Maison Weiss in Jackson, Miss., said business as “on fire,” with a 9 percent rise this year. The 40-year-old business is drawing more traffic since The Shops at Highland Village added Lululemon, Kate Spade and Whole Foods last year, she said. Maison Weiss also remodeled in 2014.
“My budget is definitely up because business is up,” she said.
Szilasi invested in knit tops by White & Warren and Autumn Cashmere, a printed palazzo pant by Lola & Sophie, and looks by Ecru and anne b.
“I love Norma Kamali, and the prices are amazing,” Szilasi said.
Diana Tabesh, owner of Planet Bardot in Dallas, hiked her open-to-buy because her store will more than double in size in the spring to 3,000 square feet. Tabesh opened the shop two years ago on Knox Street, a burgeoning shopping district, and has since purchased her location and several adjacent buildings.
“My whole concept is the West Coast and it’s been received so well,” Tabesh said. “I buy very clean contemporary in neutral colors — superclassic.”
James and Monica Smits tightened the budget for their Aspen Traders stores in Wichita, Kan., and Leadville, Colo.
“We’re going to write less and reorder later,” James Smits said.
The couple invested in jewelry by Chan Luu, Gemelli and Theia, particularly long necklaces, delicate pieces, tassels and gold with gunmetal accents.
“They are really into what’s local and comfy and Made in the U.S.A.,” he added.
At FIG, Tabesh picked up T-shirts by ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo and Beek leather sandals.
Roth said FIG’s new space will have a more efficient layout and high ceilings, white walls and concrete floors.
The Design District, which largely houses home furnishings showrooms and art galleries, has been percolating in recent years with new restaurants and apartments.
“The neighborhood is cool,” Roth said.
Women's Wear Daily - Friday, November 6, 2015