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CONTRARY TO EARLY EXPECTATIONS, optimism was the reigning mood at a number of important fashion expositions held around the country recently.  Buyers were careful how they spent their money, true, but they also expected their customers to respond well to good merchandise and right prices, and that attitude buoyed up show sales and made for much more enthusiastic market experiences.


At The Designers & Agents, Focus Apparel and Accessories Trade Show in Los Angeles, one vendor pointed out that many retailers are also dealing with very low inventories, and they have no choice but to buy if they intend to open their doors. 

     –Responding to this, one retailer said, “That’s true, but I am only buying what I absolutely know will sell.”  In other words, buying was careful here, and few were going out on a limb buying something that looked good but may have had questionable retail appeal. 


Even so, novelty was the big selling point in Los Angeles.  All kinds of embellishments, aimed at putting glitz and glamour into the wardrobe, were popular.  Apparel with sequins sold well, along with embroidery and crystals.  An especially hot number for dresses, separates and accessories:   metallic materials.


TISH YOUNG OF MICHELLE MASON’S boutique said anything short and sexy was selling well.  That meant leather, especially, but at good prices.  “Cheap” is how one retailer put it.  And that was what he was looking for in price tags:  low, lower, lowest. Casual sportswear, particularly anything under the $50 tag mark, moved fast.   






                                                 Feminine Touch


BROOCHES WERE AN UNEXPECTED POPULAR item in Los Angeles, as well, giving a feminine touch to many man-tailored pieces. Skinny jeans were hot, but that’s more or less what everybody expected them to be.  Plaids were very big, with an eye on fall and winter dressing. 


Moderately priced handbags moved up in customer appreciation, with wholesale prices ranging from $25 to $300. The big trendy color in handbags was gray.  As one vendor put it, “It’s a nice option as a neutral, instead of always doing black or brown.” Statement necklaces with large agates were major numbers at a Texas-based jewelry concern.


An Arizona-based jewelry designer said that jewelry pieces selling for $300 or more would have to wait for more a favorable economic environment.  Right now, he saw jewelry pieces –especially rings – at a $12-$15 wholesale price as popular choices.


                                                     Dallas Expo


NOBODY WAS ACTUALLY SINGING “Happy Days Are Here Again,” at the recent FashionCenterDallas market run, but retailers at the show were shopping…and that’s

“real cause for applause” as one vendor put it. 

     –Retailers said they were looking for “feel-good” fashions at reasonable prices. “Nothing over $500,” an industry observer noted. 


Cindy Morris, chief officer of the Dallas Market Center, said the mood was positive at the show and traffic was steady, with retailers open-to-buy.


“The middle of the country remains better off than anywhere else,”                   she pointed out, adding that she expects the second half of the year

            to do very well.    


ON THE ACCESSORIES CIRCUIT, faux crocodile handbags rang up high numbers.  Most buyers wanted them in rich, even hot colors, like blazing pink or summer-sizzling greenMultiple bracelets also came in with a strong popular vote, along with statement necklaces.  Big to very big chandelier earrings, Victorian-inspired, India-Indian, and modern designs further helped boost the importance of accessories to a high market point.  Color was a major buying factor, especially electric blue and plum.



  • Fashion ring with amethyst center stone surrounded by clear crystals.  Choose your gemstone color!




  • Designer purse in soft, genuine-looking leatherette.  Color options.


                                           Starting to Percolate


WHILE BUSINESS ELSEWHERE in the country remained mostly in the doldrums, here in Dallas, things seemed, at least, pretty good.  Pam Kramer of Ferrell & Kramer showroom asserted, “Things are starting to percolate again.”  Sara Leboeuf of Moseley & Hollard said, “You do have to work harder” but customers are coming in. 


Dresses sold well at both the Dallas and Los Angeles markets.  Geometric ivory and black prints were strong, along with stretch silk twill shirt dresses.  Metallic dresses couldn’t have been better.  As one vendor said, “They sell and sell!”  As in Los Angeles, casual styles sold best in Dallas.


     –One retailer with a “retired age” customer base said she was looking for “fun little items.”  She was excited by a black cotton blouse with an attached obi belt in tomato and orange. 

     –Another retailer said she was looking for studded skinny belts in a variety of colors.  She said she was interested in items that were dressy-casual. 


ONE OVER-RIDING CONSIDERATION at the markets had to do with the color green — not in money, however, but in ecology.  A surprising number of retailers expressed an interest in ecologically correct merchandise, saying they did not want to buy or sell products that had a negative effect on the earth. Kathy Means, of Kathy’s Boutique in Athens, Texas, was interested in organic cotton cardigans from Eco-Centric.  Her business, she said, was “equal to or slightly ahead of last year.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

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