12 Sept 2016
No Go Slow for Boho as the One Fashion Style Seen to Unite the States
The Bohemian look defies fashion convention and remains popular across the many and usually varied regional US fashion markets, according to the majority of eager buyers and exhibitors at this year's Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market.
The Bohemian look is still finding favour with buyers and consumers across the US, at least according to the very fashionable folk gathered for The Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market. Prints are also said to be selling well, with loose fits and floral patterns doing better in the Southern and Midwestern states, while West Coast shoppers seem to have a preference for bolder geometrics in a slimmer cut.
Despite tastes in different parts of America usually diverging, boho-chic still remains popular across the whole of the country. The Southern and Midwestern regions, however, are the best markets for floral prints, while bolder geometric patterning has greater appeal on the West Coast.
Overall, attendees at this year's event noted larger, looser cuts working better in the southern states, a preference partly put down to the more generous proportions of the local buying public when compared with their coastal compatriots, though partly also due to the warmer and more humid environment down south. The 'cold shoulder' trend was also well represented across a number of show stands.
Several exhibitors reported that Texas was a particularly good market for tie-dye patterning and traditional western materials, while sports-themed T-shirts were said to sell well across the South. This was particularly the case for any designs featuring American football motifs.
Taking more of an overview and there were mixed feelings as to the current level of market confidence at the event. While some exhibitors reported strong orders, others bemoaned falling buyer attendance at a show that, unfortunately, fell between the release of the late summer and early autumn collections.
Kellye Harris, Founder of the Texas-based Reckless Angel, was one of many to testify to the continuing popularity of boho-chic. She said: "I think boho is working everywhere right now, even on the West Coast. It's unusual for Texas and the West Coast to favour the same trend, but they are. I have even seen boho in New York."
While the style may be popular across the country, for Harris certain items were clearly more in demand in the southern US. She said: "Lace and crochet works well in the South, but T-shirts are our best sellers. Overall, it's just very casual clothing such as tank tops with lace trim – very basic, and very simple. It's the kind of thing that you can use by itself or as a layering."
Boho was also seen as key by Willie Han, one of the Founders of Los Angeles-based ODDI Clothing. He said: "The trend is for the Bohemian vibe, with the fringe and all that type of stuff. Sometimes flashy stuff works here in Texas too, you never know. It changes all the time."
While most exhibitors saw boho as having universal appeal across the disparate American markets, one show-goer thought it fared better in some regions than others. David Lee, a Sales Manager with California's Blush Noir, said: "Our line is a little more boho. It's very romantic, with lots of embellishments, such as lace and fringes. It's mainly for the young contemporary market.
"I think the boho feel does a lot better out here and around Middle America than it does in Los Angeles or on the West coast and East coast."
Another approach proving popular both in the South and on the West Coast was prints, albeit with a number of variations. Highlighting this, a Spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Ezra Clothes, said: "Our focus is more on the basics, which are selling well. Prints are very popular. It's the same here in Texas as it is in Los Angeles."
Sean Kim, a Sales Representative for California's Korner Runway, however, was finding more success with brighter colours and designs. He said: "Bright colours work better here than in other states. Tie-dyes and T-shirts have been selling particularly well."
For Heather Wilson, an Executive Assistant with Los Angeles-based Tres Bien Clothing, while she sees prints as popular in both regions, she finds that quite different designs suit the rather more conservative tastes in the southern US. She said: "In Texas they really like floral prints. They don't like anything too out of the box. They want to keep it sort of simple.
"In Los Angeles, they like bolder prints – and different cuts. Here in Texas, they like flowy and loose. In LA, they opt for a more fitted style."
Different fabrics were also attracting Texan buyers, particularly when catering to the Western/rodeo culture popular in a state still very much in touch with its frontier roots. Wilson said: "For fall, it's definitely suede. We also have a fabric called hacci, a sweater material that has been doing really well, as has our range of fur vests."
Han also concedes the importance of carrying larger sizes in the hot and humid southern markets, saying: "We had a few oversized tops and that has been working well here because it is such a comfortable fit. I guess that is what people are looking for."
A Spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Jun & Min Clothing, meanwhile, maintained there were regional differences in both style and cut preferences. She said: "It's a completely different style here. This is more like southern country style. By comparison, LA is more trendy.
"We are known for the mineral wash and stone wash look and they are our best-selling items right now. Our range is for the southern region – we are southern fit and southern style. Our sizes run a little more generous too, because people in the South are, I guess, a little thicker than the people on the West Coast.
"A lot of the time we see buyers taking one style with multiple colours. They will be the best sellers in the Texas market."
Jun & Min Clothing was not alone in bringing a distinctly southern country-styled collection to the Dallas event. The T-Party Fashion brand, based in Los Angeles also had on offer a collection for those southern ladies looking to dress up.
Latrina Candia, the company's Sales Representative, said: "We have brought out some things specifically to cater for the southern market. A lot of the clients who have come by have been very interested in making sure that they outfit their customers for upcoming rodeos and 4th July events."
Candia also highlighted the 'cold shoulder' trend of cut-out exposed upper sleeves, saying: "The off-the-shoulder piece seems to be very popular, not just with the younger crowd, but also with a lot of older women, partly because they are self-conscious about their arms.
"The way that we have this piece cut just shows the cap and then the rest of the arm is either covered or there is a decorative piece on it. It keeps you cool. That has been working well.
"It goes down particularly well in the south because of the heat and not just in Texas. I think a lot of ladies want to look fashionable, while also being comfortable in breathable materials."
At the more casual end of the market, T-shirt brands were also well represented at the event. Many ranges featured a variety of slogans and ideas, but sports themes were perhaps the most prominent. Staci Wright, Owner of the Texas-based Twisted Tangerine T-shirt line, said: "I think that sports stuff is bigger in the South than up north. Football, specifically, is very popular here."
Exhibitors were generally – although not universally – positive about business prospects at present. David Lee of Blush Noir was very much in the positive camp, saying: "It's good; people are spending money." ODDI's Han had a similar view, saying: "Yes, there is confidence in buying compared to what there was a year ago. There are now a lot of bigger orders."
Not everyone at the event was quite so positive. Korner Runway's Kim said: "Business is not good, business has slowed right down. I've been in this industry for 20 years and it has slowed right down now. People are really just trying to save money."
The Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market 2016 was held at the Dallas Market Center from 8-11 June.
James O'Donnell, Special Correspondent, Dallas