Most clothes hounds don't think much about how the latest fashions arrive at their favorite local boutiques — they're just eager to try on the goods. For business owners, however, the process is far from simple. It involves knowing their customers' tastes, forecasting trends and making a pilgrimage to a fashion mecca known simply as "market."
"Basically, the point of market is to choose your pieces or clothing lines for the up-and-coming season," says Rachel Spratt, who co-owns Shopitoulas. "It's nice to see the clothes in person, feel them and get a sense of the line. You see these hundreds of vendors and pick and choose who you'd like to carry, tailored to your clientele."
Spratt and Gisele Cosma, owner of Rye Clothing, recently attended Magic, a wholesale market in Las Vegas, and Rhonda Findley, owner of Pop City and Funrock'n, recently visited the Dallas Market Center, a 15-floor, 5,000,000-square-foot wholesale trade center with temporary and permanent showrooms of home and fashion brands.
"People and famous designers come and they bring everything you can imagine," Findley says. "It's fun and fast-paced. If you want to see Calvin Klein's fall 2016 collection, it's there. You can see it first."
Findley, Spratt and Cosma share the season's trends from market — and preview what shoppers can expect to find in boutiques this spring.
Lower hemlines and a retro twist
Hemlines are lower across the board as clothing becomes more tailored, with a vintage feel. "Women of all ages are seeing you can be sexy with a longer, almost retro-style skirt," Findley says.
"You're seeing very structured, conservative looks," Cosma says. "I saw a lot of separates and skirts below the knee. To me, it seemed much safer than what it's been in the past."
But the longer length trend doesn't mean customers should stock up on maxi dresses. Those summer staples have gone the way of jams shorts.
Denim: anything goes
While Spratt reports a prevalence of boxy, high-waisted "mom jeans," Findley says almost anything goes when it comes to jeans: She saw every silhouette from straight-leg to flared.
Stretch denim still has a presence: "I saw lots of skinny jeans still," Cosma says. "It is not out."
Patchwork and printed denim in patterns like polka dots, snakeskin and florals will be a big trend, Findley says. However, trends such as bedazzled jeans, light washes and super-high or low-rise waistlines are definitely past their prime.
For once, handbags are not getting bigger, Spratt says. "Pocket-sized, cross-body purses were huge," she says. "I saw small handbags and satchels everywhere in bold colors."
Shoes: a '90s influence
Leslie Gallin curates the "shoe show" at Magic's FN Platform, and reports five major trends for spring: 1990s-inspired lug soles on oxfords and heeled booties; pastel pumps inspired by Pantone's colors of the year (rose quartz and serenity); kitten heels; monk-strap styles for men and women; and desert boots. "Both streamlined and lightweight, [desert boots] are the perfect transitional piece for spring to fall," she stated in a press release.
Designers are moving away from dramatic statement necklaces toward more subtle pieces. "Jewelry has become simple, dainty stuff, not so loud and rhinestone-y," Spratt says. "Rose gold was in for a minute, but now it's fading out. I saw a lot of gold and silver."
"Jewelry is going long, lean and very thin and discreet, much like what Charlize Theron wore for the Oscars," Cosma says. Findley says these long necklaces lend themselves to layering, and she saw lots of arrows, natural stone and turquoise elements.
Luxe yoga wear
The "athleisure" trend is not going away, but it is becoming more refined. "Every single line is taking inspiration from yoga wear," Cosma says. "You're seeing that loose, drapey comfort but lovely fabrication."
"These flattering jersey fabrics make you look pulled together," Findley says. "You could wear that gray jogger pant with a beautiful cashmere sweater and be comfy but look classy."
Skin is in — shoulders in particular. "Anything shoulder-baring is a major trend, because it's simple yet chic," Spratt says. Nix the midriff-exposing tops (though crop tops are appearing paired with higher waistlines) and miniskirts — those pieces are out. "No more belly buttons," Findley says.