FIG: A Fashionista’s Candy Store

By Ashley Stainton

Once-barren clothing racks are now filled with sequined blouses, vibrantly colored dresses and freshly pressed skirts.   The staging lights have been checked, the sound of heels clicking against the cement floor drown out the hip music playing in the background, and the “who’s who” of the city’s fashion world are all gathered under one roof.

It’s a sight seen only a few times a year in Dallas.

Designers, fashion enthusiasts and storeowners assembled in the Downtown Arts District the weekend of March 23 and 24 for the Fashion Institute Gallery’s first of two fall markets.

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

This is one of FIG’s bigger markets, says FIG’s Carman Thompson,  with 61 temporary vendors participating, in addition to the 38 permanent vendors who have showrooms located in the FIG building.  Hundreds of collections from Dolce Vita to J Brand were showcased for buyers representing boutiques and stores around the country.

Christy Munger, sales director for Akola Jewelry, had a booth at the show.  “Everyone is really excited,” Munger says.  “It’s the first time some of these designers and brands get the chance to make their merchandise available to the public.  We are interested to see what is popular, what stores think will sell – essentially what gets picked up.”

While the fall market is by appointment only, FIG also hosts a biannual FIG Finale – in January or February and again in August – which is open to the public.  Over 2,000 people have attended the event in the past for the chance to shop FIG’s exclusive sales at up to 75 percent off retail prices.

The nationally recognized tradeshows FIG offers throughout the year have helped keep Dallas on the map as one of the premier fashion cities in the country, says SMU student Katie Roberts, who worked the FIG fall market.

“My favorite part about working at FIG is seeing what looks all the buyers and exhibitors show up in each day,” Roberts says.  “These people are often very fashion-forward, so what they wear or what they choose to sell or buy helps me to visualize future trends. Right now patterned pants seems to be what’s in for next season and clothes with a lot of movement.”

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

This first fall show was deemed a success with a lot of positive feedback from buyers and exhibitors, says Thompson.  The FIG team isn’t wasting any time, however. They are already getting ready for the next event.

“Once market is complete, it is just the cleanup process, and then we start preparing for the next upcoming market.  It is a continuous cycle,” says Thompson.

“When we prepare for the next market we have what is called a ‘market checklist,’” she adds. “This checklist has anything and everything there is to setting up for market. So the planning begins about six weeks out. Some things have to be confirmed prior to that, but that is our starting point.”

The next FIG event, the second fall market and 2013 winter market, will be held May 30 to June 1, so planning is in the initial phases.

Roberts hopes to again be a part of it.  “This is my second time working at FIG and, honestly, what keeps me coming back – besides the fun, fast-paced atmosphere and friendly staff – is the clothes!  I wanted to see what went on behind-the-scene in fashion, which is why working at FIG has ended up being perfect for me.”

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

Photo credit: Ashley Stainton

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