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Storm Warning: Dip Dictates Buying at L.A. Market

Anxiety about the slowing U.S. economy sent a chill through the summer-focused contemporary fashion market that ended here Tuesday, as retail buyers narrowed their orders to easy-wearing and marketable clothing.

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LOS ANGELES — Anxiety about the slowing U.S. economy sent a chill through the summer-focused contemporary fashion market that ended here Tuesday, as retail buyers narrowed their orders to easy-wearing and marketable clothing.

Casual beach clothes, loungewear, dresses, bright colors, bold jewelry and versatile bags were among the categories popular with buyers at Designers & Agents, Brighte Companies and the showrooms housed in the California Market Center, New Mart, Cooper Design Space and Gerry Building.

"Halter dresses, racer-back dresses and even strapless dresses are what sell best for me now, along with prints," said Pilar Riskus, owner of a store called Hula Girl in Kapaa, Hawaii.

Designers tested their imaginations with prints. Los Angeles' Myne channeled Navajo art on chiffon and silk, Glendale, Calif.-based And Cake plastered Popsicles and cupcakes on T-shirts, and New York's Sunner offered a cheeky yellow print bursting with turquoise-tinted palm trees and pink sunsets.

Organic cotton and women's separates designed for casual comfort were also big for buyers focusing on the warmer months, with tank tops and Bermuda shorts among the notable styles.

"I bought a lot of tops for summer in basic cotton, but brighter colors for the season, like yellows, oranges and light greens," said Chae Young, a boutique owner from Tulsa, Okla.

Indeed, at D&A, yellow jacquard was popular for New York's Lauren Moffatt, as were jewel tones for New York's Foley + Corinna. At Brighte, summer marked a return to vivid hues for accessories. Green was the favored color in handbags at Los Angeles' Hype and Beverly Hills' SHIH by Stephanie Lin. Turquoise and cherry red were top choices at Los Angeles-based Linea Pelle, while ombré red, teal and tan were popular at Alexis Hudson, also based in Los Angeles.

Combining bright colors and stripes worked well for Three Dots, the Garden Grove, Calif.-based knit line, which unveiled three styles for the summer, including one horizontal pattern that highlights a gradation of vibrant hues like pink and yellow on Supima cotton. "It's new and fun and people are ready to see color," said showroom manager Lisa Rodman.
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