ATLANTA — Bright colors were a must-have for Southern retailers buying spring merchandise, notably in floral prints, as they scouted looks at the four-day market that ended Monday at the Atlanta Apparel Mart.
But black and white and shades of gray also had appeal. Kaye Davis, vice president of fashion at AmericasMart, which organizes the market, cited spring trends including printed tops, short shorts and flowing fabrics, but “It’s still a dress market,” she added.
Although retailers are upbeat about holiday and spring, they are not increasing their buys over continuing concerns about the economy and because this past spring was unseasonably wet and chilly, which hurt sales.
Marti Womac, co-owner of Boyd Thomas Clothing in Maryville, Tenn., said, “We are geared up for a good fall. We had a terrible spring, which brought business down. Going into October, business is brisk and sales are up now in the single digits.”
She bought the same amount for spring as she did a year ago, but said she’d reconsider her options in January.
Kathleen Tenner, owner of the four-unit Soca chain based in Birmingham, Ala., also had a tough spring because of the weather. As a result, she bought more pants and lightweight sweaters and jackets for spring 2014, and she’s tentative about buying.
“But I feel great about holiday,” she said. “I think it will be awesome.”
Lori Kisner, senior vice president, apparel at AmericasMart, said, “You can feel the atmosphere is so much more positive. People are taking chances again.”
Amy Hill, owner of Amy J. Hill Showroom, said opening day was the best day she’d had. She recently expanded her space and added new brands.
Buddy and Grayson DiFonzo, owners of the new Buddy Love Showroom, were pleased with the turnout, as was Paula Hyman, owner of Michael & Paula Hyman Inc.
“Retailers’ initial buys are still cautious…but we’re getting a lot of reorders lately,” Hyman said.
Tenner bought coated and colored denim, and faux leather dresses and tops for November and December. For spring, she booked graphic T-shirts and structured and Mod dresses with an eye for bright colors, as well as black and white. She booked her three top denim brands: Citizens of Humanity, AG Jeans and J Brand.
Peggy Edenton, owner of Edenton Etc. in Jackson, Tenn., booked European lines for spring before coming to Atlanta, where she bought jewelry, dresses and shoes.
“I look at everything and buy what I like,” she said. “I’m not a dedicated line buyer and I always look for new lines.”
While Edenton’s business has been slow this year, her store is profitable.
“Our customers are very cautious, but it’s beginning to change for the better,” she said. Colleen and Kathie Orrico, owners of C. Orrico in Palm Beach, Fla., with seven stores, were optimistic about spring.
“We’re seeing a lot of good trends,” said Kathie Orrico. “Everything is fresh and pretty.” They booked boxy sweaters and tops to wear with leggings, silk tops in floral prints, dresses in prints and stripes, leggings, jeans and palazzo pants.
Boyd Thomas’ Womac said she had already booked 40 percent of spring and would book another 40 percent here. She found two new lines — Olivia & Lea and Escapada — and also bought skinny pants, leggings, novelty denim and novelty tops, primarily in prints, but also some florals. She liked the grays in sophisticated knits, but said, “In prints, it’s color.”
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