ATLANTA — Despite the winter chill outside, a garden party atmosphere filled AmericasMart’s summer show, as floral prints, a full color spectrum and romantic styling — from ruffles and ribbons to buttons and bows — put buyers in a celebratory mood.

Still cautious and buying close to season, retailers concentrated on immediate deliveries of spring and summer goods, buying fall where available. Most described January business as fairly good, but were more optimistic about spring, predicting that the new trend direction would give consumers a reason to buy.

Attendance at the show, which ran Jan. 29-Feb. 2, increased 2.5 percent over last year. A new fashion show spotlighted hats accompanied by a gospel choir.

“We plan to highlight categories, such as hats, or maybe shoes, in the future, and combine shows with entertainment, to bring a little fun and excitement back to markets,” said Lawton Hall, senior vice president of AmericasMart. Hall said marketing efforts to buyers outside of the Southeast continue to pay off, along with a retail services team to target new retailers.

Buyers responded to trends, which seemed tailor-made for the South, where color and feminine touches are traditionally more accepted than minimal, urban-inspired looks. Spring and summer offerings featured an array of colors, from brights to pastels, playing off white as a basic.

Skirts were flared, pleated or flounced, with oversize buttons, bows or ruffles. Suitings featured shorter jackets in textured fabrics often trimmed with contrasting fabrics, fringe or stitching. Items, especially novelty tops, with special necklines and embellishments, remained popular with buyers, especially paired with denim, which continues to be strong in contemporary stores. The bermuda short also showed up as this summer’s alternative to cropped pants.

Color drove business at multiline sportswear sales firm Castles & Cobb, where sales exceeded last January’s market. Ty Cobb, principal, attributed increases to the strong demand for immediate goods.

Michelle Harrison, owner of a namesake showroom specializing in social occasion, said traffic increased 32 percent, with sales projected up 15 percent over last year’s show. January is becoming a more important market for special occasion retailers, who now buy close to season for prom and wedding months, she said.Jami Beale, store manager at M in Tampa, Fla., concentrated on spring-summer goods, allocating some money for breaking fall merchandise that wouldn’t be available later. While she liked bouclés and other textured fabrics, she chose lightweight versions suitable for her Florida climate.

Seeking product to differentiate her store from area chains and department stores, she bought several European lines, such as Isabel de Pedro’s sportswear and São Paulo’s colorfully embellished spring separates.

Banking on a big return of the suit for fall, Beale chose updated silhouettes that could be worn as jacket and skirt separates. She bought suits with contrasting details by Zelda and Tahari, bouclé suits by True Meaning and prints by Alberto Makali. Sophisticated skirts were also important choices, such as M.A.G.’s cotton twills with leather trim.

Beale ordered special occasion for spring and fall, concentrating on color, fabric interest and asymmetrical hems, rather than heavy beading or sequins, from Jovani and Sue Wong. For immediate deliveries, Beale bought novelty tops with zippers, nailheads, topstitching and conversational photo prints or whimsical phrases from “I Spy.”

She said sales at her store are up 30 percent over the past five months.

Enid O’Rourke, owner of Thomas Ashfield, a 4,000-square-foot better-to-bridge store in Richmond, Va., bought staple lines to wardrobe her professional customer: suits and separates by Tahari, Renfrew, Isda and Jenne Maag; jackets from Emil Rutenberg; pants by Fabrizo Gianni and blouses from Audrey Talbott.

“I’m shopping for soft, feminine looks, textures, good fit and colors, with nothing stodgy,” she said.

She also bought sweaters by One Girl Who and White & Warren to use with suits, along with scarves and accessories to dress up career looks. She bought the new sportswear division of dress resource David Meister for younger professional women.

To augment her career business, O’Rourke is also taking a more contemporary direction, buying skirts by Joseph Walker, Tailor New York and updated suitings by Cynthia Steffe. She bought rich colors, including pastels, that are well-received by customers year-round, she said.

Color has revitalized business at Clothes By Mertie, a Knoxville, Tenn., shop. “This explosion of color, along with the return to femininity, is giving consumers a reason to buy, rather than a rehash of seasons past,” said buyer Carolyn McReynolds.McReynolds spent 30 to 40 percent of her budget on special-occasion looks, including dresses in brights and pastels for mother-of-the-bride and wedding guests, from Daymor, Bob Mackie, Victoria Royal and Cattiva.

“Dresses are in demand, but hard to find, because they’re all sleeveless,” she said. “We need options because nobody over 40 years old wants to walk down an aisle in a sleeveless dress.”

Bright colors, paired with summer whites, were the focus for Kathy Hadley, owner of Posh, a contemporary chain with three stores, in Nashville and Clarksville, Tenn., and Decatur, Ga. In addition to apparel, color was key in her accessories buys, which included bright leather bags by Hobo and big acrylic bangles from a variety of vendors.

With denim still strong, Hadley bought jeans in new washes and straight-leg silhouettes by Seven, AG and James, along with tank tops embellished with conversational phrases, from Ella Moss and Bows & Arrows. She bought bermuda shorts at Bar-Tac and ruffled miniskirts from To The Max.

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