By  on June 22, 2005

ATLANTA — Southeastern buyers at AmericasMart shopped for summer, fall and holiday, and found embellished skirts and novelty tops to their liking.

Buyer attendance at the show on June 9 to 13 was flat compared with last year, said Lawton Hall, senior vice president. While some exhibitors complained about a lack of buyers, others reported increases from new accounts.

Novelty touches such as bright embroideries, appliques, stitching and special washes added pizzazz to the normally muted fall styles. buyers said. Trends included embroidered and beaded skirts, wide beaded sashes, embellished T-shirts, and shrugs and cocoons paired with lace-trimmed camisoles.

Tricia Rogers, owner of sales showroom Directions by Tricia Rogers, described the market as "quiet," although many buyers were drawn by her new atrium location. She said most buyers came looking for fill-ins, resort items and "newness" within lines.

Dan Strauss, owner of Dan Strauss Apparel Group showroom, said the market was slow and attributed it to the economy.

"People are careful with their money right now," Strauss said. "They aren't shopping like they should be."

Rick McKnight, owner of McKay's, a specialty store in Columbus, Ga., was pleased the market was beginning to better accommodate his 35- to 50-year-old customer with more forgiving cuts.

McKnight bought full, below-the-knee-length embellished skirts from Basil & Maude and Ario, which he said are the newest alternatives to khakis or jeans in the heat of summer in the South. For his younger customers, he bought dresses from Phoebe and Kathlin Argiro, denim from Bianni and Christopher Blue, and tops from Lilla P and Isda & Co.

Mary Beth Goldsmith, contemporary and casual sportswear buyer for Gus Mayer in Birmingham, Ala., and Nashville, concentrated on novelty and embellished pieces for holiday.

"I'm looking for more variety and more interesting merchandise," Goldsmith said. "Embellishment is a great trend because it just makes everything look a little more special."

She bought novelty sweaters, tops and halters from Aftershock, Cyrus, One Girl Who and Tracy Reese, as well as embellished skirts in a variety of price points, and dresses and embellished T-shirts from Johnny Was.Kelly Keel, manager of the Auburn, Ga., location of Private Gallery, a specialty store with 11 locations throughout Alabama and Florida, shopped for "distinctive" embellished goods for the accessories stores' growing apparel side.

Her relatively young customers tend to prefer "a lot of denim, a lot of color," she said, and she ordered denim from LTB and Joe's Jeans and was "fascinated" by FRX's Perfection jeans. Keel also bought embellished tops from Nally & Milly and Rebecca Bason, and embellished tops and skirts from Chick by Nicky Hilton.

Karen Eagle, owner of an eponymous specialty store in Virginia Beach, Va., scouted for fall sweaters, novelties and evening separates. Since closing her Richmond location and expanding sportswear offerings in her Virginia Beach shop, she tends to buy closer to delivery to "get a better feel for the trends," she said.

For evening, "color is the word," Eagle said, particularly espresso as an alternative to black. She came to the mart in search of cocktail dresses from Tadashi. For her growing sportswear business, Eagle sought a "pulled-together-bohemian" look, including ruched jersey dresses, denim and crocheted tops, as well as embellished pieces from Paradyz and Autumn Cashmere.

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