By  on February 17, 2005

ATLANTA — Exotic prints, metallic details and embroidery were among the key trends at the summer market at AmericasMart, which took place amid an ice storm that virtually shut down the city.

The weather during the last weekend in January was something of a mixed blessing. Although it made travel difficult and kept away some buyers, those who were already in town had little else to do but shop the mart.

Lawton Hall, senior vice president of apparel for the mart, acknowledged that attendance overall was down slightly. But there were more buyers from Florida, perhaps looking to fill inventory after the fall hurricanes, Hall said. Exhibitors said business was brisk, as many buyers stayed longer than anticipated.

Vanessa Molina, principal with the Simpatico showroom, reported sales increased 20 percent compared with last year. Molina said she lost a few North Carolina accounts to the weather but more than made up for it with those who did attend.

“We were slammed with people who were iced in and in a good buying mood,” she said.

The prints, metallic details and embroidery added interest to long, circular or tiered skirts, paired with tunics, tanks and halter tops. Preppy looks were also strong in pink and green, with touches of lace, ruffles and tiered lapels. Jackets, in shorter silhouettes and new fabrics, such as seersucker, were a fresh look, along with white capris and cuffed cropped pants.

Judie Culver, owner of Purple Plume, a specialty store in Lenox, Mass., shopped for fitted jackets in textured fabrics, including suede with novelty details such as patches or stitching.

She cited Nanette Keller, Click and Color Me Cotton as examples of lines with contemporary styling and more generous fit. Culver bought asymmetric skirts, denim capri pants and matching jackets or shirts. In travel fabrics, an important category, she purchased crinkle polyester reversible jackets and tank tops by Tania Nardi.

Clara Hochner, president of Fashion Consul, a Miami buying and consolidation firm, brought five specialty store clients to the market — two from the Dominican Republic, two from the Bahamas and one from Panama. Shopping for spring and summer goods, Hochner said the fall season is a big challenge for these stores, with little suitable product available. To compensate, she searched for lines that offer lightweight fabrics, such as rayons and polyesters, year-round.Hochner’s clients opted for tunics, caftans, jackets by Boho Chic and embroidered and embellished silk pieces by Glam. She bought Fortuny-pleated reversible skirts by Babette, and long, printed and embellished skirts by Basil & Maude.

“Latin American buyers want dressier, more put-together looks,” she said. “Dress codes are more regimented. These women wouldn’t be caught on a plane in shorts and flip-flops. They like outfits, rather than items.”

Marigail Mathis, owner of a specialty store bearing her name in Florence, Ala., ordered mostly summer goods, along with early fall from Olsen Europe. For summer trends, she bought edgy sportswear in distressed fabrics and raw edges from Project E and Cut Cute; cropped, cuffed pants by Elliott Lauren, and embellished skirts, paired with solid tanks and T-shirts. Concentrating on items, she bought embellished tops from Michael Stars and Three Dots to pair with jeans by Seven For All Mankind.

“I’m looking for color, new fabric treatments and fun clothing,” she said.

Shopping with an increased budget that reflected strong business over the past 18 months, Mathis said, “color and energy in the market,” along with new hotels and restaurants in her area, had boosted sales.

K. McCarthy, owner of The Phoenix specialty store in Richmond, Va., chose vintage-inspired embellished skirts and pants from Basil & Maude and Sage and romantic dressy looks from Babette and Zelda. She bought halters, T-shirts and tunics to mix and match from After Shock, cropped and full-length pants from various vendors and seersucker jackets from Christopher Blue.

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