ATLANTA — Following a spring selling season complicated by war, weather and an ailing economy, buyers came to AmericasMart looking ahead to what they hope will be better times come fall and holiday.

Getting their attention at the June 19-22 market were tweeds, textures and feminine touches. Retailers invested in classic jackets, dresses and accessories that they hoped would entice shoppers.

Key trends included tweed or fringed jackets paired with skirts or jeans, and Fifties influences, such as circle, A-line or ruffled skirts. Multi-textured looks included patchworks, contrasting trims and fur treatments.

Retailers said cargo pants, military and utilitarian looks, while prevalent, have yet to be fully embraced by Southeast consumers who respond to more feminine looks, such as strapless or spaghetti-strap dresses in prints and colors. Social-occasion dresses and separates were sleek and close to the body, with glamorous touches from ruching to jeweled embellishment.

Attendance was up 11 percent over last year, according to Lawton Hall, senior vice president, leasing, Building Two. Exhibitors reported better-than-expected traffic and sales.

Vanessa Molina, a partner in Simpatico, a multiline contemporary sportswear showroom, said sales equaled the October 2002 show. Molina said while buyers sought immediates, late fall and holiday made up the bulk of sales.

Paula Hyman, principle of Michael & Paula Hyman Inc., a multi-line sportswear showroom, said sales were up 12 percent over last June. Trendy, young-contemporary pieces, such as cargo pants, outpaced more traditional misses’ sportswear.

Michael Day, owner of Buena Vista Shop Inc., a Winston-Salem, N.C., women’s specialty store, said knit sweatsuits, which started in juniors’, are becoming a major category for all customers. Day bought a range of silhouettes and colors from White & Warren and Love Amore. He bought casual pajamas and loungewear, which also have been big, in holiday motifs, from P.J. Salvage, RocketWear and Love Letters.

While items have outsold collections for some time, Day bought more groups, along with dressier looks for fall, hoping to spur higher-ticket business. He also sought vendors with good reorder programs and special-order capabilities. He bought Emil Rutenberg jackets and suitings, early fall linen from Flax, and special-occasion separates from Jovani and Chetta B.With a budget slightly down compared with last June, Day found lightweight fabrics and good colors at Eileen Fisher, CanvasBacks and Renfrew. For day dresses and younger special-occasion looks, he bought David Meister. He also picked up Tribal, a new coat line.

Merle Freed, owner of namesake boutique in St. Louis, said she bought tailored tweed jackets and skirts from a variety of resources, along with microfiber pleated separates by Babette. She also bought casual sportswear by In the Wash, T-shirts by Prairie and Tencel separates by Gerties. Accessories, particularly statement pieces, are important. She bought large earrings from various resources and handbags by Lulu Guinness and Citrus.

Amber Tsimbos, buyer at Copper Penny, with three locations in Charleston, S.C., shopped for holiday daytime and social-occasion dresses in versatile fabrics and styles. She bought strapless and Fifties-inspired dresses by Nanette Lapore, Tibi, Notice and Diane Von Furstenberg, along with satin drawstring cargo pants by Laundry.

In denim, she bought boot-cut jeans by Seven, Blue Cult and Citizens of Humanity, to pair with embellished T-shirts from Velvet. In accessories, she bought chandelier earrings from Erica Lyons and leather cuffs by Sha.

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