By  on September 25, 2008

AmericasMart is thinking bigger.

Expanding several categories for the upcoming Atlanta Apparel Market, which runs Oct. 11 to 14, the mart aims to cultivate its temporary offerings, grow its special-occasion business and continue its foray into premium men’s contemporary and children’s apparel.

The biggest push during October’s show will be bridal, whose offerings will show on the 10th floor and will include 45 temporary booths and 48 permanent showrooms, 21 of which have opened since July.

“August is our big prom market, so some buyers don’t have a chance to pick up all the bridal they need. It’s a formula that works for us. We offer [bridal] again to round out the October show,” said Lawton Hall, senior vice president of leasing. AmericasMart is also bringing in more bridal, prom and special occasion accessories, including veils, shoes, handbags and jewelry.

Men’s apparel continues to grow. Exhibitor participation in Alpha, a juried men’s show of about 300 streetwear and shoe companies, is up 10 percent from June, according to Chuck Corvi, project manager, apparel trade show. Additionally, more emphasis is being placed on bringing high-end men’s wear to Premiere, a contemporary showcase on the second floor. Men’s lines on Premiere have increased from seven or eight last October to about 75 for this market, accounting for 40 percent of the entire space, said Corvi.

“Men’s [apparel] is a growing phenomenon for us. In the past, Alpha [which is held four times a year] was made up of 40 percent juniors and 60 percent young men’s, and [high-end retailers] didn’t really notice it. Men’s lines on Premiere are targeting more contemporary stores and are aimed at the general public instead of just streetwear stores,” said Corvi. “Overall, men’s is moving toward a more high-end contemporary look — cleaned-up clothing with a tighter fit.”

Ed Hardy merchandise — women’s and men’s — occupies about 50 booths on Premiere and will host a buyers’ lounge during the October show. Other special events include “Order the Cure,” a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, to which participating manufacturers will donate $1 for every order written. Michael and Paula Hyman, Sharon Sheppard, Kathy Tucker and David Byrne are among the multiline sales reps supporting or sponsoring the cause. AmericasMart will donate $5 to the American Cancer Society for every piece shown during Style Runway, Saturday night’s fashion show.

Children’s World on the 13th floor is currently more than 90 percent leased, said Hall, with 83 showrooms and more than 1,000 lines. A Kids’ Co-Op area of six showrooms, similar in layout to the NY/LA Co-Ops that opened last year, bows in October and includes toys, gifts and bedding, as well as apparel. Hall anticipates further growth in the category next summer, following the expansion of children’s to the 14th floor.

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