Buyers Take to Trend Array in Atlanta

Bold looks lead fall and holiday ordering.

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ATLANTA — Dresses, especially shiftdresses, headed the fall shopping lists of retailers at the Atlanta Apparel show, held here at the Atlanta Apparel Mart for four days ending June 12.

Other top fall trends at the show were oversize jackets and blazers, layered sportswear, layered accessories, mix and matching colors and prints and colored fake fur.

Buyers focused on fall and holiday, but also filled in on dresses for summer. Even though it’s been unusually hot this June in the South, specialty store retailers said that hasn’t seemed to affect sales. June and July are typically slower, but sales are staying healthy, they said.

The up-and-down economic climate apparently hasn’t affected fashion trends, either, said Kaye Davis, executive director of fashion, AmericasMart.

“The collections and brands are staying positive, fresh and colorful,” she said. “Fashion is not minimalist.”
The Apparel Mart’s June show is slower and shorter than its other seasonal events. Nevertheless, several showroom owners said traffic was busier than they expected.

Lisa Adams, president of Therapy w/Lisa Adams Inc., said the shows first two days were “phenomenal. People are buying dresses, color and prints.”

Tammy Flowers and Julie Cox, owners of Mia Moda Boutique in Birmingham, Ala., booked at least 75 percent of fall and holiday here, focusing on long skirts, one-piece jumpers, muted Southwest Aztec prints, leggings, oversize brim hats, colored fake fur and bright colors, especially reds and gold. Veronica M, they said, is a favorite brand because it will customize styles and prints for one-of-a-kind looks.

“We love to find things that are different for our customers,” said Flowers. “We’ll dig and dig for something that’s edgy but not too edgy.”

Sales this year, she said, are about 15 percent ahead of 2010.

Kelly Rozier, owner of Indigeaux Denim Bar in Pensacola, Fla., booked most of her fall and holiday here, buying shiftdresses, novelty tops in silk and silk blends, puffy jackets and full coats.

Peggy Lowe, owner of Tads Two in Tylertown, Miss., booked about 20 percent of her fall, filling in gaps for dresses and accessories, as well as oversize jackets and layered sportswear.

“We’re buying a lot of color — red, gold and brights — and we’re seeing a lot of animal prints, which we’re buying as accents,” she said.

As for dresses, Lowe added, “I have stayed with sundresses for young women, but now everyone wants dresses.”

While the economy and the hot and dry weather are affecting her business, Lowe said her sales are still slightly up.

Despite the iffy economy, Dale Augenstein opened a 2,000-square-foot store, Caroline’s Boutique, in Hilton Head, S.C., this month. Augustein, who owns a seafood restaurant in the same center as the store, said the restaurant had record sales in 2010 and is experiencing a 20 percent increase this year.

“I’m impressed by the sales growth of the tourism industry [there],” he said. “The business climate on Hilton Head is very good.”

Augenstein said he bought 75 to 80 percent of his fall at the show, and filled in on summer items, including sundresses and casual cocktail wear.

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