Leather, Denim Lead Atlanta Buying

Buyers focused on leather for their late fall orders at the four-day Atlanta Apparel Market that ended on Sunday.

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ATLANTA — Buyers focused on leather for their late fall orders — jackets, accents on shirts and sweaters, and leather-coated jeans — at the four-day Atlanta Apparel Market that ended on Sunday.

Important trends also included denim in dark shades, body-fitting dresses, leggings and tunics, lace and metallic accents, graphic T-shirts and lightweight cashmere sweaters. Some retailers also bought festive party dresses and sequined tops for holiday.

While buyers primarily shopped for immediates, late fall and holiday, they also checked out resort. Shannon Kotze, owner of The Bilt-House, said she is opening a fourth store here in two weeks, and bought spring and summer merchandise for that unit. She’s opening another store here in late August or early September.

Retailers also reported stronger sales in April and May as spring took off. So far this year, they say sales are even with a year ago or slightly up.

The June market is traditionally slow, but exhibitors were pleased with the turnout. Freddy Simon of Freddy Simon & Associates, said, “We’ve been pleasantly surprised. It’s been one of the best June shows.”

Caron Stover, managing director of temporary exhibits at AmericasMart, said her area had 35 percent more booths than at the June 2013 show, adding that “Young contemporary continues to grow.”

Also, the Accessories Council exhibited on the temporary floor, marking the first time the Council has been at a regional show. The 11 Accessories Council members showed a wide range of product, including jewelry, purses, belts and fur items. Companies included Heet, Randolph Eyewear, Finders Key Purse and Glamourpuss. Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council, said the group’s presence “introduces our lines to new markets before making a huge commitment. We’ve been ecstatic with our partnership with the MAGIC show, so we’re partnering with the [Atlanta] Mart.”

Anna Williams, buyer and manager of Bohemian, based in Columbia, S.C., booked dark denim in heavy distressed looks, Modal jeans and leather-coated jeans, as well as body-fitting and baby-doll dresses, graphic T-shirts, pullover sweaters, jackets and lightweight cashmere sweaters.

“We carry a lot of jeans in a lot of styles,” she said, adding that her top-five brands are AG Jeans, Seven For All Mankind, Hudson Jeans, Paige Denim and Citizens of Humanity. Other brands she booked included Free People, Wild Fox swimwear and Sanctuary.

Jan Stanley, owner of Lady J in Greenville, S.C., booked immediate goods, as well as transitional into fall. Her fall sportswear trend picks include leggings and tunics, and a lot of leather. Lines included French Dressing Jeans, Renaur and Luii. She also booked holiday dresses, pants and jackets.

Check Hall, co-owner of Palmettoes in Hilton Head, S.C., booked holiday dresses, pants and sequined tops, and dressy and casual resort apparel.

“Because we’re in a resort area, we look for more color,” he said.

He booked Donna Morgan, Julie Brown, Muse, Peace of Cloth, Ivy & Blu, Drew and Jackett.

The Bilt-House’s Kotze ordered jeans and tops for jeans, leather bags, suede and leather jackets, dresses and handbags from brands including Cino, Bailey 44, Hale Bob, Tracy Reese, Johnny Was and Christopher Blue. She increased her buy about 25 percent to stock the new store.

Lori Kisner, senior vice president of apparel at AmericasMart, said the Mart has been investing in its retail services team by adding staff to find new retailers and those who don’t come to the Mart, visit them and invite them to the Atlanta market.

People are going into business again, and we need to find them,” she said.

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