ATLANTA — After ending 2015 on a positive note, retailers at the Atlanta Apparel Market said they feel good about 2016 and several are increasing their buys for summer and fall.
The four-day show was held at the Atlanta Apparel Mart and ended Sunday.
Asked if they think the upcoming presidential election will have an adverse effect on fall sales, Julie Cox, co-owner of Mia Moda Boutique in Birmingham, Ala., said, “Our past history shows it does affect sales, but business picks right back up afterward,” while Charlie Brown, owner of the Karlie brand, said that’s not true of the Millennial shoppers who buy his young, contemporary brand. “They’re always optimistic.”
Most retailers shopped for spring and summer and began to explore fall. Julie Routenberg, owner of Potpourri in Atlanta, will increase her fall merchandise by five to eight percent over 2015. Despite warm fall weather, she said, “We had a good fall, and we’ve done really well with our accessories, especially handbags, scarves and jewelry.”
Jocelyn Churchman, owner of Finch in Charlottesville, Va., increased her buy and said, “I feel good about spring. There’s more of a selection.”
Mary Sullivan Harper, senior vice president of leasing at AmericasMart, said the market attracted more stores from out of territory and retailers new to the show. Strong categories included the Mart’s Premiere section, denim, emerging designers, accessories and shoes.
Caron Stover, vice president of apparel trade show sales, said the temporary exhibitor area was up 25 percent over the show a year ago and 25 percent of exhibitors were new.
The three main summer trends, said Morgan Ramage, fashion manager at AmericasMart, were sun-bleached pastels; nautical looks, such as high waists, pleats, and red, white and blue, and tropicals, including off-the-shoulder, ruffles, and bright florals. Other trends included fringed handbags, sculpted earrings and paired bracelets.
Retailers cited blue and white stripes, white, romantic Bohemian and Sevenites looks. They named graphic designs in knits, dresses, skirts and shorts, and texture as key fall trends.
Potpourri’s Routenberg said she would review fall here and in New York, then return in April to buy. Her 2015 sales increased slightly, she said.
Betty Spain, owner of Bella Rose in Lexington, Ky., said her 2015 sales increased three percent and January business was good despite the store being closed for two days due to snow. She filled in on items for spring, but focused on early fall, which she expected to see a small increase. She booked jackets and sweaters, as well as slacks and suits that can be worn as separates. Early spring sellers included lightweight cashmere and white shirtings.
Finch’s Churchman bought spring and summer, such as fringe in sweaters, handbags and wraps, rompers, white jeans, and jewelry such as lariat, layered and light wood necklaces, and semiprecious stones.
Her 2015 sales were strong, and she’s optimistic about 2016. “Retail has been steadily improving and we’re an established business,” she said.
Mia Moda’s Cox named florals from huge to tiny as a top summer trend and jewelry as a major seller.
“Nearly everyone who walks in our store buys jewelry,” she added.
Sales at Mia Moda were up seven percent last year and in January rose about 20 percent, said Cox. She and partner Ben Odom were finishing spring and summer ordering and starting fall. Odom added, “A lot of the trends we’re seeing for summer will translate into fall.”