AmericasMart Apparel has pinpointed three drivers responsible for the resurgence in growth it’s experiencing — prom and social occasion, young contemporary and its Premiere section — and all are targets for new initiatives at shows this year.

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


AmericasMart is also co-locating and co-staging its September Fall Gift & Home Market with its October Apparel Market for the first time, thanks to the growing trend of gift and apparel stores cross-merchandising their product mixes. All three of the AmericasMart buildings will be open Oct. 14 to 16. The apparel show itself is Oct. 13 to 17. According to Lori Kisner, senior vice president for apparel at AmericasMart, apparel stores already make up 30 percent of Gift & Home Show attendance.

For the August Prom Market, AmericasMart is opening nearly 20,000 square feet on the 12th floor of the Apparel Mart to showcase the hundreds of new lines coming into the market, which is a more than 50 percent expansion for the social occasion category, said Kisner.

“We have new [social occasion] lines coming in and we have a waiting list of about 20 companies for our 10th floor,” she said.

The Mart is opening up the 12th floor so that companies can exhibit in showrooms during the August show, but the Mart expects some to sign for permanent space, she added.

In addition, the Southeastern Independent Formalwear Association of tuxedo manufacturers will exhibit at the show for the first time. SIFA has reserved 50 booths on the 12th floor.

“We get buyers from every state in the U.S. [for prom and social occasion],” Kisner said, “and we even get retailers from Europe and Latin America.”

She added that the Mart also plans to expand with more bridal as part of its effort to give its showrooms three strong markets a year: August, October and April.

“Bridal has a lot of potential for growth,” Kisner continued.

According to The NPD Group, the average cost of a wedding decreased 10.2 percent in 2009, but bounced back with a 22.9 percent increase in 2010.

The Mart’s young contemporary category this year is up 53 percent over 2010, Kisner said. Higher-end accessories brands are also doing well because of product crossover in stores. As a result, the Mart launched at its April show a 5,000-square-foot Premiere Young Contemporary section and a 2,500-square-foot Premiere Fashion Accessories section in Premiere. The latter will increase to about 4,000 square feet at the Aug. 18 to 22 show. Of the 85 booths in Premiere, Young Contemporary has 35, including brands Judith March, III Jeans and RYU, while Fashion Accessories has 22, including Ada Handbags, Fourth Daughter and Ivanka Trump.

Denim is another area in which AmericasMart has seen strong growth. According to NPD, sales of women’s jeans at retail finished 2010 with a 2.6 percent increase, but sales surged nearly 20 percent in the three months that ended February 2011.

“The world of denim is huge for us because sales are doing so well, and we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of brands we have in showrooms,” Kisner said.

The Mart lost some showrooms in late 2008, but started getting increases in 2010.

“Now we’re very near to being at our healthy level,” she said.

Brands opening showrooms include Silver Jeans, Ravel, Desigual and CP Shades.

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