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ATLANTA — Coming off a strong fall and holiday season, retailers were in the mood to buy some spring fill-ins, summer and fall at the Atlanta Apparel Market that ended its five-day run Feb. 2 at AmericasMart.

Karen Allegretti, owner of Market Earth in Ft. Myers, Fla., said her fourth-quarter sales increased about 75 percent and that she had to reorder multiple times.

“We feel the economy is expanding because people have more disposable income,” Allegretti said.

Jess Wehrmann, owner of Monkee’s of Blowing Rock in North Carolina, said her fall sales were up significantly.

“Our average sale was up, so people were buying more per sale,” she said.

Showroom owners reported strong buying activity and Amy Hill of the Amy J. Hill Showroom said it was her best January show to date.

Mary Sullivan Harper, senior vice president of leasing at AmericasMart, said, “Several large retailers here have large open-to-buys because of a strong selling season. This show is really solid and the energy is very positive.”

Also, AmericasMart has opened several new showrooms since October and the temporary exhibits area increased 15 percent over a year ago, with ready-to-wear, accessories and young contemporary the strongest categories.


Fashion celebrity Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame added excitement at the show. Clad in a three-piece, camou-illusion tweed suit by Zara, he walked the show in search of his favorite trends. His finds included a Sweet Sinnamon engineered-print bouclé dress coat; new looks in denim from Dex Jeans, including flair legs, ombré and light washes, and printed denim; sunglasses by Quay Australia; a red, white and blue dress by Camilyn Beth and a recycled “eco-chic” cork clutch bag by Uniquely-European Fashion & Design.

“I’m seeing tons of lace and there are new ways of doing it,” he said. “There’s a lot of fringe, tassels and pom-poms, and there’s a lot of great jewelry, too. I’m even seeing tassels, fringe and neons in jewelry.”

He also cited vintage looks from the Sixties — floral prints, shorts, jumpers and rompers, and new denim washes.

Other trends noted by Blake Rayon of the UnCommon Fashion showroom and Kaye Davis, vice president of fashion, included tribal prints, stretch linen, the colors orchid and pink, and Made in the USA.

Sarah Katsandris, owner of Forema in Ft. Myers, Fla., shopped mainly for summer. She bought short summer dresses with a focus on open backs; silk dresses, shorts and tops; denim in destroyed and boyfriend styles, and overalls in chambray and denim. Her key lines included Black Swan, Wildfox and BB Dakota.

Katsandris said she increased her buy because she has a new store and her other two stores and online business are growing.

“I feel good about 2015,” she said. “I think it will be our best year yet.”

Monkee’s Wehrmann booked 40 percent of her fall here, including cashmere from White + Warren; gloves, hats and scarves from Echo; Luii coats, and other apparel from Tyler Boe, Alice & Trixie, Bella Dahl, Karlie, and Lilla P. Her top colors for fall are gray, burgundy and military green. She also filled in on short summer dresses in bright colors.

Allegretti focused on summer dresses and lightweight tops from brands that were either recycled, eco-friendly, artisan, Fair Trade or Made in America. Those included Sanctuary; Kut from the Kloth; Peace, Love, World; and Lola & Sophie.

Ashley Adams, owner of Lucca in Tuscaloosa, Ala., said her fourth quarter was “great,” with December sales up 25 to 30 percent. Her current spring merchandise is “selling like crazy, even though it’s cold outside,” she added.

Adams booked more than 40 percent of her fall here, focusing on classic looks with an edge from brands such as Mink Pink, Somedays Lovin’ and Miss Me.

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