AMERICASMART IS COUNTING ON THE DEBUT OF A-LINE TO PULL IN RETAILERS FROM ACROSS THE REGION.

Despite uncertain times, AmericasMart Apparel is aggressively targeting buyers with bold initiatives. With a new twice-yearly juried show, AmericasMart hopes to lure hot new lines and new buyers that will catapult Atlanta from regional mart to international fashion center.

Officials said the timing is right. With the soft economy, retailers are cutting back on travel, making fewer buying trips to New York.

“We’ve come far enough with our product mix and reputation, to offer our customers a high-end show with hot lines, some European resources they usually find only in New York,” said Peg Canter, general manager of AmericasMart Apparel.

Officials are banking on the debut of A-Line, slated for April 11-15, to take the Mart to a new level, with lines never before seen in Atlanta, including ones that appear at the Coterie and other New York shows.

Product will include women’s ready-to-wear and sportswear, with high-end accessories accounting for around 25 percent of the show. A new shoe gallery will feature boutique lines.

A-line will run consecutively with regularly scheduled women’s and children’s markets during April and October shows. It will not replace or interfere with shows in January, June or August, which will proceed as scheduled.

The new show allows the Mart to continue targeting buyers beyond the Southeast, an effort that began several years ago. Officials have visited numerous Midwest stores in recent weeks, to lure key retailers that don’t shop Atlanta, or that go to New York exclusively.

“Our goal is to bring in 300 new stores with this new product,” Canter said. “We want a new audience, but we don’t want to just divide the pie one more time. We think buyers should still go to New York, it’s the hub of the fashion industry, but we want to eliminate the need for so many New York buying trips.”

Lines are only eligible for A-Line that have not shown in Atlanta for at least one year, to avoid conflicts with existing permanent showroom reps. However, reps can agree to release a resource to A-Line.

Permanent tenants at AmericasMart expect the show to boost business generally in the building.

“It’s a fantastic idea, that should bring in the sharpest customers in the Southeast,” said Dan Strauss, principal at Dan Strauss Apparel, a multiline high-end sales firm with an Atlanta showroom. “The new vendors will also give us a chance to find new lines.”

After the events of Sept. 11 disrupted New York shows and postponed New York’s Coterie show, the Atlanta Mart was flooded with phone calls from New York exhibitors looking for space to show goods. At the October market, officials quickly put together New Collections on Nine, an impromptu show, as a response to exhibitors’ requests.