MARKET CONVERGENCE

Byline: Georgia Lee

AmericasMart is online and on the air, with a business-to-business e-commerce site and a new on-site radio show, both making their debut in this market.
Buyers will now be able to purchase goods online at AmericasMart.com. The Web site, launched two years ago as an information/advertising vehicle, has already generated heavy traffic, and of the right kind. Of over 850,000 hits in January, 47,000 were registered buyers, said officials.
By now, all registered buyers who have attended AmericasMart within the past few years (between 250,000 and 400,000 people) should be equipped with user ID numbers that allow them to purchase wholesale items online. (The numbers were mailed to legitimate buyers in January.)
Buyers seeking assistance with online shopping can turn to a new AmericasMart.com center, in suite 2200 in the Merchandise Mart, 240 Peachtree Street, NW. The room, designed to humanize the e-commerce experience, is equipped with a huge wall-sized Web site display and provides a warm, cozy setting, and helpful assistants.
Approximately 50 apparel showrooms will offer lines online and fulfill orders, with the assistance of AmericasMart’s customer service teams. Participating apparel showrooms include Ambrosia & Co., Helen Frushtick Furs, Leib & Associates, Michelle Harrison and Sheppard & Tucker. About 500 hundred participating showrooms are offering product online from the Merchandise Mart, the Gift Mart and the Apparel Mart.
“Initially, buyers can place reorders and shop in between markets,” said Joe Farrugia, president, AmericasMart.com. “Eventually, we’ll integrate market events, making it easier for buyers to buy online while at market.”
Buyers can also sit in on a new radio show during the March market. WGUN radio personalities Rik Ducar and Dan Mullis will now broadcast live during markets from a new home at 9N315 in AmericasMart.
The two cohost “The Style Hour!” with Rik Ducar and Dan Millis each Monday from 4 to 5 p.m. on WGUN, 1010 AM. Past shows have included guests such as Kenneth Cole and Nicole Miller, as well as call-in advice and discussion on style for both men and women.
Ducar is a former sales representative with Morgan Gaffney’s multiline sales firm. Both men have retail backgrounds.
With a permanent presence in the mart, the two will host shows during each women’s and men’s market, in addition to the weekly show.
The first mart broadcast will be April 1 at 11 a.m., with designer Michael Simon as guest. All market attendees are invited to the show and the kickoff festivities. The event, “Radio Days: The Style Hour Grand Opening Celebration,” will be held Friday, March 30, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will include complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
Future broadcasts will also be featured on Freshwav.com and on AmericasMart.com. The Style Hour! is in negotiations for national syndication.
Several major new lines are bowing at this market.
Kenar, the popular sportswear line that closed in 1998, is resurfacing at Ambrosia & Co., booth 9N104.
Garfield & Marks bought the Kenar name last fall. Under a new holding company, GM Design Group, the company now produces Kenar, as well as Garfield & Marks and Womyn.
Hoping to build on Kenar’s cachet and brand awareness, the new better-price line is “modern, contemporary clothing,” said JoAnn Langer, president and chief executive officer.
“We’re primarily targeting a woman who is building her wardrobe and her life, who wants new things season-to-season,” she said. But while this up-and-coming woman wants up-to-the-minute fashion, she also demands comfort.
“Today’s woman may want a cool, groovy look, but she wants to be able to move,” said Langer. Kenar is a misses’ fit, but with more body-consciousness than Garfield & Marks. Fabrics include stretch gabardine, tropical-weight wool and stretch pleather.
The fall line includes three deliveries; it includes small abstract prints, and textures including camel hair and pleather.
Wholesale prices range from $100 to $125 for jackets, $50 to $65 for skirts and $65 to $75 for pants. Like Garfield & Marks, Kenar will have an in-stock replenishment program. The company projects first-year volume of $20 million.
Teenflo, Paris, will show for the first time outside of New York and Los Angeles at Lee Budden, 12S116A. The 25-year-old Teenflo line is well established in Canada, with 150 accounts and two Montreal retail stores. With the new Atlanta presence, the company will extend its U.S. penetration and offer more goods tailored to Southeast climates.
The name Teenflo is misleading, said Marcel LaFrance, North American sales director. “People think its teen-oriented, but the name is actually a combination of the owners’ wives names — Martine and Florence,” he said.
At opening bridge price points, ranging from $90 to $210, Teenflo is a 120-piece collection. Around 20 styles are basics, including bottoms and jackets in stretch polyester and cotton fabrics. Trendy items, such as camel cashmere or pleather jackets, are added to the basics each season.
The fall line includes vintage Forties-inspired looks and luxury fabrics such as cashmere and wool/silk blends. Teenflo has a distinctive personality, but the line could be compared with Theory, Tahari and DKNY in price and styling, said LaFrance.
Donna Morgan launches a new bridge social occasion line, Morgan McFeeters at Arnold Helman, 9E110. The new 100-piece division is a departure from the Donna Morgan line, which also includes eveningwear.
“Donna Morgan is a better collection aimed at middle America, while this line is more citified and fashion savvy,” said Kathleen McFeeters, co-owner of Donna Morgan. McFeeters said the new line was created in response to requests from stores.
“There’s plenty of young, contemporary dressing, covered by Laundry and ABS, and plenty of beaded gowns from lines such as Carmen Marc Valvo, but not much in between. We’re a glamorous, sophisticated social occasion line,” said McFeeters.
At wholesale prices from $98 to $350, the line is the company’s first entry into the bridge market. Long dresses make up 40 percent of the line, with evening separates as the remainder. Key items include lace beaded skirts and pants, silk charmeuse blouses, metallic leather jackets, bustiers in ostrich feathers or leather and beaded sweaters.
“Separates can be put together to work for a country club or a nightclub,” said McFeeters.

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