SONGS FOR SPRING
Byline: Georgia Lee
Retailers and exhibitors were so abuzz during the April market that one could almost hear choruses of “Happy Days Are Here Again” ringing through the halls. The energetic show put people in mind of the boom times of the Eighties.
“April was our best market in seven years,” said Peg Canter, general manager, AmericasMart Apparel.
Canter said that recent marketing to outside territories had paid off, with more Midwestern buyers in attendance. Saturday night parties, on each floor of the building, have also added excitement, extending the action. Although officially open until 8 p.m., some showrooms now stay open till 9:30 or later, as long as people are in a buying mood.
Retailers were buoyed by a brisk spring business, based on a robust economy and high consumer confidence. Their bullishness was further helped by a strong fall fashion direction that includes color, animal prints, leather, pleather and suede.
Buyers are anticipating a return of the suit, in modern shapes and fabrics. With embellishment continuing, in everything from beading to fringe to cutouts and stitching, buyers applauded a “return to fun fashion” that would give customers a reason to buy. Although market attendance was up only 2.5 percent from April 1999, orders were stronger, said exhibitors.
Canter said the attrition of specialty stores, so rampant in the early Nineties, had bottomed out, leaving strong retail survivors with good business and marketing skills. With an influx of new lines, such as Teenflo and Kenar, which debuted in April, AmericasMart seems to be luring more exhibitors to Atlanta for a piece of the action, she said.
Burns, a new opening-bridge-priced line, made a splash at the April market. Designer Karen Harman, former partner of Dana Buchman (of the Dana B & Karen line), designs Burns. A division of Kellwood, Burns takes its name from Bill Burns women’s suits, another Kellwood division. Related in name only, the two lines have completely different looks, said Harman.
Designed for women 35 to 50 — “grown-ups,” as Harman puts it — “Burns is bright, sexy, with a woman’s fit,” she said. The line debuted Saturday night during market at Sheppard/Tucker Inc., 9E108. Burns crosses many categories, from casual sportswear to updated career to day-into-evening wear.
At $130 to $228 wholesale, Burns is comparably priced with Anne Klein II, Garfield & Marks and Isda. Fabrics include lightweight stretch wool, iridescent taffeta, cotton stretch and cashmere. Fall color combinations include orange and camel, with novelty pieces such as “pedicure pants,” with an ankle zipper. The fall line will debut in 400 specialty accounts, including Nordstrom and Jacobson’s.
The June fall II market will offer a continuation of the looks that debuted in April. June is an important accessories show, with buyers looking to accessorize fall clothes they bought in April.
GUEST DESIGNER TIMMY WOODS BEVERLY HILLS
Guest designer Timmy Woods, president and designer of Timmy Woods Beverly Hills, a novelty handbag line, creates wearable art that appeals to collectors.
Timmy Woods bags are made of Acacia wood, indigenous to Southeast Asia. Woods sculpts and finishes the pale wood into hundreds of novelty shapes of varying themes. Wholesale prices range from $50 to $220, with a lower-price evening line of various materials including wires and beads priced around $36.
With around 200 active styles a season, approximately 20 pieces are “retired” each season to become limited-edition collector’s items, complete with platform stand and metal plate engraved with birthday and retirement dates.
“We’re niche marketers,” said the designer, a native of Beverly Hills. “We’re addressing mass collectors, with affordable prices.”
With each bag comes a certificate of authenticity and originality. Collectors can become Timmy Woods society club members, which entitles them to a bag signed by Woods.
Motifs run the gamut from best-selling holiday Santas to cars, boats and nature themes, as well as fashion pieces with fur and wood combinations.
Woods manufacturers in Beverly Hills, where she also has a 1,000-square-foot retail boutique.
With 1,600 accounts, including specialty stores and catalogs, Woods is in the process of launching a new Web site.
Woods also appears regularly on the Jupiter Shop Channel in Japan. The flamboyant Beverly Hills native regularly decks out in costume — angels and devils — for the DIVA awards at AmericasMart.
The Timmy Woods is carried by Tim Philbin, 8E112B.