A Strong Showing for Buyers and Brands at Atlanta Apparel Market
Affording access to contemporary, young contemporary, ready-to-wear, footwear and fashion accessories, Atlanta Apparel spelled success for both its exhibitors and attendees, who were excited to return to the trade-show environment. Bringing to the AmericasMart Atlanta their most-promising labels, showrooms and exhibitors offered style options across seasons during the show, which was held Oct. 12–16. Buyers were met with goods in Immediates, Holiday and Winter, and Spring and Resort, as they sought goods to refresh their inventory, prepare for the post-Thanksgiving buying spree and position themselves ahead of schedule for the coming year.
“I placed orders for sweaters, tops—all the things—dresses and Holiday apparel. I preordered some Spring things that I thought would be good to come in after January. I filled up on some Black Friday buys. Lots of P.O.s,” said Abby Payne, who has been in the business since 2000 and is the owner of the Knoxville, Tenn., Josie’s Boutique in addition to a beauty salon and Little Josie’s Boutique—her store’s children’s counterpart. “I love Atlanta because it is about a 3½-hour drive from my home so I hit that market four to five times a year.”
Exhibitors were also feeling the momentum of retailers who were ready to shop and buy. Marty Rose, agent and distributor for All Black Footwear, reported interest in Immediates, Holiday and Spring. With wholesale price points averaging $70, Rose mentioned that most buyers who visited the All Black booth wrote Spring orders, but there was another noticeable trend during this October market.
“In general, there was an interest in more dressy, which you’ve been hearing. We didn’t sell too much dressy until a couple of months ago, and people were trying to grab whatever they could get,” Rose explained. “Half of the orders had dressy on them. A third of my orders were Immediates for whatever people could get right away because they were desperate for Fall goods that other people couldn’t deliver or that they had underbought.”
At D’Element Style, founder Doris D’Angelo reported that buyers were searching for unique pieces. With wholesale pricepoints ranging from $88 to $300, D’Angelo represents 20 brands including CeliaB, Clyde, De Loreta and Scarlett Poppies. Her clientele caters to the 25-60-year-old set. D’Angelo noted that the buyers who stopped by hailed from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia locals, and they were ready to buy.
“None of my brands are typical. People are really looking for different and that is why we’re doing so well,” D’Angelo said. “They were much more willing to try new things. As vendors, or as reps and showrooms, we shouldn’t be afraid to have new and interesting product.
On the buyer side, general manager Jackie Wright, who works with 29-year-old The Willow Tree, a family-owned Alabama operation founded by Kim Kidd, was searching for goods to suit the varied range of customers—from 20-somethings to 80-year-old women—that shop the retailer’s two locations, one in Centre, Ala., and the other in Gadsden, Ala. Placing orders for Immediates, Holiday and Spring, Wright noted that the boutique’s retail price points range from $25 to $200. As a destination that seeks to have something for every shopper, The Willow Tree mixes fast-fashion items that wholesale between $15 and $25 with higher-cost, premium-branded pieces.
“For Fall and Holiday we have bought more dressy apparel—more glitter, more sequins. Purple was a color we purchased a good bit of. Purples and pink—of course, we always buy pink,” Wright said. “We were looking for things across the board. We were looking for some things to go ahead and try to get in before Christmas and also be on the front end of Spring shipping, too.”
Sales manager Cody Weaver, who represented Dolce Vita, mentioned that buyers wanted to know what products they could receive immediately due to supply-chain challenges that are affecting inventory. Seeing a large push for Spring goods, Weaver also noted that there were a lot of orders for the first quarter of season.
“Two of the biggest trends that are new would be white Western boots and wooden clogs,” Weaver said. “They are buying boots and sneakers and all the same stuff we’ve been selling for the last two years, but those are the two that stood out.”
Thinking about the Atlanta Apparel experience that the Dolce Vita team had, Weaver noted an exciting milestone achieved during the show.
“We had our biggest regional show in our history,” said Weaver. “It wasn’t quite Coterie, it wasn’t quite Vegas—we always have big shows there—but for a regional show it was our biggest ever.”