First Atlanta Apparel of the Year Sees Pre-Pandemic Traffic
Exceeding expectations of show producers, the Feb. 2–6 edition of Atlanta Apparel at the AmericasMart in Atlanta saw buyer traffic that equaled January 2020 numbers. With visitors from 46 states, first-time buyers comprised 20 percent of those who attended the market.
“The brands were ready and eager to get to a market. We were getting great pre-registration numbers—we were tracking ahead the whole time—but you hold your breath until it happens,” said Caron Stover, AmericasMart vice president of leasing. “What we learned all through 2020, we were able to slowly start easing back into market with the permanent showrooms, more permanent showrooms in August, then we hosted our temps with them in October, so this we worked our way up to.”
Representing ethically made and sustainably manufactured goods, Kaela Kreysa of the Nashville, Tenn.–based Awake Collective noted that one trend that was ticking upward was mindful purchasing.
“Buyers seem to be significantly more aware of the impact of their purchasing these days. Buyers are really wanting sustainable and ethically made goods. They want to purchase from brands who serve a greater good in their community and have responsible ethics in their production or give-back programs,” Kreysa said. “Buyers loved purchasing jewelry and leather goods and seemed a little more hesitant to purchase shoes that weren’t comfort focused.”
Kreysa also mentioned that returning to an environment in which business could be conducted in person yielded a positive atmosphere.
“The energy was buzzing during this February apparel show. Buyers were so happy to be back and viewing collections in real life,” Kreysa said. “Brands and reps were excited to be conducting business face to face!”
One retailer that Kreysa connected with was Elitaire, which is based in Huntsville, Ala., and owned by Kayla Adams, who was shopping for a sophisticated clientele ages 30–50 who prefer classic pieces over trends. Buying for Fall, Adams placed orders and took notice of browns in chocolate and cinnamon for her boutique, which has retail price points typically falling under $200 except for special pieces.
“I really love those rich colors. I hate the word ‘trend’ and I try not to get trendy with our boutique. I try to make it very sophisticated,” Adams said. “If we go trendy, it would be a color or print, but I try to go with more-tailored, classic silhouettes with things that never go out of style and mix in a few trends here and there.”
Noting trends toward monochromatic pieces, Madison Simon, a third-generation co-owner of Gwynn’s in Mount Pleasant, S.C., saw pieces in mint green, dark green, light blues, grays and mauve. Simon hoped for a trend toward dressier styles as consumers emerge from their cocoons of loungewear.
“It looks like people are starting to shift a bit toward dressier, graduating from loungwear and the casual nature of Spring and Summer,” Simon said. “Hopefully people will be more inclined to dress up.”