Monday, November 30, 2009

Trade Shows 101

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

This January during the New York International Gift Fair (Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2010), Baby & Kids’ Associate Editor Ashley Trent will lead the new buyer orientations. Ashley will answer questions, discuss the market and help new buyers make the most of their show.

The latest event for Ashley, who also writes for Giftware News and Fancy Food & Culinary Products, got the Baby & Kids editors thinking about what advice we’d offer show attendees. The overall theme: Go everywhere and see everything. Here are a few tips. Any advice you want to share? Leave your tips in the comments.

Wear comfortable shoes.
I learned this the hard way at my first trade show in Atlanta.

Explore all the divisions of the trade show you're attending, even if they don't pertain to your store. You never know what display ideas, color/texture trends or knowledgeable people you'll come across.

Look for deals. It’s just like shopping at the mall. If you can save 10 percent by ordering on a specific day, do it. Free freight is another perk showrooms and temps offer. Show management will likely have a list of these exhibitors and showrooms. No matter what the economy is like, there’s never an excuse not to get the best price.

Enjoy the show. It’s busy. It’s crowded. There’s never enough time. But, the new products and exciting designers are why you do what you do. Don’t let the stress of the economy or what may be happening at your store while you’re away decrease the value of the show.

Keep an open mind. Don’t just go to the same old showrooms. If I see something in a rep group’s window that has an interesting color, shape, whatever, I check it out. You don’t have to stay for a long time if nothing catches your eye, but you never know what you’ll find. I once found children’s towels and umbrellas in a Chicago showroom that carried mostly gourmet food (they drew me in with salsa samples).

Go into all of the showrooms. You never know what will be in the corner and where the next best thing will come from. Be sure to explore. A lot of showrooms will want to set up an appointment, but you might not have time. Take a little notebook so you can remember what you saw and make fast notes.

Socialize. Plan on attending some of the special events even if you are tired. You’ll be able to meet other retailers and maybe even get new ideas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mark Your Calendars For Kind + Jugend 2010

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last year, juvenile industry companies were presented with a dilemma: the ABC Kids Expo and Kind + Jugend were just one day apart. Located in Las Vegas and Cologne, Germany, respectively, the close show dates meant manufacturers and retailers had to hurry between events or choose one over the other. In 2010, Kind + Jugend officials announced, no such travel overlap will occur. The Kind + Jugend show will take place September 16-19, 2010, in Cologne, and the ABC Kids Expo will be October 10-13, 2010, in Las Vegas.

In a press release from Kind + Jugend, Mike Curry, creative director for Bumbleride Strollers said “in the past it has been incredibly difficult to split time between those two shows especially for smaller companies as key employees in our company were forced to be present at both events. I look forward to the separation of the shows next year.” Similar sentiments were shared by Jeff Cornelison, executive vice president of international for Kids II: “We certainly appreciated the time gap between the two major shows. Exhibitors now can use their corporate booth design at both events. It will also make it far easier to properly staff those two major trade shows. We expect to see more fellow North Americans at Kind + Jugend based on those date changes.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pantone Spring 2010 Color Forecast

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Talk to enough children’s apparel designers and you’ll notice a trend: they look to the runways of New York, Pair and Milan for design and color inspiration. Pantone, meanwhile, does the same. Looking to fashion and deign, color trend reports are a guiding force for designers and retailers. Here’s a look at the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2010.

The top colors for women’s fashion for spring 2010 are:

PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise
PANTONE 18-1661 Tomato Purée
PANTONE 16-1543 Fusion Coral
PANTONE 16-3320 Violet
PANTONE 16-1219 Tuscany
PANTONE 12-0642 Aurora
PANTONE 18-3945 Amparo Blue
PANTONE 12-1107 Pink Champagne
PANTONE 17-0627 Dried Herb
PANTONE 15-0513 Eucalyptus

According to this season’s report, vibrant brights add a sense of excitement to the palette, especially when set against practical neutrals that provide a safety net for cautious consumers.

Spring and summer naturally evoke feelings of calm ocean waters and tranquil beach vacations in cool, vibrant, tropical Turquoise. This soothing hue from the blue-green family conjures feelings of escape, especially when paired with Amparo Blue. With more warmth than the typical spring navy, this particular shade of blue is extremely appealing because of its brighter, more energetic attitude. Like the scent of a blossoming flower, Violet lends a romantic air to the warm-weather palette. This intriguing purplish hue is a distinctive addition to any wardrobe.

Yellow has made its mark on fashion and spring will further this trend with gleaming Aurora. Reminiscent of the first glimpse of yellow as the sun begins to rise over the horizon, this shimmering, slightly greenish yellow adds a bold infusion. Energy continues to surge throughout the warmer hues, leading to provocative Fusion Coral. This inviting orange connects directly to tangy Tomato Purée, this season’s classic red. Pair it with Turquoise for a retro look.

Thoughtful, cautious neutrals provide a dependable backbone to the brights of spring. Kick back and enjoy the bubbly luxury of Pink Champagne. This delicate, wispy tint is the season’s newest neutral. The melding of Pink Champagne, Tomato Purée and Amparo Blue is a refreshing take on the classic springtime combination of red, white and blue.

Three additional neutrals round out the palette. Tuscany, a warm beige hue, provides the perfect backdrop and works well as a solid base with dynamic accents like Fusion Coral or Violet. Dried Herb is the ultimate green neutral, pairing well with all other colors. Ideal for bigger ticket items, cool Eucalyptus is the eternal, practical gray. Choose this nuanced neutral and add brightly colored exclamation points in shoes, jewelry and handbags.

For more information about the report and to read about Pantone’s other color resources, visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

5 Things I Love About Atlanta Apparel

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the October Atlanta Apparel Market at AmericasMart. I was really looking forward to my trip because I love Atlanta, and AmericasMart has always proved to be a wonderful source of inspiration. While the focus of the entire market is on apparel, visitors to Children’s World on the 13th floor will see more than apparel. Furniture, gifts, maternity lines and toys all offer resources for cross merchandising your store. Many of the apparel companies you see in the October/November apparel article are available in AmericasMart, and I found them with the help of showroom managers and rep groups.

Here are a few things I love about Atlanta’s AmericasMart and the Apparel Market:

1. The People: This goes without saying, the people of AmericasMart and its showrooms are beyond helpful and always willing to share their insights. Harriett Smith of Miss Harriett & Co. and I spoke for nearly an hour about her lines, changes in the market and how she works with retailers to help them curate their stores.

2. The Variety: While I was in Miss Harriett’s showroom, the variety of lines available in AmericasMart was evident. I spoke with Meghan Hampton and Mai-Lis Bahr of Polka Dot Tot Couture about their traditional line of apparel with a special collar to keep tops clean, and I previewed the Right Bank Babies line, a smart line of contemporary, trendy children’s clothes. Both lines, different in style, can appeal to the same young mother and have their places in the children’s market. Traditional and contemporary do not have to fight against each other. Likewise, the showrooms in AmericasMart offer apparel that span trends. Connie Todd, the subject of our last retailer profile, shared with us that she too likes Atlanta for this very reason -- a mix of traditional apparel with a healthy dose of contemporary.

3. The Knowledge: I had a chance to sit down with Larry Lucas of the Larry Lucas Showroom. Having been both a retailer and a rep group owner, Larry is a valuable resource for retailers looking for the right mix of children’s products and manufacturers who can rely on his product expertise. Prior to our sit down, Larry took part in a panel discussion about the industry with retailers Nancy Jackson and Diane Bailey. Together, the three answered questions from an inquisitive audience and happily shared their knowledge with other retailers.

4. The Other 12 Floors: Children’s World is just one floor, but children’s products can pop up in the most unexpected places. In fact, I found swimwear from Snapper Rock on a temporary floor. Tara Tuschunski King, AmericasMart media relations senior manager, explained to me as we toured Building 3 that Children’s World the brand is expanding beyond Children’s World the floor. AmericasMart has found children’s merchandise in furniture and gift showrooms, and encourages buyers to explore the market beyond the 13th floor. Beyond Building 3, children's products are available in the gift and home showrooms of the other AmericasMarts buildings.

5. The Product Mix: You can get everything in Atlanta. Showroom upon showroom is filled with more than just apparel. Carolina Baby, for example, carries Boon high chairs, Dandelion recycled tableware and Kee-Ka layette. Furniture from Green Frog Art and bedding from Doodlefish are available alongside accessories from Fashion Angels and shirts for mom from PeaceLoveMom.

The next Apparel Market takes place January 21-25, and the next Gift & Home Furnishings Market is just days before on January 6-13.