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.

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