The Top 10 Most Anticipated Trends for 2016 National Prom Market

Style expert Carson Kressley might not have attended his prom, but he sure does know a thing or two about what we can expect to see on dance floors and pageant stages this upcoming spring. The charming TV personality was the resident tastemaker at the 2015 WORLD OF PROM Market at AmericasMart Atlanta.

Carson scoured the Market in search of the best new looks and hottest trends for prom, pageant, quinceañera, homecoming and social occasion in 2016.

Bring a bit of Carson’s je ne sais quoi back to your store with these style suggestions inspired by the style expert’s favorite items from the 2015 national prom Market:



Fashionistas of a feather flock together. Feather details add a delicate whimsy and tons of movement to gowns. Look for them in a variety of colors on the skirts of both long and short styles.

Geometric Patterns

geometric patterns (6)

The WORLD OF PROM runway looked like the world’s most chic math class with geometric prints appearing throughout the show. Whether as an accent piece or the dominant design of the dress, these bold prints solve the equation for a memorable prom gown.


florals (3)

While a floral frock may be a mainstay for spring fashion collections, the look is a fresh for social occasion. The floral representations are as diverse as the blooms they portray ranging from printed fabrics, to appliques and beading.


metallics (3)

No spotlights are needed with these shiny and shimmery dresses. New shades such as rose gold, pewter and platinum join classic sparklers gold and silver. Bold ladies go head-to-toe shine while others use it as a show-stopping detail.


fringe (2)

The ready-to-wear fringe trend has made it to social occasion. When this dance-floor-friendly element is paired with posh fabrics and the right accessories, there is no doubt the look is just right for a special evening.


white, crop top

The wedding day is not the only opportunity for a show-stopping white gown. Youthful silhouettes, fun embellishments and party-ready accessories confirm that the wearer is going to the dance rather than going to the chapel.

Crop Tops

crop top, pastels

The crop top has been on trend for a while now and continues strong for 2016. Designers are updating the look with a crop top/cut outs hybrid that still shows some skin, but keeps the dress as one continuous piece.

1970s Glam

70s glam

Disco fever abounds with 1970s-inspired looks. Dancing queens make a statement with cut-outs, sparkles and party-ready pants-suits. Make sure the styling is modern to keep the look classy instead of costume.


new lace

Ladies are turning to geometric patterns in lieu of the traditional floral lace that has dominated the social occasion run way for the past few seasons. Blooms are used in a color-on-color technique that adds an interesting texture to gowns of all styles.


Pastels, lace

These sweet and feminine shades take it up a notch with head-turning elements. Crop tops, embellishments and even head-to-toe sequins in these heavenly hues yield modern looks that are perfect for spring celebrations.

The WORLD OF PROM market will take place from August 4-8.

Fall in Atlanta

AmericasMart re-envisions September Experience

Fall signals prime time for refreshing homes before the holidays and for selecting the perfect gifts for friends and family. Retailers can jump-start the holiday season by filling last-minute inventory, while designers can source all the elements for clients’ seasonal projects. It all depends on having the right products in place at the right time. That means shopping Atlanta in the fall.

AmericasMart’s Fall Home, Gift and Gourmet Market is evolving into an all-new buying experience scheduled for September 2016. The new Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift offers more services and newly imagined events, all timed within the business week for the greater convenience of retailers and designers.

Fall Design WeekThe re-envisioned concept celebrates and showcases AmericasMart’s design-driven Open Year Round showrooms. The showrooms – located throughout Buildings 1 and 2 – represent leading lines in case goods and upholstery, accessories, casual furnishings, lighting, area rugs, gift, gourmet, housewares, tabletop, outdoor living, holiday, floral and more.

“AmericasMart’s Open-Year-Round showrooms provide design and retail inspiration throughout the year,” says Dave Savula, executive vice president of Leasing. “The new Fall Design Week lets us showcase these lines to retailers and designers in a more relaxed environment while offering some additional amenities and opportunities to network.”

AmericasMart’s continued growth in designer attendance is also a factor in the Market redesign. “Our Market center has more design-driven resources than ever before,” Savula says. “The new September event lets us showcase those resources like never before with a buying and educational opportunity that serves designers when it is best for their business.”

AWH_PHOTO-0338Designer-focused programming will include taste-maker presentations, continuing education courses, industry networking opportunities and celebrations. It is set to be the must-attend event for the Atlanta, Georgia and Southeastern design communities.

The popular Atlanta Gourmet exhibitors will be showcased in a series of targeted events designed to spotlight the flourishing local food and restaurant scene and the resurgence of the category with gift retailers, especially for the holiday season.

AmericasMart’s Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift takes place Monday, September 19 through Friday, September 23, 2016. For more information, visit

Why Rugs? A Q&A with Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines_LOLOIWith the recent launch of the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines rug, pillow and throw collection with Loloi, we wanted to take a deeper look into rugs, and the design opportunities they afford.

We had a chance to catch up with Joanna and get her thoughts on designing with rugs, and why they are so crucial to a room.

-Why are rugs so important to the overall room design and aesthetics?
Rugs can change the feel of an entire space. They can tone down a colorful room, or bring a monochromatic room to life. Rugs are such a great design element because they bring in warmth and texture and have the ability to really anchor the furniture.

 What are some of the most important styling points to remember with rugs?
Rugs should cover a larger area than the space your furniture covers. So essentially, a living room rug should be large enough to fit underneath the couch and chairs, rather than in between them. A bedroom rug should be large enough to fit under the bed, and extend out on both sides with plenty of space.

 Do you feel rugs should blend in with a room, or define the space?
It depends on your style! If your furniture is neutral, it can be fun for your rug to be a show stopper. If your furniture is bold and tells a story of its own, a neutral rug that blends with the space will still add texture and an extra design element.

– What is your personal favorite kind of rug?
I don’t think I could ever choose just one. At the farm I gravitate toward neutrals, but a lot of our Fixer Upper clients appreciate a more bold choice. And honestly, I can appreciate both styles.

– Why did you feel this collection with Loloi was important?
It’s always been a challenge finding the perfect rug for a space, so this line has been a dream of mine for years. I wanted to curate a collection that makes the process easier for everyone. These Magnolia Home rugs are high quality and hand-woven. Each one is truly a work of art and I had so much fun putting the collection together!

10 Tips for Selling Toys from Dr. Toy

Stevanne Auerbach, Dr. Toy offers her top tips for retailers. New York Puzzle Company

  1. Understand the power of play. Be as expert as possible about play and toys, and select products that fit a wide range of children’s growth and developmental needs. Select items that can be enjoyed by the whole family, including seniors who also mentally ans socially benefit from games and puzzles.
  2. Tailor the best mix of products. Your products should represent the entire range of ages, community, and diversity. Toys sell to a broad range of customers who look for the best they can find and afford. You want your customers to feel confident they made the right choices of gifts that will be enjoyed by the recipients.
  3. Know your customers. Welcome them, and ask them to register as a “valued customer.” Email a monthly or quarterly newsletter, birthday club, and gift “wish lists” including birthdays, holidays, and vacation travel. You can find out what they want, and then do your best to provide those products. Your customers will appreciate this personalized approach.
  4. Enliven in-store experiences. Create a table or counter offering games and demos. Run special events to get customers more engaged in the store. They will keep returning if what you offer is unique, and not found anywhere else.
  5. Brand your store. Make your store more special by creating drawings for prizes, special sales, and promote monthly themes such as holidays, seasons, back-to-school, STEM learning, fantasy play, and nature.
  6. AuroraTrust your expertise. Grow your knowledge of play. Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being, and more people understand its importance. Expand upon your skills in business, marketing, and enriching everyday experiences.
  7. Contemplate community outreach. Your sponsorship of local charities, services, groups, or offering prizes for events, provides benefits and increases your store’s name recognition.
  8. Participate. As an essential member of the toy industry, join organizations like ASTRA, TIA and WIT. Read trade magazines, and sign up for the free, long-standing source of industry news, The Bloom Report.
  9. Train your staff. You want your staff to be welcoming, knowledgeable and helpful as they are your store’s best representatives to your customers and they reflect your personal and business values. Train your personnel about age-appropriate toys; stock your store with good choices; and be sure your staff understands developmental milestones, toy appropriateness, and can easily and courteously assist your customers.
  10. Offer a range of playthings. Include variety of toys for all ages and reasons such as active toys like balls, and cars, Frisbee and hula hoops; Creative toys like art kits, Colorforms, coloring books, crayons, Etch a Sketch, sketch pads, pens and puppets; Educational toys and games like books, science kits, STEM products, tech toys, Monopoly, Scrabble and various puzzles.


Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on play, toys, and children’s products. With 30 years of direct experience, Dr. Auerbach includes educationally oriented, developmental and skill building products from the best large and small companies in her four annual award programs. Many parents, teachers and toy buyers use Dr. Toy’s guidance in making selections.

2016 Best Toys are at AmericasMart Atlanta

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) recently announced its 2016 Best Toys for Kids award winners. We’re honored to have nearly all of the winners represented here at AmericasMart this week. Check out the list below and click the links to see where to find them at Market.

Diverse Marketing

Diverse Marketing at AmericasMart Atlanta

Looking to add toys to your product mix, but not sure where to start? Click here to see 10 tips from Stevanne Auerbach, a.k.a. Dr. Toy.

The 2016 Best Toys for Kids award winners are:

Active Play
Kidoozie Counting Pogo Jumper –  International Playthings
Slackers Ninjaline Intro Kit b4Adventure – Brand 44 LLC

Choose Your Own Category
Rock and Roll It! Piano – MukikiM Toys
Sneaky Cards – Gamewright, a division of Ceaco

Classic Play 0-7 Years
Rat-A-Tat Cat – Gamewright
WOW Flip ‘n’ Tip Fred – Reeves International, Inc.

Classic Play 8+ Years
Snap Circuits Jr. – Elenco Electronics
Rubik Cube 3×3 – Winning Moves 

Constructive Play 0-7 Years
Robot Engineer – Thames & Kosmos

Constructive Play 8+ Years
Geckobot – Thames & Kosmos

Creative Arts Play 3-7 Years
Craft-tastic Kindness Kit – Ann Williams
Fuzzeez Husky – The Orb Factory 

Creative Arts Play 8+ Years
Peacock Silk Painting – Hotaling/Djeco
Sew Mini Treats – Klutz

Early Play
SpinAgain – Fat Brain Toy Co.

Game Play 3-5 Years
Little Red Riding Hood – SmartGames
Balance Beans – ThinkFun 

Game Play 6+ Years
Happy Salmon – North Star Games 

Game Play 8+ Years
Dr. Eureka – Blue Orange Games

Learning Play
Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set – Learning Resources

Pretend – Doll Play
Folkmanis French Bulldog Puppet – Folkmanis Puppets

Pretend – Fantasy Play
The Irish Fairy Door – The Irish Fairy Door Company/License-2-Play 

Pretend – Role Play
Calico Critters Seaside Ice Cream Shop – International Playthings

Scientific Play
Hot Ice Crystals – Thames & Kosmos

You can read more about the awards here.

Retail Meets Design

By Christina O’Flaherty

Retail meets design in the most stylish manner during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®.

With the launch of ANTIQUES in Building 1, Floor 2 and DÉCOR | Light & Lifestyles in Building 1, Floor 8 as well as HIGH DESIGN® in Building 2, Floor 1 and HD Home in Building 1, Floor 1 there are more design-driven resources available in our temporaries than ever before.

This elevated aesthetic highlights the intersection of retail and design, where interior design is influencing retail and merchandising in a major way. The new Retail Meets Design vignettes, curated by the Southeast’s top retailers and interior designers in Building 1, Floor 14, Vignette Gallery, 14-D-9, showcase how easy incorporating these influences can be. Furniture, décor, entertaining, outdoor and other lifestyle categories come together effortlessly with high design pieces and antiques alike.

Curious how you can work antiques into your store? We asked Toma Clark Haines, chief executive diva of The Antiques Diva® & Co., to share some of her top tips for incorporating antiques into a design.

Is there a different process for buying antiques vs. bulk merchandise orders?
Yes, absolutely. If you see it and it’s what you’re looking for, you should buy it. It’s not going to be there forever. The one-of-a-kind element makes it a radically different process. Also, the proportions are not always going to be what you’re looking for. For example, an 18th century chest of drawers was built for the dimensions of that era. You buy antiques because you love the patina, the quality, and the story. You make the room work with the piece, not the piece work for the room.

What is one key sourcing tip you can offer when it comes to antiques?
The antiques dealer is your friend. Get to know him or her. Even if they don’t have the specific item you’re looking for, they may have it in a warehouse or can source it for you. Developing relationships with dealers, particularly ones that match your specific vibe, is important.

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What are your top tips for navigating the new AmericasMart ANTIQUES collection on Floor 2?

  1. Walk the floor in both directions. The reason you do this is because your eyes will be attracted to one set of dealers going one way, and then on the reverse trip you will notice other vendors.
  1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Antiques dealers in general expect that negotiations will take place. The best way to get a bargain is to buy more than one thing and to simply say, “Is that your best price?” It’s polite and it pitches the question so that you’re not coming across as being pushy or aggressive.
  1. Ask questions. When you see a piece you want, get to know it. What type of wood is it? Where did you source it? You’re buying the story; this is not mass produced, so the details matter. Also, the more questions you ask, the more interested the vendor thinks you are and will most likely be more willing to work with you.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the new ANTIQUES collection, click here and to learn more about purchasing logistics, click here.

To get more tips from Toma, RSVP to Tyler Jones at to attend one of her guided tours of ANTIQUES in Building 1, Floor 2: Thursday, Friday, or Saturday during Market, starting at 1 p.m. Also, join us on Thursday, July 14 at 10 a.m. for Aged to Perfection: Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand (0.1 CEU) in Building 1, Floor 15, Designer Workspace.

July16_NoPassport_FB July16_AgedPerfection_Facebook

The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, July 12 – July 19
ANTIQUES: Thursday, July 14 – Sunday, July 17, 2016
Temporaries: Thursday, July 14 – Monday, July 18, 2016

Celebrating Excellence


AWH_PHOTO-1914-2When the curtain goes up on ICON HONORS 2016, the most anticipated and important night in the home and gift industry will have a dramatically new look, feel and energy in a spectacular setting unlike any other in the event’s history.

ICON HONORS 2016 moves to Atlanta’s storied Fox Theatre, the opulent 1929 movie palace located on Peachtree Street in midtown. With its spacious Egyptian Ballroom, 80-foot stage, giant screen and stunning Moorish architecture, the Fox is a spectacular setting for the ICON HONORS celebration.

The Fox Theatre – Photo courtesy of ACVB

With a coterie of more than 60 Honorees named over its first six years—from every dimension of the home and gift industry—ICON HONORS 2016 will again recognize the highest levels of achievement from a diverse field of submissions and nominations. Entries are submitted across the categories of Innovation, Contribution, Branding and Achievement and are judged by a distinguished panel of highly qualified experts drawn from the world of design, manufacturing and product development.

Attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry colleagues while enjoying top entertainment in an unprecedented setting – the most exciting night in the industry.

Join us at the Fox Theatre, Thursday, July 14 for ICON HONORS 2016. Tickets are available online at

Meet the Judges

Bonnie Mackay - photo by Braden Summers.

Bonnie Mackay – photo by Braden Summers.

Bonnie Mackay
BMackay Consulting
Bonnie Mackay, principal of BMackay Consulting, is a leading influencer in product development and global sourcing, retail innovation and brand consulting. Her innate sense for design and materials, and keen understanding of financial implications, enable her to create innovative, highly profitable products and business strategies for leading retailers and non-profit organizations. Mackay led merchandising and marketing for 13 years at MoMA, as Director of Creative, Merchandising and Marketing. Previously, she was Operating Vice President, Fashion Director at Bloomingdale’s. She has consulted for and collaborated with numerous brands including Friends of the High Line, MUJI, Alessi, Kartell, Vitra, Moleskine, NUNO, Design House Stockholm and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. She’s a member of the management team of the innovative, socially responsible retail platform Able Made, and is on the LIM College Advisory Board.

Stan Topol

Stan Topol

Stan Topol
Stan Topol & Associates, Inc.
Raised in the South, interior designer Stan Topol spent the early summers of his career in New York assisting Billy Baldwin, who many consider to have been the dean of American Interior Design. He founded the award-winning design firm of Stan Topol & Associates, Inc. in the mid-1970s. In conjunction with his strong commitment to education, during the early years of his career he also headed the interior design program at the Art Institute of Atlanta and later was in charge of the curriculum for the entire institution. In Topol’s words, “having style does not mean one has to be stylish.”

Janee Ries

Janee Ries

Janee Ries
Janee Ries is an accomplished and multi-faceted merchant/marketer with in-depth experience in retail, specialty store, direct mail and e-commerce business sectors in both prestige and broad-base product categories. She is a skilled tastemaker with proven ability to create and/or build successful brands and sales initiatives while keenly understanding price/value and the bottom line. Ries’ career started at Macy’s before the world famous store had defined its housewares department, The Cellar & Marketplace. She spent the next 18 years working in the Macy’s retail environment across all parts of the Home Store. She went on to become Executive Vice President of Gump’s By Mail, Chief Merchandising Officer of The Museum Company, VP Home Ross Stores and started the Home/Luggage/Beauty business at ideeli, a “Flash Sale” e-Commerce company. Ries is an Ad-Hoc Adjunct Professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology in the Home Products Division.

Patti Carpenter

Patti Carpenter

Patti Carpenter
carpenter + company
Patti Carpenter is an award-winning Creative Director in globally sourced home accents, personal accessories and gifts, with extensive experience in product design and development, merchandising and color & trend forecasting. As a Micro-Enterprise specialist with U.S. presidential recognition for domestic and international expertise in artisan development, small producer and entrepreneur training, and economic development, she has been successful in international sourcing and creating innovative products for her eponymous home textiles brand, carpenter + company, sold internationally. Additionally, Carpenter has designed, sourced and created strong private label collections that add revenue and enhance the image of brands including Bloomingdales, Sferra, Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel, The Phillips Collection, ABC Carpet and Home, Donna Karan Urban Zen and Ralph Lauren. She has traveled and worked in fifty-four countries and has spoken and written on Color + Trend and Design around the globe.