The History of Who Buys and Why

By Mercedes Gonzalez, owner Global Purchasing Companies

Mercedes GonzalezIt’s not just about trends
Besides knowing what is on-trend, fashion retailers need to understand consumer behavior. Knowing why people buy, what they buy, and how much they are willing to spend (known as consumer price resistance), means understanding where consumers’ values truly lie.

For example, during the financial crisis 2008, people were losing their homes and jobs, but designer shoes, which start at $800, never dipped in sales. Consumers gave up expenses like going out for lunch or taking taxis, but they were not giving up their shoes. They even started shopping at fast fashion retailers, like Zara, and pairing $100 dresses with designer shoes and bags. And guess what? That high-low chic worked and looked great.

But was high-low chic an iconic look of the new millennium? If we take a close look at the whole time period, we see that the common denominator was actually comfort. Every year there was a new crisis: Y2K, 9/11, SARS, the war in Iraq and Anthrax. You get the picture. In times of crisis, people look for comfort; in their clothing (bamboo fabrics), in their footwear (Crocs) and in food. People stopped going out as much and entertained at home. That became the new normal.

Seeing the future
As we examine fashion in this decade, consumers are becoming fatigued on many fronts. Fast fashion is slowly but steadily losing traction. People are tired of walking into a room where everyone is wearing almost the same thing. They are dissatisfied with poor craftsmanship and thinking more about social responsibility when making purchases. They are spending dollars on well-crafted and limited-production items that have an interesting design direction.

Another area of fatigue is the sad or guilt story. Consumers do value items that are ethically made, but there is concern for how genuine these claims are. Even Made-in-the-U.S.A. claims have come into question over items like watches that are assembled in the U.S. but contain parts made overseas.

Which brings me to consumer price resistance. As a rule, it doesn’t matter what things cost you to buy, it only matters what the consumer is willing to pay. There are many factors that go into that judgement, especially the story behind the product. Today’s consumer sees buzz words like “fair trade,” “eco friendly” and “sustainable,” and labels with the maker’s name and photo as the new normal and expects them to be value-adds that don’t correlate to an increase in price. Think about an organic tomato merchandised at Whole Foods in a wood cart with locally made, fresh mozzarella and a hand-painted sign of the farm’s name. You pay top dollar for it because of the story you perceive from the display. Now did you know that Walmart also carries organic tomatoes but at probably half the price?

My end-of-the-year predictions
Boutique retail businesses are thriving. U.S. consumers are not necessarily money-poor, but time-poor. They expect an expert to attend to them during the shopping experience and will pay for it. Investing in properly training your sales staff will be important.
It’s also an election year, and sales typically drop more than normal during the October before the vote. Plan fun, in-store events to help draw customers in, like a how-to workshop that shows them how a favorite summer dress can be layered up for use in winter. I also warn you not to post the slightest hint of anything political.

On the flip side, November should really be an excellent month. Remember, retail is a form of therapy. Consumers who feel relieved from the election will…guess what…go shopping to celebrate, and people who feel sad and depressed over the election, well, they’ll go shopping too. Plan your OTB accordingly.

One last note. Don’t guilt consumers into a purchase. Give them real reasons to buy as opposed to making them feel like they’re doing charity work. Extended store hours, local delivery service, exclusive or limited-edition items, gift wrapping, are just a few touches that bring real value to shopping at your store.

Hear Mercedes Gonzalez speak at August Atlanta Apparel. Visit AmericasMart.com to add her seminars to your Market Plan:
Thursday, August 4:
10:30 a.m. ǀ Capturing the Social Occasion Market
3:30 p.m. ǀ Retail Math

Friday, August 5:
10:30 a.m. ǀ Sweet 15 (Quinceañera)

Room to Grow

Step by step success with a Florida children’s retailer
By Jessica Harlan

When Kelly Leigh couldn’t find the clothing styles she wanted for her son, she did what any entrepreneurial-minded mom might only dream of doing: she opened her own children’s clothing store.

Getting started
She opened Kelly and Kayden in Windermere, Fla., in fall 2015, and quickly discovered that running her own store was far different than managing others. “Working for other industries, I knew my customer and I knew what our brand and focus was,” says Leigh. “But when I started this new adventure, it was unknown.”

But not entirely unfamiliar: she’d been dressing her niece, now 12, as well as friends’ kids for years, and as a new mom herself, she had a specific idea of what design aesthetic she wanted in her shop. “My approach is fashion forward and sophisticated,” she says. “Nothing too frilly, no cartoon characters and no visible branding. It’s clothes that you could buy for great family photos.”

She also has to take into account Florida’s unique climate and customer base. “We have so many people from all different backgrounds,” says Leigh. Plus, she has to choose comfortable fabrics for the hot, humid Florida weather: cotton or other soft fabrics and sleeveless styles are an emphasis. Because she likes to be able to touch and personally inspect everything she carries, most items are bought at AmericasMart and other gift markets.

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Finding the right mix
Leigh has worked hard to finesse her assortment of merchandise. Her layette department is 10 percent; baby products such as toiletries, towels and diaper bags is 5 percent; boys’ and girls’ clothing is 50 percent; jewelry and accessories is 20 percent; shoes is 5 percent; and toys is 10 percent.

Originally her vision was to stock clothes in sizes from newborn to size ten. “Kids have such an opinion around the age of 10, and I didn’t want to address that.” But her big girls’ area has already doubled, and she’s buying sizes up to 16 at the request of her customers, who are looking for cute age-appropriate clothing.

Another area that has grown was hair bows. As a mom to a boy, Leigh was skeptical when her sales rep extorted her to carry them. “She told me that stores can pay their rent just on hair bow sales.” But she listened and now her famous “hair bow bar” stretches seven feet.

Planning for the future
As far as pricing goes, Leigh describes her range as “fairly priced.” Merchandise starts at around $5 and goes up to several hundred dollars for higher-end items like formal wear or communion dresses. “I think if you have a wide range of prices, you don’t single out a particular buyer,” she says.

While toys only comprise about a tenth of her merchandise assortment, they’re an important component. “Toys are easy gifts, and they complement the buying people do here,” says Leigh. She carries educational and high quality brands, such as Melissa & Doug and Jellycat plush animals. And the toys make for fun cross merchandising.

Currently Leigh is her store’s sole employee, but she has big plans for the future. “I see our store becoming one of the leading children’s stores in central Florida,” she says. She’s hoping to have an online shopping platform up and running this summer. Other than that, she plans to “perfect what we have” before taking any more steps to grow.

Read more about Kelly and Kayden in the July 2016 Market Magazine.

For information visit kellyandkayden.com or call 407.217.6902.
Photography by Forever Wild Images.

The Daily Strut Sponsored by Esley Collection

By Briar Davis

During the June Atlanta Apparel, The Daily Strut sponsored by Esley Collection showcased a vibrant young contemporary collection of pieces that were perfect for any occasion. The collection included classic silhouettes, a bold use of patterns, feminine flair and other timely trends. Watch for the up and coming looks this season: denim, fringe, lace and more.

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The Daily Strut Sponsored By Gracia Fashion

By Briar Davis

Gracia Fashion sponsored one of The Daily Strut shows during the June Atlanta Apparel Market. The line showcased a timeless assortment of fashions in black and white along with a slew of fun pieces mixing solid color statements and brightly patterned styles. Be on the lookout for tiered ruffles, touches of lace and playful prints this season.

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PROM 2016 TRENDS

As we prepare for the WORLD OF PROM this month, we can’t help but day dream about all of the amazing prom styles that will be trending for 2016. With so many breathtaking and flattering designs, this could very well be the most fashionable prom season yet.

We’ve gathered together a list of trending styles to get you prepared to shop prom 2016 here in Atlanta. With so many different collections, you are sure to find just the right variety for everyone’s prom needs. From classy and timeless detail, to fun and unique shapes, there is something for everyone to achieve the perfect look they have been dreaming of for a night they will never forget.


TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

TWO PIECESIt’s easy to see that crop tops have been a huge trend piece during the past couple years, and they are better than ever for the prom 2016 season. While still keeping the look of a traditional prom dress, the idea of two pieces adds a fun touch for young girls. We’re seeing this in many different styles, including pieces with short or long sleeves, as well as full-length and short skirts.


SLEEVES, SHORT + LONG

We’ve seen necklines such as strapless, sweetheart and one-shoulder, but now the art SLEEVESof sleeves is gracing the prom dresses of 2016. Short, long, off the shoulder… you name it and you’ll most likely see it in some shape or form. Although this aspect gives prom dresses a much more conservative feel, it only adds more of a special touch. It also allows plus size women an option to feel more comfortable while dressing for a formal event!


MIDI LENGTH

MIDI LENGTHThis trend debuted in the 1940’s and made a comeback recently in 2011. After dying down quite a bit, designers have decided to try a new take on the midi skirt and incorporate it into formal fashion. For prom dressers looking to embrace a more elegant and conservative style, this trend meets perfection. It’s feminine and classy, just the way a prom dress should be!


LACE, PLEASE

We can’t really think of a time when lace hasn’t been a good idea. Prom dresses covered in lace or with simple lace accents have madeLACE them that much more beautiful. Combining lace with mesh fabric creates an illusion of  lace covering the body, which we’ve seen all over the fashion industry lately. Multiple brands have been incorporating this trend into their 2016 designs, and we can’t wait to see more.


THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF BLING

EMBELISHMENTSEmbellishments have been popular in past prom seasons, and this year they are back and better than ever. We are seeing a lot of fully embellished looks, as well as some partly embellished looks mixed with mesh to create the desired illusion. Dresses covered in embellishments, such as this white Sherri Hill look, make the perfect statement.


RSVP for WORLD OF PROM, the nation’s #1 Prom & Social Occasion Market, taking place during the Atlanta Apparel Market on Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10, 2015. Join us for our WORLD OF PROM fashion show on Thursday, August 6 featuring prom trends for the 2016 season!

Fall 2015 Trends and More with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga.  He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.


Although the fall brings cold weather, there are always so many great things to look forward to during the season. New fashion trends, college football, the holidays and so much more. Throughout the Atlanta Apparel Market at AmericasMart, we have the chance to see exciting fall trends before anyone else. Throughout this blog post, you will find trends to look forward to for the Fall 2015 season, as well as helpful tips to incorporate in your retail store.

Mellow Yellow

This fall, yellow will make a strong comeback in many different styles. We’re already AWH_PHOTO-8632beginning to see it debuting in shops around town, on the Instagram accounts of popular bloggers, and used by leading designers in new collections. We will see a rich, sunflower yellow, deeper in tone than the daisy yellow of spring.

When it comes to choosing which yellow items would best complement your existing wardrobe, turn to your favorite fashion bloggers or Pinterest account for suggestions. We’ve seen the trend add a pop of color in just about every style or shape, including dresses, skirts, pants, shoes and bags.

We may be kissing summer goodbye at the end of August, but prepare your closets to take a little inspiration from the sun this fall. Pair your yellow pieces with a rich brown, gray, black or orange to channel more of a fall look, resembling the leaves at the end of the summer.

Accessories – Not Just an Impulse Buy

Not only will yellow be making a statement this fall, but so will those easy and affordable add-on accessories that you just can’t seem to stay away from while you’re out shopping. Think along the lines of scarves, hats and jewelry. We’ve seen hats make a huge fashion statement over the last few years, and we are thrilled to see them sticking around.

AWH_PHOTO-0168Trendy accessories continue as a growing factor this fall, including new and old pieces. They can easily add to any woman’s personality and complement any look, depending on her style of choice. They have the advantage of being an affordable item that customers can easily pick up during a shopping trip.

Accessories should be an integral part of a retail business. There are different styles with a variety of quality to choose from, depending on the direction of your store. Select accessories that complement the apparel you’ll be selling for the season.

Show Your Spirit

In addition to bright colors and trendy accessories, collegiate items of state schools remain in the spotlight. Each fall, these items make their way back in some new form orAWH_PHOTO-9476 fashion. During the June Atlanta Apparel Market, collegiate T-shirts and stylish Game Day collections made appearances throughout showrooms and during the Daily Struts.

Shortly following football season, Christmas will be here before we know it, with all of its festive holiday fashion. During the holidays, it’s important to let your customers know what options your store has for gifting. Try showcasing your smaller items near the check-out area, or create a small gifting display. Your customers will appreciate that everything is in one spot, and they can easily find what they are looking for.

What trends are you most looking forward to for Fall 2015?

The next Atlanta Apparel Market will take place Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10, 2015.

Match much?

It’s no secret that the matching separates trend has been steadily making its way to front and center.  So, prepare to fill your closet with multiple sets of this easy, yet incredibly stylish duo for the upcoming seasons.  To top it all off, there isn’t much that the matching separates trend doesn’t work for — they look effortlessly chic for lunch dates, casual walks, nights out, traveling, and even lounging.

Don’t doubt the stylist combo just yet… Legendary music artist and fashion icon, Taylor Swift, seems to agree with us.  She has been rocking the trend left and right and was even the topic of a recent Teen Vogue article talking about her love for all things matchy matchy. They mentioned her gorgeous, yet affordable white and powder blue matching set that she wore on a lunch date with her beau, Calvin Harris.

While keeping our eyes peeled at Atlanta Apparel last week for repeated trends across multiple showrooms and the fashion runway, the matching separates trend caught our eye.  The trend has picked up on a few shapes and sizes lately and we have a feeling you’re going to be a fan.  We’ve included a few of our picks for all week long.


For the work week:

Matchy 2    Matchy 1

This trend just made getting dressed for your nine to five a lot easier.  Not only can you wear these two pieces together, but you can mismatch them with other items in your closet to create a multitude of outfit choices.  These two options are appropriate for the office and still make a stylish statement.  We have to admit, they look pretty comfortable, too.  Throw on a pair of nude pumps or a comfy pair of flats and you’re good to go!


For the weekend:

Matchy 7    Matchy 6

Lets talk about comfort… These matching sets are perfect for lounging all weekend long.  Have some errands to run?  No biggie, just switch out the comfy sweats for your favorite pair of jeans.  These two styles by Bobeau work for any age and their excellent quality ensures that they will last.  Side note: the One-Button Fleece Wrap Cardigan on the right is one of Nordstrom’s best sellers!


For fun:

Matchy 5    Mathcy 3

There isn’t much more to say about these two sets, other than the fact that you need at least one of them in your closet this season!  The fringe detail and embellishments add the perfect touch without over doing it.  They are incredibly fashionable and can be worn during the day or for a night out.  We think T-Swift would approve of these, and who knows, we may see her rocking one on one of the latest fashion magazines.

Find styles like these and much more at Atlanta Apparel, taking place Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10.

Items in images 2, 3 and 4 – Reeves & Company Showroom in Building 3, Floor 9, E110B.

Items in images 1, 5 and 6 – UnCommon Fashion Showroom in Building 3, Floor 9, S119.