Atlanta Apparel: Spotlight On Key Showrooms

by Freya Drohan

To give us a sense of what to expect ahead of Atlanta Apparel‘s live trade show kicking off on October 13, The Daily talked to three veteran participants and showroom owners about what what makes the event so special.  

Kathryn Low, owner LBV Showroom

Tell us about your showroom.
We opened our permanent 2000-square-feet showroom in 2012, and have been on the same location on the 9th floor ever since. Trina Turk’s corporate showroom is also inside our showroom.

How many lines do you have?
We currently have 10 lines: White + Warren, Brodie Cashmere, Hanky Panky, Draper James, AS by DF, Anna Cate, Leallo, Never a Wallflower, Ecru, and Dana Stein Furs.

How did you get into this business?
Jennifer McMullan [partner] and I always knew we wanted to work in fashion and did from the beginning of our careers. In college, I worked for Neiman Marcus and then opened a boutique in Virginia after college. After five years, I decided wholesale was a better fit. I moved to Atlanta, where I worked for the Leib Showroom for seven years. In 2012, LBV Showroom was born! In 2016, I was lucky to have Jenn join our team as my partner. Jenn was previously a buyer for Neiman Marcus, an international account executive for Derek Lam, and the international account manager for Donna Karan in NYC, before moving to Atlanta in 2014. We are excellent complements to each other…every brownie needs a blondie!

How did you pivot this year?
This year has been a challenge but one we’ve faced head on! We really focused on our relationships with our accounts. We have always had a strong road presence and relied on road work this year more than in previous years. In addition to adding virtual Zoom or FaceTime appointments, it has really saved our business.

What’s your favorite thing about showing at Atlanta Apparel?
The camaraderie! We’re like a big extended family here and try as much as possible to work together. We make our showrooms as comfortable and welcoming as possible, so when buyers come, it’s like welcoming them into your home.

How many years have you been showing at Atlanta Apparel?
I’ve been here since 2005 and still work with many of the same amazing accounts. Over the years, many have become very good friends. We meet more wonderful people every year! This building is like no place else.

What has been your big takeaway from this year?
Teamwork! We’re all (retailers/showroom owners/brands) going through challenges and while they’re not all the same, working together to overcome the obstacles certainly helps.

What’s keeping you motivated and excited this year?
You have to go through the storm to see the rainbow on the other side. Can’t wait for 2021!

Michael Perry, Michael Perry Showroom

Tell us about your showroom.
After being on the 11th floor of Building 3 at Atlanta Apparel for 18 years, I relocated my showroom to the 9th floor in 2010. The showroom is over 2,400-square-feet, and it is a permanent showroom that is open for all five major apparel markets, as well as the two major gift markets.

How many lines do you have?
We are currently responsible for four lines: C.K. Bradley, Hinson Wu, Jude Connally, and Tyler Boe. But we also have Acrobat, Ecru, and Marie Oliver featured in the showroom.

How did you get into this business?
I grew up in men’s retail, owned my own men’s clothing store, and when I closed my clothing store by coincidence, I met someone from the women’s apparel industry who suggested I speak to someone about a position. The rest is history after 28 years!

How did you adapt or pivot this year?
Fortunately, the lines that we service are very well known and the top retailers in our region realize it is vital that they stay on our retailers’ sales floors. Even through the pandemic, we were encouraged by the business that we captured through the markets that Atlanta Apparel conducted in June and in August. We have been very successful with our virtual presentations too. We have been sending those to accounts who still were not comfortable attending markets.

What’s your favorite thing about showing at Atlanta Apparel?
We have established a destination showroom in the Atlanta Apparel, and our accounts enjoy spending the day in our showroom. We are fortunate that Atlanta Apparel has done a great job ensuring retailers across the country that we are conducting business in a safe environment.

How many years have you been showing at Atlanta Apparel?
28 years.

Wow! Do you have relationships with buyers that date back years?
Definitely! We have relationships with many of our buyers that go back beyond 15 years and more.

What do you think distinguishes Atlanta Apparel from other trade events?
The daily special events that are offered to the retailers, and the great job they do of securing better, desirable brands that our stores are looking for.

What has been your big takeaway from this year?
Making sure that you go the extra mile, our brands have worked very closely with our accounts, which have left lasting impressions during these difficult times. Our retailers have commented that they will not forget those who have helped them survive and they are the brands these stores will return to first.

What’s keeping you motivated and excited this year?
That the retailers who are “in it to win it” will be around when this is all over, and that right now we just have to take it one day at a time and trust in your faith!

Elyse Springer, Ambrosia & Co.

Tell us about your showroom.
We have been showing here since April of 1992. We offer womenswear apparel from 18-80 years young, and beyond. Our brands cater to all different regions with a spectrum of offerings, from denim leggings to exotic furs.

What lines do you represent? 
We represent 34 brands, including Lisa Todd, Max Mara Leisure, Lilla P,  Lafayette 148 New York, Splendid, and Stitch & Needle.

How has this year looked different for you?
Due to everything that has happened this year, we have certainly been forced to think outside the box a bit in order to reach our customers. Starting in March, we began to rely heavily on working with our customers on future orders via line sheets and on-body imagery, as well as FaceTime appointments. In order to comply with all of the safety measures that are recommended, we continue to use these tools to write orders.

How did you pivot this year?
One of our biggest concerns was ensuring that market felt safe and comfortable for our customers, while also making it feel welcoming and warm. We’ve been able to overcome that by making sure that the recommended safety measures are in place, from masks to sanitizing and social distancing.

What are you taking away from this year?
One of the positive sides of how we are opting to display our collections now is that it’s more one-on-one with the customer. This allows us to get to know our customers on a more intimate level, and allows the customer to clearly consider what styles will work best for them from each line.

What else have you done differently this year?
We have definitely used social media much more this year than previous years. We, of course, used it to connect with our customers while we were WFH and during those very tough early weeks, we used our own social media to try to brighten things up with uplifting quotes and talking about our WFH faves. As we began to prepare for slowly reopening, we leaned on social media as a way of checking up on our accounts to see where they were in the process, as it varied so much from state to state and even city to city. Our team and some of our vendors filmed presentations of their lines and emailed them to customers so they could watch at their leisure before placing orders. Although we are not thrilled with the circumstances of how these innovations had to come about, we are happy to have so many tools we know we can rely on.

Lysse (courtesy)

What’s your favorite thing about showing at Atlanta Apparel?
Atlanta is easy to navigate. The apparel is all in one place, which makes shopping easier. As for the metropolitan-Southern twist, if you stay in the right hotel nearby, you never even have to go outside. The local pimento cheese is the icing on top of the cake!

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