Atlanta Apparel’s Caron Stover On What’s In Store For February Market (Kicking Off 2/2!)

by Freya Drohan

ICYMI! Atlanta Apparel is back for another market on February 2. We’ve been busy getting the inside scoop on what to expect, the key fashion trends to watch, and the hottest brands to watch. Today, The Daily caught up once more with Caron Stover, senior vice president of leasing, who has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a flawless execution. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming market: 

Tell us about the high points from the last market? Any particularly proud moments?
We are most proud of our teamwork behind the scenes to create a successful show. We learned more than ever that it takes an army to pull off in-person markets during a pandemic! We came together as one, we all put our heads together, and strategized in new ways. We had to consider everything, and how to make the show as safe as possible, in addition to offering the best customer service to our brands and retailers. We were taught firsthand the real meaning of pivoting—we had to pivot our floor plans, our payment policies, our entry and exit to our market, our staffing, food service, our show events and marketing strategy, the list goes on. All of our work prior to market led to a successful show—with 80% of brands in attendance, and 85% of retailers (compared to prior to the pandemic). The overall turnout and ability to keep everyone safe at the show was definitely a high point and makes us excited for the rest of 2021. If we did it in October, we can do it again: bigger and better!

How did the takeaways from last season’s successful market shape this upcoming event?
All seven markets that we have hosted in Atlanta since COVID have helped shape the next—each time bigger and better than the last! At February Market, we are expecting more brands, more buyers, and more product, meaning we will be taking all of IMC’s [International Market Centers] successful and safe hosting practices to the next level. In fact, IMC has safely served over 75,000 attendees across all three campuses {Las Vegas, High Point, and Atlanta} since reopening in June of 2020! The temporary exhibits will feature a new and updated floor plan with extra wide 12-foot aisles for comfortable, socially distanced shopping. During the last October Apparel Market, mask enforcement was well appreciated, temperature check lines were tweaked to run smoother, and we added more food options and seating. Being very open about our policies and how we are making market safe has led to a great outcome of pre-registration for buyers and brands. In addition, our ability to be flexible and work with customers, allowing them to cancel at no penalty if they personally have a COVID-related issue arise, has made them feel comfortable signing up! {Visit togethersafely.com for more information.}

What can attendees expect? What’s Atlanta as a city like at the moment, are things slowly getting back to normal?
Atlanta is not, and does not feel, shut down. It does feel safe! Attendees will have options for dining and activities they can participate in based on their comfort level. Atlanta is a foodie city that continues to innovate and thrive. Locals support the culinary community and, even in the midst of a pandemic, they’re keeping a majority of our restaurants open. Hospitality partners throughout Atlanta are implementing new and enhanced procedures to safeguard our guests as we welcome our visitors back. Being in the South, we have the benefit of warmer temps to allow for outdoor dining, which Atlanta restaurants have embraced and now offer more than ever. We have a list of restaurants that are open for dine in and take out on our website, so market attendees can still experience our amazing food scene!

 

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Are you expecting similar participation to last time, or even more numbers?
Even more! Spring/summer is such a strong season, so historically this show always has a large turnout and we are elated that our pre-registration numbers are actually higher than last year’s pre-COVID event. The trend increase of attendees participating we’ve seen since reopening in June 2020 gives us the data to believe that February will be a success!

Is there anything new and different for February?
Yes—11% of our temporary exhibit collections are new brands! And over 300 of our permanent resources continue to grow with new and expanded showrooms. In addition, and to continue the support of buyers’ needs, we are adding pre-market planning and educational content for February’s Market, airing the week before the show on our social channels. Part of the pre-market content found on @AtlantaApparel IGTV, includes @Sell_Eat_Love’s Lindsey Rozier sharing quick tips and tricks on how to shop and get the most out of Market and “Trend Insight” updates showcasing curated trends picked by Atlanta Apparel’s Fashion Office. Then, the day before market will feature a full day of education with Laurie Pressman, vice president of the PANTONE Color Institute, who will “The Colors and The Trends Driving The Apparel Industry in 2021”; Natasha Samuel of Sol Studio Marketing will present “5 Steps for Content Batching on Instagram”; and DeAnna McIntosh, founder of Global Retail Consultant & Diversity Retail Inc., will lead an insightful conversation in the first of four “Diversity in Retail” sessions.

 

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How will you measure the success of the event this time?
Registration turnout and feedback from our tenants and temporary brands will remain how we measure success, but now we layer in safety and smooth operations to help us improve every time! Overall, success is bringing our community together safely.

Are there any digital/virtual events happening that we should know about?
In addition to all of our pre-market planning and educational virtual content mentioned above, we have a packed schedule once market gets going! Daily at-market virtual trend programming on @AtlantaApparel IGTV includes: @City.Peach’s Mireille Beckwith in “Fashion Insider” with tips for market each day at 10 AM, and Sips & Snaps digital fashion shows each day at noon. The Sips & Snaps digital fashion shows will feature children’s trends on Wednesday, new exhibitors on Thursday, and Young Contemporary trends on Friday.

Can you tell us about safety, what protocol is in place?
We are operating with the same protocol from the last seven shows during COVID, as it has proven to be successful. Atlanta Apparel will continue its commitment to the safety of all participants by following IMC’s Together Safely plan. Together Safely measures in place for the market include the required use of CDC-approved face coverings, temperature checks, contactless registration, and enhanced cleaning of the building. In addition, a downtown shuttle will be offered for door-to-door transportation to and from nearby hotels Wednesday through Friday, and personal escorts by IMC security team members are available upon request. The campus also features several directly-connected hotels that provide access to the market without the need to step outside.

What are you personally most excited about this season?
I am personally most excited about seeing the brands’ new collections and of course, seeing our industry friends and family! Markets have always been a place to inspire us all; we get excited to see the new trends, listen to trend forecasts and watch fashion shows. Besides the events and market setting that is inspiring, our industry friends and family are inspiring! Being back in some sense of normalcy, and catching up with our industry on both work and personal, is refreshing and I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone!

For more, see atlanta-apparel.com

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