What’s The Future Of Workwear And Partywear? Atlanta Apparel Knows!

by Freya Drohan

Mark your cals and take notes: Atlanta Apparel is back from April 13-17. The question on everyone’s lips is what trends will come to the fore after a year that turned dress codes on their heads. The good news? People are finding joy in getting dressed up again. The Daily jumped on the phone with Blake Rayon, the owner of popular showroom UnCommon Fashion, who is a fountain of knowledge about what shoppers all over the country want…and why!

What are you seeing a surge of interest in right now? For the office and beyond…
We’ve progressed from tie dye and comfy-casual back to more sophisticated look. Think: denim, t-shirts, light chambray, and easy wear tops. Almost like what you used to wear on a Friday to work. Progressively, demand for blazers and denims is still very strong and people are shopping for mini dresses: kind of a LoveShackFancy meets Joie style! We’re seeing a move towards colorful and bright tones. It’s football season and college sports season, and people like to color match towards their teams. Our North East client base are still very into a casual WFH look—but also progressing away from tie dye and more into soft ombré and pastels.

What about fabrics?
We’re seeing a heavier change in the fabrics. The touch and feel of the fabrics remains important, and we’ve seen a big reaction to softer knits. The mom jean is still very active! We’ve moved away from the ‘standard’ mom jean and are seeing a major play in dark denim rinses, all black versions, and ones with knee cut outs.

What’s a new consumer trend that you’ve noticed?
There’s a strong desire to know where the products are made. In 89-94% of our recent client interactions, we’ve found people asking where is it being made, what is the sustainability, and there are strong concerns about products being made in USA. That’s been a major shift.

Let’s talk accessories…
Accessories has been the monster business! Since last year and even going forward, there’s been a non-stop need. Several of our brands have been doing well with their initial necklaces—South Moon Under, Evereve, Altar’d State. Mother’s Day is around the corner, so mommy and me styles have been popular. We’re astounded by the figures, it’s really booming! It’s been a great replacement for other areas of business.

And what about footwear?
Slides have been going super strong—comfy fuzzy slides seem to be replacing the Gucci loafer. The weather is getting warmer and people want to show off their mani pedis! Sneakers and comfortable footwear are huge. A lot of people are biking to the office or on their lunch break they’re spending more time outside, so there’s the need to be comfortable while you’re doing that, which has caused a big shift. People in the South are obsessing over the Golden Goose-type sneaker. I’m a big Mike Jordan enthusiast myself—everyone seems to be jumping on that! Cole Haan people are wearing sneakers all of a sudden—it’s really great to see!

I’m intrigued about handbags, is there still a demand?
Handbags and clutches, both for men and women, continue to do well. For guys, we’re seeing fanny packs, which they wear across the chest. For ladies, it’s matching color details. When you think about it, it’s an easy way to update your look for those who haven’t upgraded their wardrobes in a while.

In terms of occasion wear or party fashion, what are you expecting to do well this Fall?
In the North East, it’s all about white, black, and chiaroscuro prints. Whereas in the South, it’s still print-driven and concentrated on jewel tones. Floral details continue to be popular, and we’re seeing geo prints looking likely to do well in the later quarter of the year; especially in more sophisticated, premium stores. Sequins don’t seem to go away! But we haven’t seen much reaction to them outside of Florida and Texas.

Are there any trends you’ve seen drop off the radar?
Camouflage is something that’s slowed down. And midi dresses seem to have totally dropped off. Jumpsuits and rompers have also lost some steam—instead, we’re seeing people leaning towards a blazer and skirt or denim hook up. The pantsuit is doing really well and has been a hit for our European collections. Some of our French clients are doing phenomenal with that.

What’s your takeaway from it all?
We see the shop local, support small business movement continuing to be huge. It’s been a big, big play for our specialty retailers…everyone wants to help their neighbors. Made in USA, also, and people looking for whatever is the best quality. Overall we can see a desire to be out and not just meeting people over Zoom. It all makes for very encouraging behavior in the marketplace!

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