PARIS — Reinvention was the watchword for organizers of the Première Classe and Bijorhca accessories and jewelry shows, held concurrently here from Jan. 20 to 23.“It’s very important to understand that at Première Classe we are very conscious that we need to find new solutions, that we need to renew and to bring new experiences for our exhibitors,” show director Sylvie Pourrat told reporters on the opening day.In moves to create energy this season, a new layout directed traffic heading to the Fame hall at the neighboring Who's Next show through the 800-brand selection at Première Classe, while some accessories stands were located within Who’s Next itself.“Accessories brands want more than the classic trade show format. They don’t know what they want, but they want to try something new,” Pourrat said, noting that French footwear line Mellow Yellow had a stand within each show.From upcycling to customization to Made in France collections, fall 2017 showed plenty of choices for retailers looking for beautiful craftsmanship with a story.Laura Toledano, buying director for Monshowroom.com, named French handbag brand MySuelly as a favorite. “It’s the revival of a brand we’ve always loved. We’re thrilled to see it reborn, in a collection that combines femininity, modernity and savoir-faire,” she said. In jewelry, Toledano singled out Soko, the Kenyan-born ethical brand. “It’s a minimal and ethnic universe. And an authentic, strong positioning, very different to other brands present on the market,” she said.Noting the prevalence of Made in France labels, Frédéric Granger, buying and marketing manager for Citadium, was impressed by the floor space jewelry has taken within Première Classe. “There’s an unbelievable amount of jewelry brands,” he said, naming Une à Une’s minimalist semi-precious designs among standout collections.“There’s a move towards everything personalized – without being pricey,” observed Marie Pedat, a buyer for an Annecy, France multi-brand carrying labels like Isabel Marant and Acne. Pedat cited the example of customizable notebooks by Laurie et Les Petites Mains, which was open for business in Hôtel Bohême’s pop-up, one of six temporary shops open for business across the shows.Among the freshest-looking newcomers, Toasties took shearling into a new color dimension, showing bike seats, phone holders, fanny packs and even shorts in shades like acid orange, shocking pink and citrus yellow. “These are practical accessories to make winter happy,” said designer Maria Lye.The freelance stylist revealed an equally compelling backstory. Born in Belleville, the hip multicultural neighborhood of Paris, the label makes everything using sheepskin cut-offs rejected by France’s luxury fashion houses. “The skin will be perfect, except for one hole, so it can’t be used,” she explained, adding it’s ideal for accessories. Already sold by Le Bon Marché and Merci, Toasties reported strong demand from international retailers.Another upcycling label, Hactor, showed a men’s accessories line where bags mixed recycled denim with leather. Meanwhile, newcomer Gang de Grand-Mères reported that demand for its knitted, crocheted hats, made by a collective of knitting grannies, is so strong that it plans to introduce tele-knitting from next month. Knitters countrywide will receive the wool, knit the item and send it back, explained founder Hugo Camusson, adding each knitter’s name is inside the hat.“There are two or three collections that look out of the ordinary, in terms of originality and their quality-price ratio,” said Isabelle Giauna, shopping for a new multibrand opening in Monaco this spring. Giauna loved Elisca, a brand making scarves with mixed fabrics - patchwork with tweed, cashmere with leather – and then tied at the end.At Bijorhca, guest curator Stella Cadente put on a taxidermy jewelry display and shared her top picks from the show’s 100 newcomers, including New in Paris for its revisited ethnic style and Sara Whittle's Eighties-inspired jewelry.Mirroring a move seen at other trade shows to push young talents who have already won the public vote, Bijorhca partnered with the online creativity collaborative platform Chall’Angel, where voters selected their favorite collections from 73 young designers. Among three winners, Lady Amherst, a jewelry collection made with pheasant feathers and 24-carat gold, reported strong order-taking.“Retailers don’t take a risk on unknowns in case it doesn’t work, so the fact there’s been a significant vote is a promising sign,” said Aude Leperre, Bijorhca’s new show director, who introduced a 3-D printing village to explore how the technology can be applied across the jewelry industry.With visitor numbers down slightly at Bijorhca and falling by 7 percent at Who’s Next and Première Classe combined, organizers are planning further show changes and are stepping up buyer recruitment internationally.
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