By  on March 10, 2008

NEW YORK — Amid the severe economic slowdown, buyers weren't taking chances on their spring and fall accessories at AccessoriesTheShow.

The exhibitors attending the three-day event that ended March 3 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention here were giving themselves a last opportunity to sell spring merchandise during a schedule that some say is clogged with too many trade shows.

Tony Taylor, creative director of the Brooklyn-based legwear firm Look From London, had been on the trade show circuit since the beginning of the year — from New York to Las Vegas to Europe and back to New York.

"In New York alone, I've done three shows since the beginning of the year," Taylor said. "There has not been much immediate order writing here."

Jessica D'Amico, founder and designer of Lady J. Jewelry Designs, said the show was slow for her.

"It wasn't what we expected, but we are going to do the May show and people said it would be busier, so that will be good. MAGIC in Las Vegas was really good for us. There are definitely too many shows, but we are trying to find the right fit."

Business Journals Inc., organizers of AccessoriesTheShow, declined to comment on the exhibition.

Lady J. Jewelry features silver handmade pendants and rings, wholesaling from $45 to $250. The five-year-old Brooklyn-based brand sells mostly to smaller stores in Brooklyn and California.

D'Amico admitted that it is not an easy time to be making jewelry.

"The price of precious metal, like silver for example, is up 20 percent today over what it was a few weeks ago," D'Amico said. "We can't change our price points overnight. We just do our best with pricing and revisit it every quarter."

For buyers, the show was a chance to find precisely what their customers wanted. They were looking for no-fail pieces that they wouldn't have to mark down.

"I'm looking very specifically for my shoppers, for yellow and pale gray handbags for spring as well as silver and gold hoops," said Beth Rubenstein, accessories buyer for Jacklyn's, a boutique in Queens, N.Y.Gail Kendel, owner of the Baltimore store Vassari, said, "Our customers are still shopping, but they're very cautious. Where they used to buy more at one time, traffic is down. People are buying one thing at a time. So for me, I walk by more things now where I used to try them out. Now, if I am not in love, I don't do it."

Kendel pointed to the Palm Beach, Fla.-based handbag firm Zina Eva that features colorful patent clutches and zipper-detailed carryalls wholesaling from $129 to $269.

"These bags are great, I like them very much," Kendel said. "And it's a great value. Someone who buys Chanel will always buy Chanel, but they'll pick this up as a fun bag. Plus, they are totally available. They're delivering to me in any color in two weeks."

Chicago-based jewelry designer Nakamol Sussman said she was doing double the business she did last year, specifically with her floral rings and leather cuff bracelets with floral details. The trick for Sussman might be her prices: Her chunkier floral collections wholesale from $5 to $12, while her more upscale pieces in gold wiring with semiprecious stones are marked from $19 to $45.

"We always order the Nakamol line," said Yvette Fry-Perez, owner of Ruby Lola in El Paso. "We carry both middle- and upper-priced pieces, and this is more middle, where we're seeing the crunch in the economy. People who have money will always have money and go shopping. For us, her pieces have a great value to them and great pricing."

Jody Schrull, a representative for The Finest Accessories Inc., a hair accessories firm based in Seattle, said she was hoping for better traffic at the show. "We've had better shows here," she said.

But Joshua Rubin, founder of alltheragewholesale.com, an online wholesale division of Stephan & Co., had a good show, while Tiffany White, co-owner of Anteprima Nueve, a one-year-old handbag firm from Miami, was trying the show for the first time.

In determining whether today's market is a good one in which to start a handbag brand, White said, "If you have the right product, pay attention to the quality and price it right, you're going to be fine. Our business is exploding."

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