By  on October 16, 2013

PARIS — Buyers attending the recent Premiere Classe Tuileriesaccessories trade show here were looking for novelty and exclusivebrands to beef up their offer in a segment that continues to performwell, despite the bland economy.The event, which ran Sept. 27 to 30, featured 381 labels, including 69 newcomers, up from 41 at the same time last year.Amongthem was jeweler Maria Piana; Madrid-based cushion maker Suturno, andhandbag label Fairchild Baldwin, whose collection spanned a lightweightcolor-blocked leather tote with pockets, a unisex weekender travel setin cotton weave and oversize round bags in pony with gunmetal handlesfor custom order — all produced in Italy. Pascale Camart, headbuyer of women’s wear and accessories at Galeries Lafayette, noted thataccessories — whether luxury or more accessible pieces — have beenregistering strong sales growth for the last five years. Sheremarked that bags are doing especially well, and observed thepredominance of small cross-body bags, backpacks and XXL clutches at thefair. Fabienne Ruset, director of accessories and luxury goodsat Le Bon Marché in Paris, noted the department store recently unveiledan accessories concept store.“Despite a difficult economicsituation, the accessories market stands out via its dynamic growth andcreation. A bag, a scarf or a piece of jewelry remain impulse buys,which our customers are more than ever likely to purchase to accessorizeand personalize a look,” she said. For spring, Suturno willcreate exclusive cushion patterns for Le Bon Marché. The Madrid-basedlabel uses hand-drawn techniques on items like silk scarves covered withcharming prints like sailboats and cactuses, which also generatedinterest from buyers from Taiwan, Japan and London. “Productexclusivity is definitely key to assert your difference and provide aunique shopping experience to your customer,” noted Ruset. “It isimportant to edit the market with your own DNA and provide the bestseasonal offer to the customers.” Milliner Vanessa Deutsch tookher five-year-old line in a new direction for spring by streamlining hercute aesthetic with swimming caps and braided turbans made from fabricslike foam, Plexiglas, polyamide and elasthane. The vintage feelwas inspired by swimming competitions, and Deutsch said she “likes tomix between the Fifties and Sixties, using the materials of today.” Herpieces are sold at Anthropologie, and lots of Nordic buyers wereenthusiastic.French sock maker Bonne Maison, based near Limoges,had colorful and soft offerings in Egyptian cotton. The year-old brand,which is sold at Liberty in London and Comme des Garçons in New York,said its main spring themes were Marie Antoinette and tropics. An ikatpattern was especially popular among buyers.Diemme is both abrand and independent factory based in Montebelluna in northern Italy.Having produced goods for luxury brands like Bottega Veneta and Chanel,it started making its own men’s label four years ago in the form ofhunting and mountaineering boots. This season saw the launch of awomen’s collection, though some models are unisex. “Since we have ourown factory, we’re not really limited to any minimums in terms ofproduction,” said product and brand manager Erlend Güettler Hanssen. “Sowe allow ourselves to use many different materials. We have a bigcollection compared to our overall sales volume.” The materialsinclude python, antelope, bison and woven leather, among others. All ofthe materials are Italian, though Diemme occasionally uses tanneries inthe U.S. or the U.K. Hanssen said even the bolder prototypes hadattracted interest. “People are more drawn to visual stuff. Even thoughit’s twice the price, it has been really strong,” he noted.SarahFénérol, cofounder and creative director of Mondéfilé.com, a Frenche-commerce site specializing in up-and-coming designers, noted that, interms of jewelry trends, there was “a lot more volume” in the designs. “There’sa desire to step away from the more classical codes, to try things thatare a lot bigger, and take more risks in terms of the materials,” shesaid. Stephanie Nelson, divisional merchandise manager ofaccessories at Shopbop, felt that “the show was strongest in jewelry,where we saw more newness in terms of brands.” She said the major trendswere the use of pastel hues, such as ice blue, pale pink and mint, andgraphic embellishments such as flowers, lips or animals.In thejewelry section, Maria Piana, a Greek designer based in London, showedher bold geometric cuffs, rings and neck pieces that were architecturalin the extreme, and which caught the eye of a number of Italian buyers.All the pieces are made in London.By contrast, Marseille-basedline Stephanie Jewels: Le Fil de la Vie was all delicacy —filament-thinstrands of nine-carat gold bracelets and necklaces joined withcustomizable striped threads. Sara Carlesi, women’s accessoriesbuyer at LuisaViaRoma in Florence, said she expects demand foraccessories to hold up. “This season is going really well, and we arereally growing right now. The number of people making online purchasescontinues to grow, especially in the world of accessories,” shecommented. RELATED STORY: The Icing on the Kuchen: Berlin's Growing Accessories Market >>

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