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It might be a backlash to a stagnant economy, but accessories vendors say that spring 2009 should be all about making a splash, moving away from conventional colors and introducing lots of fresh summer shades and details.
This story first appeared in the August 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Designers in all categories say that brights and pastels will be strong for spring and leading into next fall, while shapes — be that in jewelry or handbags — are bold and attention-grabbing.
“I think people are tired of being boring,” said Kristi Pagador, owner of Kiki Designs in Los Angeles, a jewelry maker. “I’m going in with lots of bold and bright colors.”
She is mixing colorful natural stones, raw gemstones and semiprecious stones with pearls for fun and playful flower shapes, large cocktail rings and collar necklaces.
“It’s really whatever attracts my eye,” she said of the line, which wholesales between $20 and $200. “Accessories should be timeless so that you can wear it today or three years from now, with a pair of jeans or an evening gown.”
Color continues to be a strong theme at Felicia Goldberg in New York, where Venetian glass and crystals come in shades of amber, burgundy and green, intertwined with metallic beads.
“I call it maximism,” said designer and company owner Felicia Goldberg. “The themes are very romantic — lots of cameos encrusted with crystals, chokers, bangles, layers of gold chain and some really nice chunky things in Venetian glass.” The line wholesales for $5 to $70, and is designed for people who are looking to add some punch to their existing wardrobes.
Jessica Mendelson, owner and designer of her namesake Troy, Mich.-based jewelry line, described the approach as “bigger, chunkier, fun and funkier.” Again, color is key — purple, orange and green, with some black mixed in — and a combination of stones such as quartz, tourmaline and onyx.
“We also do a lot of custom work, so pieces can be customized for a store if the price point is an issue,” said Mendelson, adding that items run for $60 to $400 at wholesale. “But the reason that bigger jewelry is so important is that clothes are getting simpler. We’ve gone through that minimalism thing where it’s just a chain with a drop, or a narrow cascade. Even earrings are getting chunkier and necklaces are bigger, with longer ropes and multiple strands.”
Elsewhere, vendors said that it’s going to be all about the unique little details. Christina Brown, owner and designer of Jazzd, a handbag line in San Diego, said abstract patchwork prints on her bags have been popular. Also proving a hit are wallets shaped like little cigar boxes.
“You can throw in a wallet, a cell phone, keys and lipstick in a jiffy and it also comes with a strap to convert into an evening clutch.” She’s showing supersoft patterned fur bags as well as mock-croc textures. Shapes, she said, are downsizing somewhat.
“They’re not as gigantic as before,” said Brown. “People seem to be looking for the more manageable and medium-sized bags, which are more ladylike.”
She’s going for earth shades in mustard greens and browns, especially in her new patchwork prints, which she said are enjoying a revival at the moment. Hardware is more minimal, with the main decorative influences coming from texture and colors. Her average wholesale price point is $30.
Osman Seflek, owner and designer of San Francisco-based bag line La Purse, said he thought shades of blue and purple would enjoy a resurgence in popularity come next spring. He also is offering a huge range of colors — up to 80 — in his pashmina shawl collection, which goes for $13 to $15 at wholesale.
“Big bags are still in, and we are anticipating a lot of orders for a nice-sized new bag we have coming out in a high-quality leather that is designed to stay put on the shoulder,” he said of his collection, which averages at around $180 at wholesale. “But we are keeping the hardware very simple.”
Exhibitors say that in a crowded category, they need to define themselves through quality materials. “We have some new textures as a result of interesting processes that are great for everyday use,” said Lainie Schreiber, national
sales director of Latico Leathers in Denville, N.J.
New to the market is the Popcorn collection, which features puckered leather, and others that Schreiber compared with “the irregular patterning on a brick wall.”
“Our new pieces are textural, but still modern and in streamlined silhouettes that can be casual or dressy,” she said, adding that the emphasis on texture will continue through resort and holiday. Other key looks: a lizard-stamped process given a surface gloss.
“There are high tones, which are glossy, and low ones, which are flat and matte, so you get a visual texture and a tactile texture,” she said. Popular colors for spring include dark chocolate, black, putty and light gray, while the Popcorn offerings come in ice blue, green and black.
“And we’re seeing all shapes, so there’s really a style plethora to choose from,” she said. “Our styles range from vintage-inspired to oversized and slouchy casual bags,” she said of the collection, which runs $79 to $89 at wholesale. Hardware is gold and simple, with the exception of a newly introduced, patent-pending ‘coin keeper’ attached to the outside of the bag, allowing the user to slip spare change into it. “We’re seeing strong bookings with that,” she said.
Shine in bags is another approach. “We have a new high-gloss version, but it’s not patent,” said Farid Meskin, owner of Lavive Leather in Los Angeles. “We’re going two ways — either a pebbled leather, or one that has lots of shine to it.”
The effects will be enhanced by his color palette; but Meskin said that, instead of going for a basic primary like red or yellow, he has zeroed in on a very specific shade. “We’re going with light pink, lime green, tan, winter white, orange, yellow and red. But you have to know the exact color you want, whether it’s brighter or more dull,” he said of his line, which averages between $19 to $29 at wholesale.
In his view, large bags are still in, as are manmade leathers that look and feel like the real thing.
“I’m really covering all my customers right now,” he said.