Amid turmoil in the financial markets, there was hardly a shortage of visitors navigating New York’s AccessoriesTheShow and Accessorie Circuit trade shows last week at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Westside Piers.
This story first appeared in the September 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The three-day events, which ended last week, likely benefitted because of its positioning right after New York Fashion Week, among other factors.
As Patrick Juvet’s “I Love America” blasted from the Pier 92 sound system, the atmosphere appeared to be hopeful, if not upbeat.
“We’re having a great show,” said Cynthia O’Connor, chief executive officer of Cynthia O’Connor and Co., a sales showroom for Kooba, Rebecca Minkoff and C.C. Skye. “I think this economy creates an opportunity to go after the competition that is going to get wiped out. Retailers are ready to get back in the swing of things. We’re seeing the color purple blow out as a trend, and if purple is blowing out, retailers obviously aren’t too worried.”
O’Connor also cited neon as a handbag trend that had retailers taking note.
Shopbop.com’s buyer, Kassidy Babcock agreed that “neon seems to be continuing, as well as bright colors for spring. Rebecca Minkoff did it especially well. It’s been one of our strongest brands for fall and has really stepped up for us as a key vendor.”
Elyse Kroll, chairwoman of ENK International, producer of Fashion Coterie and Accessorie Circuit, said her team was surprised at the large number of attendees lined up in the early morning to get inside.
“I think people have been holding back,” Kroll said. “They make less trips to New York and they’ll only go to Coterie twice a year because they don’t want to spend as much. We do five shows a year and since January, we’ve done well, but I think this one is so packed because of the influx of Europeans going after the weak dollar and it’s right next to fashion week. You’d think we’re in the middle of a robust economy. This is great for people to see.”
Brad Frey, president at showroom DP Accessories, which represents accessories brands such as Kendra Scott and Joomi NYC, said he has been writing orders, but more for immediate deliveries than for spring.
“It’s supposed to be a spring show, but it’s all holiday,” Frey said. “People are buying closer to the date. They don’t want to place long-term orders. People are coming in and saying, ‘I want this in four weeks.’ We are writing for how fast we can ship.”
Scott Schramm, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of fashion at Henri Bendel, also noticed that many exhibitors still had their holiday assortments.
“The good news is that what we’re seeing for holiday does carry forward,” Schramm said. “We feel strongly about pearls and mixed media with pearls — pearls with metal and ribbon and in multi strands.”
Yasar Bora, designer of Bora, a Brooklyn-based jewelry line, reported having a good show and wasn’t concentrating on the retail climate.
“I have no time to follow what’s going on in the news, I just want to concentrate on my buyers,” Bora said.
But the designer, whose Middle Eastern inspired baubles retail at Free People, Anthropologie and Nordstrom, admitted that the weak economy has affected his raw materials pricing.
“It’s difficult because if I quote a retailer a silver ring for $125 and then when the price of silver goes up in the middle of the night, it’s too late,” Bora said.
Some companies are betting big on the spring season by starting new divisions. Los Angeles-based handbag firm Junior Drake launched its younger line Love JD by Junior Drake featuring colorful totes wholesaling for $20 to $80. The company is banking on its seven-year history to welcome a new category during a shaky retail climate and is airing a Web series on youtube.com to coincide with the launch.
Michael Stars, a contemporary sportswear company from Los Angeles, is also making a big push with accessories for spring, launching hats, scarves, sandals and beach bags that hit within the $20 to $80 wholesale range.