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Special Issue
WWD MAGIC issue 07/16/2008

Compared with the more masculine accessories lines of seasons past, this year’s offerings will be light, feminine and will feature plenty of juicy, vibrant colors.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Designers of bags, jewelry, scarves and footwear say the season offers opportunities for fun palettes, floral prints and a generally more relaxed sensibility. Bag makers show slouchy shapes in buttery soft fabrics and interesting linings, while footwear is filled with beach-inspired sandals encrusted with stones and gladiator straps. And throughout, designers are doing their bit for environmental protection. In jewelry lines, hoop earrings are still strong, as are layered necklaces, while filigree work makes a comeback.


“We’re doing filigree with semiprecious stones. It’s definitely much more of a delicate line,” said Mina Hurtado, director of operations at Los Angeles-based Kaymen B., which wholesales from $8 to $60. “We introduced the filigree for last winter and it’s done very well for us, so we’ll continue with that.”

At Alex and Ani, a jewelry maker based in Cranston, R.I., public relations manager Megan Benson echoed that view. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls for more filigree and more vermeil,” she said. The company will show its patented “endless hoops” design of lightweight seamless hoop earrings, and the one-size-fits-all bangles in darker gold and silver finishes in sets of seven or 12. Pieces wholesale from $25 to $48 for semiprecious stones, and $43 to $118 for precious.

While traditional silver and gold will be in plentiful supply, designers are offering new takes on color, in stones as well as in metals.

“We’re doing a brighter finish than antique gold on some of the colorways,” said Cynthia DeWald, director of sales and marketing for Sorrelli in Kutztown, Pa. New versions of gold will include toasted almond and creamy brown, and, DeWald said, “greens are also hot.”

“We’re showing lots of soft pastels and greens that match the colors of the ready-to-wear collections. We always use a mix of crystal, colored glass and semiprecious stones, and, while the designs are modern and contemporary, there is still going to be an antique character to it,” she said. Wholesale prices are $11 to $300, although the average is around $25 to $80.

Hurtado said Kaymen B. will offer lots of “yellow brights,” while New York-based jewelry designer Alexia Crawford is showing contemporary pastels.

“A fundamental neutral palette underpins this season’s colors, from sunny yellows, natural pinks, soft purples, sea blues and kelpy greens,” Crawford said. With wholesale prices from $6 to $60, the line focuses on Crawford’s signature iridescent mother-of-pearl pieces, as well as her use of plastics in retro styles and metals that have been battered, textured, enameled or painted, as well as mosaic surfaces.

Turquoise also will be making a comeback, said Nicole Burgan, marketing director of By Boe Ltd. in New York.

“We’ll be showing sculptural rings and earrings in sterling silver and 14-karat gold, and the look is more delicate this year,” she said. “Resin has a vintage feel, and we’ll be using a lot of turquoise and sea blue.” The collection runs $8 to $36 at wholesale.

In bags, structure is giving way to slouch as lines ease up. “There are a lot of soft, drapy silhouettes, which tend to do better,” said Ivy Sciotto, merchandiser at New York-based Perlina, whose line wholesales from $85. The soft shapes look especially appealing in the brand’s repertoire of soft lamb leather in neutral shades of black, brown and gray, punched up by red and cobalt blue.

At Los Angeles-based Junior Drake, design director Alyssa Johnson said the season is “really about structure and softness. We are known for our soft bags, but we’re adding a few more architectural elements, maybe by adding a frame or using darker hardware in gunmetal finishes. But the shapes are not as linear and are more free-form.”

Retailing from $170 to $650, the line also includes some new quilted lamb, goat and calf leathers, many in shades such as dark red and hunter green.

“There are lots of loose, fluid silhouettes,” said Lainie Schreiber, designer at Latico Leathers in Denville, N.J. “But it all depends on the leather. Patent-like leather might have a more structured silhouette, but we’re also trending much softer.” The $25 to $145 wholesale soft napa bags will be in strong colors like purple wine, banana yellow and apple green. “We have bright, cheery colors, and it all has contrast stitching to make it fun, casual and easy.”

Christine Brown, owner of San Diego-based Jazzd, agreed that the season was about softness and color. “Shapes are smaller and more ladylike,” she said. “The trend is toward brights — greens, yellows, corals, white, teals. There are lots of mix-and-match colors in a very urban, edgy patchwork design.” Prices are $20 to $35 at wholesale.

That more relaxed attitude extends to prints, as well. At Jazzd, those might be in polkadots in a multitude of sizes, while at Perlina, designers have come up with their own prints for linings, including bright animal patterns. At Moonsus in Renton, Wash., marketing manager Mindee Lee said flower patterns in jacquard fabrics would soften the line of women’s career bags, briefcases and laptop bags.

“We’re showing more lightweight and smaller pieces,” said Lee. “We’ll be doing new flower prints and using colors like camel, yellow, mocha and oak wood to make everything softer.” The collection costs $100 to $200 at wholesale.

Many companies are keeping their style quotients while doing their part for the environment. At Kaymen B., all the metals are lead-free and there are lots of natural wood-based products. Wood is a recurrent theme at Alex and Ani, too.

“The metals we use for our expandable bracelets are made from recycled scrap metal,” said Benson. “It’s a big thing for us, and has to do with people getting back into a more natural way of doing things.”

Johnson of Junior Drake said she was focusing on eco-friendly processing.

“We have used leathers that are chrome-free in the tanning process,” she said. “It’s something we want to work on more and more.”

Schreiber at Latico Leathers agreed, adding that the hardware on its bags is brass, and that cotton lining is more eco-conscious than polyester blends.

– Filigree work makes a comeback in jewelry.
– Loops are more popular than chandelier earrings, while slender bracelets and bangles are new again.
– Colors range from grass green to deep burgundy hues for the transition into fall. Neutrals like caramel and gray are punched up with red and electric or cobalt blue.
– In bags, shapes are slouchier and more relaxed; hardware is minimal.
– Prints abound, whether on the surface of the bag or as a lining, and can be abstract, floral or animal.
– Designers are increasingly eco-conscious, streamlining their leather-production process and opting for natural materials.


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