In spite of the economic and political woes of the past few years, the accessories market has been booming, as evidenced by the 84 new accessories resources exhibiting at WWDMAGIC this week. One reason for this is that today’s fashion-savvy but budget-strapped customers are more anxious than ever to hop on the latest trends, and often the most cost-effective way to update a wardrobe is with an of-the-moment bag or brooch.

“It’s all the time — even when the market is depressed, people still buy jewelry,” said Janet Winchell, chief executive officer of jewelry brand Bella Sole, “but it has to be within the right price point.”

She noted that her pieces in semiprecious stones and crystals, which wholesale from $3 to $450, perform well in part because of the strong trend in color, but also because of their broad price range.

The success of the accessories market, however, could be considered a double-edged sword: As it becomes a higher-volume category, more designers are drawn into the market, driving up competition.

And these days, it can take very little to compete. With the growing presence of digital cameras at trade shows, Winchell noted, “The stuff is being copied and made before the show is even over.”

Still, she conceded, “There is room out there for everybody — it just depends on who you are targeting. You have to work closely with your buyers to get a sense of what people want.”

LISTEN UP

Kira Prazak, office manager of New York-based brand Carolina Amato, agreed that listening to retailers is the best way to stay ahead. The company manufactures shawls, wraps, ponchos, gloves, hats and scarves that wholesale from $18 to $200.

Ponchos are a key accessory for fall going into spring, and Carolina Amato will offer them in velvet and silks for holiday and linen and gauze for spring. But with such a trendy product, how does a firm make sure that its style stands out for buyers?

“Our shape is different than any other shape,” Prazak said. “It’s open at the sleeves, and the long triangle silhouette draws attention away from the waist. We also use unique details like buttons and bows.”

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