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Accessories Drive ModaPrima Fair

MILAN — ModaPrima, the International Fashion & Collections Show, quietly unveiled its assets for fall 2003 at Fiera Milano. <br><br>Many of the 90 exhibitors showing at ModaPrima, a fashion accessories fair that this year also included knitwear...

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MILAN — ModaPrima, the International Fashion & Collections Show, quietly unveiled its assets for fall 2003 at Fiera Milano.

Many of the 90 exhibitors showing at ModaPrima, a fashion accessories fair that this year also included knitwear and women’s apparel collections, reported buyers had showed a restrained interest, and that the atmosphere inside was as sluggish as the rainy weather outside.

“The market in Europe is too saturated and everybody seems to be doing the same thing,” said Carol Zhang, vice manager of Shanghai Xinchen Import & Export.

That noted, some exhibitors said the subdued mood wouldn’t affect their business forecasts.

“There hasn’t really been a problem selling our product, it is doing very well in Europe,” said Filippo Catarzi, owner of the eponymous hat manufacturer.

There was a small increase in visitors shopping at the three-day fair this month. Attendance totaled 4,293, up from 3,840 in 2001.

Exhibitors were mostly Italian and included Wooltime Acquarossa, which sells knit accessories to Zara, Missoni and H&M, and CP3, which makes private label collections of bags and shoes for Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

Dominant trends included capes, frayed felt and satin and chunky knitwear in ebony, ivory and dark chocolate brown.

On the accessories front, there were corduroy caps, loosely knit scarves and shawls in mohair and wide leather belts.

Color combinations like dusty rose with moss green were popular for knitwear, while brown and turquoise dominated accessories.

Capes in terra-cotta fox fur and black and gold lace at Giallo Oro were attracting interest, as were the marabou neck wraps at Merhari in light rose, gray and beige — all tied with contrasting velvet ribbons. Merhari kept buyers intrigued with black velvet and taffeta calf-length skirts, embroidered organza forest green shirts and reversible tweed and waterproof blazers.

A mottled green and orange roll-neck sweater with wide ribbing on the waist and sleeves earned high marks at Carmen Basilique.

“We are already selling to Japan, Ireland, Spain, Northern Europe and South America, but the fair has been quiet,” said owner and designer Carmen Basilique.

Tucked away in a corner, Wooltime Acquarossa displayed its variegated designs of simple accessories. Extra-long wool scarves with blocks of contrasting color hung next to some in slate gray and light pink mohair. Fuchsia wool ponchos and multicolor wraps for jeans fastened with wooden buttons were also top sellers.

“Wooltime Acquarossa is involved in every process of production, and since expanding from producing the fiber to making the product, sales have increased,” said managing director Davide Pieri. “We are experiencing a 40 percent increase in sales despite the current economic situation.”

Hats, in general, were also high on buyers’ lists for next season. Among the 400 articles from Filippo Catarzi’s new collection were corduroy caps, which were popular in beige, stone-washed blue, gray and dusty rose. Trilbys and bucket hats in felt and thick cord were detailed with front buckles and buttons. The company makes 800,000 hats annually, and they are distributed among such chains as Zara, Etam Printemps and Monoprix.

Owner Filippo Catarzi said hats would remain as one of next season’s most important accessories and this was reflected in sales that increased 20 percent over the past year. He projected an increase of another 10 percent in 2003.

Butter soft leather shoulder bags and matching mules in beige were the focus designs at CP3, a manufacturer that supplies the private labels of Saks, Bloomingdale’s and directly under the label Roberto C for Neiman’s.

Sales manager Massimiliano Capaccioli said Roberto C was easier to sell in the U.S. because the simple shades of brown, white and blue that matched everyday wear attracted American buyers. CP3’s other label, Lancetti, features shiny vinyl pale pink bags with beige motifs that were more attractive to European buyers.

Nickel and gold-finished effects on handmade calfskin bags attracted new U.S and Japanese buyers at Carbotti. Designs went from classic to fashionable, including a chocolate flower embossed suede bag, a traditional Kelly-style bag and a tobacco-colored wide belt with silver round chain fastenings.

Giovanni Carbotti, marketing manager, noted that adapting to trends had increased company sales notwithstanding the sluggish economy.

By contrast to the earthy winter colors that ruled the trade fair, E&L Accessories showed an array of accessories in jewel-like tones. Already selling to Fiorucci and Sweden’s Champagne, E&L has started supplying smaller boutiques including Haute Couture in Paris. Other looks include big handmade rose pins in a wide range of colors, shiny leather butterfly hair clips and silver chain belts.

“Our product is cheap and easy to sell to buyers, as they are not only good accessories but good things to have for a shop window,” said owner and designer Anne Mette Lundquist. “The customer might not be able to afford a new shirt, but she can put a rose on an old one.”

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