NEW YORK — A turnaround is just down the road for accessories.
Retailers and vendors at last week’s holiday and resort market said their fourth-quarter outlook is looking much brighter than in past seasons.
The $30 billion accessories category boomed in the late Nineties, then slowed down when the economy headed south. Department stores were faced with sluggish store traffic and a minimalist style in fashion, which made many women lay aside their jewels, bangles and beads.
The upbeat predictions about the key holiday season are coming from indications of a slight economic recovery, and the feeling that jewelry and other accoutrements are coming back into favor. This is being boosted by a must-have trend in chandelier earrings along with Mod-inspired patent handbags, fabric belts or vintage watch straps, and an array of eye-popping colors across classifications.
“There has been an upswing in retail buying in the last two months,” said Nelson Levin, vice president at Renee’s Accessories, an exhibitor at Accessories The Show. “The recent resurgence in the stock market makes people optimistic. It’s better than expected and buyers are anticipating a recovery.”
Allyn Fried, owner of Allyn & Co. showroom, said: “No one really bought fall, so now they are buying it with chandelier earrings and a lot of interest in color, which is always an indication that things are on the way up.”
Buyers shopped Midtown showrooms and at two major trade shows, Accessorie Circuit and Accessories The Show. Compared with last August’s editions, Accessories The Show’s attendance was up by 20.1 percent to 8,598, while the number of visitors at Accessorie Circuit and its adjoining Intermezzo Collections was about 7,300, up about 5 percent from last year. Accessorie Circuit’s organizer ENK International did not break down attendance figures for each show.
“People say that business is starting to turn,” said Maxine Coppersmith, president at multiline showroom Notanonymous. “Things won’t go back to what they were like two years ago, but we have started the path of discovery fueled by color.”
Key trends emerged including:
Chandelier earrings in many formats, from long elaborate designs to short drop interpretations.Fabric belts and watch straps, made with ribbon or colorful vintage fabrics.
Brights and pastel colors, from pink and baby blue to olive green, citrus yellow and lime green.
Mod looks, with silver or gold metallics or black-and-white patent for handbags or small leather goods.
Brightly colored Lucite for Sixties-inspired pendants, multiple-disc earrings and handbag hardware.
“There are a lot of chandelier earrings and a lot of beaded looks, as well as Asian-inspired motifs,” said Ruth Fortunoff, Fortunoff’s jewelry merchandising manager, who was at Accessorie Circuit sourcing for a new unit the retailer is planning to open in White Plains, N.Y., next month.
Sunny Diego, market director for accessories and intimates at Saks Fifth Avenue, liked the darker hues for jewelry.
“I feel that with the fashion jewelry, things look better in the deep greens, browns, deep grays and jet, [which] is always good for fourth quarter,” she said. “For fashion jewelry, some of these ‘pinky’ or lime-like stones can look moderate.”
Roy Kean, owner of multiline handbag showroom Accessories That Matter, where 40 percent of the orders were for immediate fall delivery, said: “The open-to-buy is increasing for buyers and most seem to feel upbeat. Buyers were going after colors, from light shades like pink and blue, to brown mixed with pink. They are responding to merchandise that is fresh and new. If it’s basic, they are not touching it.”
At Accessories That Matter, top trends included functional exterior pockets for handbags at Jaunty and Plinio Visiona, subtle surface and texture treatments such as crinkled patent, snake and crocodile at Paola Del Lungo, and black-and-white patent and metallic at Plinio Visiona and David & Scotti.
“Prada made a major statement for spring by doing their windows entirely in silver,” said Kean. “After three years of fashion marketing firms forecasting metallics, the trend has finally arrived.”
Many vendors agreed that for fall, stores were looking to fill their shelves with colors usually associated with spring and summer.
“Stores aren’t looking at accessories in a seasonal way,” said Brad Frey, president at showroom DP Accessories. “They will purchase everything from the bright to the pastel palette, with no consideration to the time of the year.”Robyn Albaum, senior account executive at Maxx New York, agreed: “Normally stores don’t look at color until February, but at this market, stores wanted it as early as December. They felt that color was going to be strong even for holiday and gift-giving.”
Many vendors brought fall, resort and spring collections to the shows, since stores continue to keep their inventories lean and buy closer to the selling season.
Karen Erickson, co-owner of Showroom Seven, said: “People are looking for September deliveries. The spring weather was so bad, so the consumer almost skipped that season and started spending in June on early fall.”
In its Erickson Beamon jewelry line, the company showcased a take on chandelier earrings with “Vanity Fair” mirror earrings and necklaces featuring dangling miniature baroque mirrors.
Erickson Beamon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and for the occasion, it is launching a 27-piece diamond jewelry collection this fall. It features 18-karat gold pieces with styles such as drop chandelier earrings. Retail prices for the line, which will be sold at Barneys New York, Colette in Paris and Joyce in Hong Kong, range from $1,500 and can climb as high as $75,000. Erickson said first-year sales projections are $4 million.
One of the most talked-about items at the show was a colorful plastic bag inspired by Hermès’ Birkin handbag shape, which is already a must-have item from Milan to Montauk. As reported, Hermès filed a federal lawsuit last month against Steven Stolman, the Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y., retailer, for selling these rubber imitations, and the company is pursuing retailers and vendors picking up on the trend.
That said, the buzz has triggered a demand for colorful plastic bags, even if they don’t resemble the Hermès knockoff.
“We didn’t have any at the show, but a lot of stores came asking us what we were doing in our signature frosted PVC,” said Albaum at Maxx, which is offering a large plastic tote in three shapes.
Sandra Block, president of R&B Fashion, said she was at Accessorie Circuit looking for items for pets and their owners. Block is planning to open a 980-square-foot boutique called Shaggy Chic on East 60th Street next month, with matching accessories for pets and owners.“People aren’t spending as much on clothing as they are on their animals,” she said. “If you look around at this show, people are doing more items for animals.”
Case in point: Donald J Pliner launched “Friends of Baby Doll Pliner,” a collection of clothing, accessories, collars and leashes for dogs, to hit stores for holiday selling. The collection is inspired by Pliner’s Maltese dog Baby Doll, and retails for $150 to $500. First-year sales for the dog accessories collection are projected at $10 million.
During the market, handbag firm Inge Christopher launched the Inge collection, which features top-handle suede handbags with floral, Hawaiian prints and leather ruffle edges, and silk brocade bags with a leather trim and tassels.
While the core Inge Christopher collection, which was launched in 1986, hones in on special occasions, Inge offers more casual day bags.
“It was time to add a different dimension,” said Inge Hendromartono, president and designer at the firm. “ We wanted a casual day bag, but with a different look. This is a bag with attitude and kick.”
Wholesale price points range from between $75 and $200, and the line targets upscale specialty stores and department stores. First-year sales are expected to hit $2 million.
Another newcomer in accessories is Split, the men’s and women’s contemporary surf brand based in Irvine, Calif. The new line of Split accessories is being produced under license by August Accessories, the Los Angeles-based surf and apparel firm. The merchandise includes floppy fabric hats and bags with resin handles that have floral prints in colors such as pink and sea green.
“Retailers now are brand-oriented,” said Daniel J. Maravilla, vice president of sales and marketing at August Accessories. “They want brands that they can sink their teeth into that have a national presence.”
August has hired Sally Peckenpaugh, a former accessories designer at Quiksilver’s Roxy division, as design director for accessories. A Split company spokeswoman said this is the firm’s first license.
Maravilla said he is targeting primarily department stores, as well as specialty chains such as Pacific Sunwear and Gadzooks for Split accessories, and noted that the product offerings will likely be expanded to include wallets and other categories. Wholesale prices range from between $6 and $20, and first-year sales are estimated at about $3 million to $5 million, according to Maravilla.August Accessories also makes the line of JLo by Jennifer Lopez hats, gloves and scarves, which debuted at the March market.
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)