By  on June 27, 1994

NEW YORK -- For accessories vendors, the second half is shaping up as comeback time.

With the minimalist trend fading from the fashion scene for fall, manufacturers are forecasting gains ranging from 10 to 30 percent over the second half of last year. Firms specializing in scarves, hair goods, casual bags, gloves and hats had some of the most optimistic outlooks, though jewelry and belt companies, who suffered the most as a result of spare looks, said they are expecting the year to finish up more strongly than it started out.

Erwin Pearl, owner of the fashion jewelry firm here bearing his name, projected an increase of at least 20 percent over last year's second half.

"We had some nice increases in the low double digits for spring, but the market overall was tough," Pearl said. "Going into the second half, though, I do believe things will improve even more, and already we have more commitments than we did in the first half."

One key element is the introduction of a new glass jewelry division, Erwin Pearl on Bead Street.

Another jewelry executive, Carol Dauplaise, said she's banking on tassel pieces to provide a projected 10 percent gain for fall. She predicted tassels will be as successful as last fall's crosses.

"We're doing it in a wide selection of styles, with wholesale prices from $8 to $40," said Dauplaise, whose company here bears her name.

Dauplaise said the minimalist look had some deleterious effect on her first half, but an emphasis on small earrings proved to be successful.

Some belt makers also pointed to a similar down cycle kicking off the year.

"Actually, both the tail end of last year and the first quarter of this one were soft in department stores," said Joel Pinsky, president of the belt firm Omega Fashions here. "But we got around that by actively pursuing private label and specialty store business." Looking for a 10 percent fall gain, Pinsky said he will continue pushing the specialty store and private label routes. To spark department store business, Omega has a number of programs, from gift-with-purchase to boxed gift sets.Some belt vendors also said they were encouraged by a return to more structured silhouettes for fall.

"Fall looks a lot better because the waist is coming back into focus in a lot of the ready-to-wear," said Stephen Weiser, sales manager for Harwill Belts here, forecasting gains of 33 percent in metal belts and 15 to 20 percent in leather belts.

Other companies that fared better in the first half are looking for increased momentum.

"Our spring season was strong, and the reorders were great," said Eileen Brod, president of A. Brod, a multiple classification manufacturer here. "But as far as fall and holiday go, all of the trends really call for accessories and I think business will be stronger than ever."

Brod said she was looking for 25 to 28 percent growth, with scarves, hair accessories and hats leading the way.

Elaine Gold, owner of scarf company Collection XIIX here, said the addition of the Anne Klein line, which she began producing under licensing agreement earlier this year, would be a big boost to the second half, with gains forecast at 25 to 30 percent. The company also does the licensed Ellen Tracy scarf line.

"The Anne Klein line just gives us another chance to go after better scarf business," Gold noted.

Abe Chehebar, president of Accessory Network here, projected an increase of 30 percent and said his best-booking areas so far for the second half have been backpacks, canvas totes, hats and vests.

"A few areas, such as scarves and vinyl handbags, have been a little flat for us," Chehebar noted. "Generally, though, business has been trending up and we're heading into back-to-school, a major business for us, so everything looks good."

Ed Buccellato, director of corporate sales for glove company Grandoe Corp., said his firm had its best year ever in 1993 and was looking to repeat that in 1994.

"We're between 5 and 8 percent up so far, but I see that turning into 10 to 15 percent for the second half," Buccellato said. "The bad winter we had has definitely played a role in this, and stores are starting to see gloves as not just a holiday business but also a January, February and March business."

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