ACCESSORIES: A MIXED BAG

Byline: Amanda Meadus

NEW YORK--Whimsical, practical, classical and casual will be just a smattering of the trends showing up in the accessories section of the WWD/MAGIC International show.
A wide range of accessories vendors will show an array of fashion and product trends, and many vendors will be showing two seasons' worth of merchandise--fall and holiday, or holiday and spring--further broadening the looks available.
Watchmaker E. Gluck Corp. will serve up elegance and fun with the holiday collections of its two watch lines, Anne Klein and Armitron. Jerry Dikowitz, vice president of marketing for E. Gluck, said the Anne Klein watches will follow a tailored direction with such features as bracelet wristbands and wardrobe sets of interchangeable bezels and straps that can be coordinated to match different outfits.
The Armitron line, on the other hand, will play to a fun-loving crowd with its licensed Looney Tunes watches.
"The Looney Tunes line has been expanded by about 35 percent this year," Dikowitz said. "We'll be featuring a lot of new functions such as musical alarms, illuminated dials and other touches that add even more novelty to the merchandise."
For handbag vendor Holiday Fair, many fall and holiday fashion looks pack a functional, practical punch, said Steven Hedaya, president.
"The Londonderry collection of our Capezio line will be the most important one we have at the show," said Hedaya. "The bags have a lot of compartments and functions built in, and because product versatility is something everyone's been talking about this year, we expect an excellent reaction."
Hedaya added that structured frame bags, a key part of the Conservative Chic look, will also be represented.
Several exhibitors will be responding to corporate America's new casual dress codes. Belt vendor Omega will focus on this trend for spring, according to chief executive officer Joel Pinsky.
"We're calling them 'casual classics,' " said Pinsky. "They are made of high-quality leathers that can be worn to work and worn right through the weekend."
These belts will be offered as private label lines, Pinsky said. Omega will also be exhibiting its fall lineup of licensed Etienne Aigner collection belts, which have a tailored feel.
Millinery firm Hat Attack will show its fall/holiday and spring groups, each geared toward the less formal, less constructed side of dressing.
"Everything will be soft," said B.J. Gedney, designer. "Our fall and winter hats are made of acrylic fleece in bright colors, while our spring hats will be unstructured cottons and straws with natural or black and white color schemes--very simple and understated."
Some vendors, like Leatherock, will follow a dressier direction, featuring touches of glamour in their lines. The San Diego-based producer of belts and handbags is focusing on leathers accented with Swarovski stones, satins and metallics for holiday. Belts are decked out with rhinestone drop chains, and structured handbags feature crystal-encrusted hardware.
Most of the belt selections, noted Leatherock president Laurence Bloch, will be wide--two inches or more.
"We've always really specialized in wider widths, but for quite some time they hadn't been so popular," Bloch noted. "But now that they're coming back into style, we're expecting a surge in demand."
Streets Ahead, a Culver City, Calif., manufacturer of belts, will also offer a holiday lineup of wide widths as well as contoured styles. Shine will be an important look and will be worked in as a subtle metallic finish on leather, said Chareen Anstey, national sales manager.
"Western will also be shown a little for holiday," Anstey said. "We think the Western look will be a huge trend for spring, so we're going to start easing into it now."
Glamour will marry casual at St. Maarten Accessories, a Dallas belt and handbag firm.
"For fall, we're doing almost a little spoof of the whole corporate casual movement," said Marty Fishman, president of St. Maarten. "We'll show pieces made of denim and black velvet, denim for the dress-down and velvet for the dress-up. They will literally be day-into-evening looks."
Holiday will be done along the same lines, but black leather will replace the denim, Fishman said.
Launches will also be part of the WWD/MAGIC show picture. Backpack vendor Kipling will unveil its new Oxygen line of backpacks and small bags.
"Oxygen is a more sophisticated version of Kipling's signature backpack," said Larry Lein, senior vice president of Tumi Luggage of Middlesex, N.J., the U.S. distributor of Belgium-based Kipling. "In fact, we're referring to it as 'Kipling for evening. "'
While the standard Kipling bags and backpacks are made of sturdy nylon and outfitted with large buckles and industrial zippers, pieces in the Oxygen line are constructed of softer, smoother microfiber nylon and fitted with sophisticated matte silver hardware.
Kipling's new Safety line will also make its debut at the show, Lein noted. Backpacks in this group are embellished with reflective tape, flashing lights and other features designed to give the wearer a little extra assurance when walking or biking at dusk, he added.

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