By  on September 23, 2013

NEW YORK — Now in it’s 18th year, Atelier Designers in February will mount its 50th trade show.

“We have more collections, but we don’t have more space in the hotel,” said Atelier’s director Susan Summa, sitting in a suite on the 40th floor of the DoubleTree hotel in Times Square. “We have more European collections and accessories because they add texture and a great deal of color.” Multimedia jewelry, including pieces made from laminated paper, are popular. Bright pink and yellow as accent colors are big, Summa said, but “when the economy is struggling, we see neutrals and there are neutrals everywhere.”

“Everybody’s paying more attention to price points,” she said. “We cater to an older demographic. I’ve been hearing from buyers and designers that despite the fact that the stock market is up, our end of the industry isn’t booming. People are still very uncertain with the political situation and the threat of war.”

Erica DeMarco, who owns WOW stores (Wonderful Ornaments for Women) in Boston and Dallas, said she bought shoes at Ma Belle, “the kinds of things that make you smile. It’s the element of fun and differentiation we always bring to the marketplace, the real accent pieces, like Stacy Erickson handbags and Connie Bates’ contemporary jewelry.”

“A lot of buyers aren’t buying in depth this season,” Summa said. “It’s hard for the designers because they have to lower their minimums.”

Jill Heppenheimer of Toko Enterprises was representing three collections at Atelier: Begoña Rentero Contemporary Designs — jewelry made out of paper; Neó di Roma, handbags made from Neoprene, and Yaccomaricard USA, crisp cotton pintucked shirts and jackets fabricated in Thailand. “We saw many more stores and got a lot more orders,” said Heppenheimer. “People are being cautious. They don’t want to end the year with overstocks. There’s more deliberation.”

Cathayana artisan scarves by Min W Chiu are hand-painted and hand-pleated using the ancient Japanese Shibori technique. Chiu said this was her first time at Atelier. “The orders we got are very good orders,” she said.

Jianhui, who makes jewelry and apparel out of recycled wooden beads, has a mission that goes beyond selling his product. “It’s a project for me,” he said. “I educate wood factories how to do more recycling. I also have my own factories in Eastern China. I try to employ disadvantaged women and pay them 2.5 times more than the average wage.” Jianhui said he came up with the idea for using small square wooden beads to make jewelry by accident. “I was originally inspired by a carpenter who was throwing a lot of offcuts away,” he said. “Now, I go to furniture factories and collect offcuts.”

Judy Hargrove designs the Judy Tampa collection, which is made in Tampa, Fla. Hargrove sources fabric in New York and assigns one sewer per garment so they complete the entire garment from start to finish for a sense of continuity. She buys small runs of unusual fabrics for her “urban funky” designs, which include reversible raincoats, retro-style dresses and peace jackets, drab olive colored fabric with peace signs and other insignia embroidered on the sleeves.

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