By and  on February 28, 1994

NEW YORK -- Store executives are anticipating a hot accessories season for fall and winter. While some ethnic influences and jewelry silhouettes remain relatively unchanged, the largest growth is expected to be found in knitwear -- whether it shows up in the form of luxurious layered cashmere, cozy chenille or bulky mohair and angora.

Other potential growth areas for fall accessories are handbags and hats.

Simonetta Morrison, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories at Bergdorf Goodman, cited three emerging themes that will be key for next fall: an ethnic mix of Russian and Tibetan influences; a streamlined, modern look and a return to soft, glamorous and feminine looks.

Morrison said the store's accessories budgets would be up slightly for fall, in the high single digits.

She cited knit scarves and shawls, and hats, handbags and some jewelry areas as key classifications for the season.

"We think bulky knits, utilizing a lot of cables and chunky texture, and smaller, unstructured hats and toques will be important," Morrison said. "Handbags -- a bit larger now and softly shaped -- will have a hint of structure."

She added that on the jewelry front there will be less emphasis on chokers and more on bib and multistrand necklaces, with a continued interest in cuffs and rings.

"I believe we're still in the development stage with accessories and have just begun to take advantage of the opportunities there; it's definitely a growth area for us," said Louise MacKenzie, vice president and merchandise manager for accessories at Henri Bendel.

MacKenzie projected double-digit increases in the store's open-to-buy budgets for fall.

She cited scarves as the strongest category, with chenille, knitted cashmere and fuzzy angora leading the way, and novelty cold-weather items in interesting blends, weaves and textures also as hot areas. MacKenzie noted that while dark brown and neutral tones of gray will be important, jewel-tone palettes will also be on Bendel's shelves.

"We've had a successful season this winter with color, and will offer even a wider range next fall," MacKenzie said.

She added that some classifications, particularly handbags, jewelry and belts, could benefit from the return to slightly more tailored-looking clothing.Handbags in shapes with a bit of structure, like clutches and shoulder bags, are trending up, especially in exotic skins. Jewelry in medium-sized, wearable styles that can stand up to jackets was cited as key.

MacKenzie also said that even belts, a difficult category in recent seasons, have been selling in the better price points. She expects those in alligator or other exotic materials, or with jewelry-type trimmings by designers such as Elizabeth Rand, Ann Turk and Robert Lee Morris, to continue to be strong next fall.

Hair accessories and hats are consistently high-performing categories for the store, according to MacKenzie, more as a result of a developed customer following and deep selections than current trends.

The major themes visible in accessories departments at Saks Fifth Avenue will be wintery knits, high-society classics and czarist Russian influences, according to Helen Welsh, vice president and divisional merchandising manager for accessories.

Welsh indicated that the knitwear classification will receive strong funding for fall, with the focus on off-white, ecru, gray and taupe color waves, and arctic prints in cashmere and other luxury-fiber yarns.

The classic theme will feature more tailored looks, in glen plaids and red, black, gray and white, with touches of velvet and paisley. Key categories will be handbags and hats.

The old Russian and Eastern European royal influence will focus on jewel-tone colors, and pendants and crown motifs in the jewelry classification, with rich-looking panne velvet as the predominant fabric for scarves, bags and hats.

Dan Schuster, merchandise manager for The Icing, said diverse ethnic influences, including Tibetan and Native American, are still driving business for the Enfield, Conn.-based chain.

"Our customer wants to stand out. She's not interested in minimalism," Schuster said.

He cited classifications he expects to be strong for fall, including hats, handbags, belts and jewelry, with burnished and medieval-looking metallics especially hot across the board.

Schuster said he expects increases in the low teens over last fall.

Federated Merchandising, a division of Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, will go with an overall look called "work in progress," according to Joanne Hart, fashion director of accessories."This touches on a lot of looks -- from the corporate executive in sleek and modern clothes with matching accessories to the factory-worker look in apron dresses and industrial-looking accessories," Hart said.

Key merchandise will include clean, simple metal jewelry and similar looks in hardware on sleek handbags; medals, pins and other jewelry that coordinates with uniform-like clothing, be it military or clerical; suspenders; watches in industrial-looking metals and rugged leathers.

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