Accessories vendors are leaping into new categories to fuel growth.
Accessories are staying their usual stable course, as the economic slowdown and terrorist jitters feed consumers’ need for the small and often less expensive pleasures in life.
Amid an increasingly competitive accessories landscape, creating the right mix of freshness, marketing and price points helps companies land their products on retailers’ counter space.
"Accessories is very competitive and changes too quickly," Judy McDonald, the designer at Baldwin Park, Calif.-based Far Nine Accessories said. "You just have to have a new design and come out with something fresh to offer customers. That’s how you stay ahead."
Overall, vendors are looking for ways to kick more life into the category, as well as meet customer demand for vintage and novelty items.
Firms are employing a number of strategies to build their businesses, from expanding existing lines and lowering price points to growing distribution. A number of companies said they are also branching out into new products for growth.
"During trying economic times, accessories are an inexpensive way to alter a look," said Bryan Gage with World End Imports, based in Cape May, N.J.
The company, which sells trendy, fashion and costume jewelry and accessories, scarves and handbags, said business has been good and should be even better as it expands into the must-have item of the fall — belts — as well as turquoise and coral necklaces.
Jenny Williams, market director at Dallas-based Barse & Co., agreed, saying the economic climate has helped business as people are not as apt to spend on high-end lines. "Business is doing phenomenally," Williams said. "I think the popularity of turquoise has driven sales."
To keep the momentum, she said Barse will focus on building its brand by investing in advertising and working with retailers at the direct marketing level.
Orlando-based K.C. Malhan is positioning its beaded, sequined or embroidered bags as an inexpensive way to improve a wardrobe.
"We specialize in evening and special occasion bags,"said the creative director and president Devinder J. Singh, who added that given the present economic doldrums, women are more likely to update an outfit with accessories than buy a new one altogether."Our product is designed so she can buy the handbag with a black dress and that equals an outfit."
She said business has been "incredible, with sales doubling from last year."
To help drive sales, the company dropped prices 25 to 30 percent from last fall. In addition, she said K.C. Malhan may introduce a cotton-stretch dress collection in January 2003 that’s being given a trial run in a Florida Nicole Miller store.
Faye Lim, vice president of Benfay Wearable Art, which is based in Los Angeles and offers handmade vintage-looking handbags and scarfs, said business for the two-year-old firm has been good. Consistent sellers are handbags embellished with crystals and semiprecious stones. They range in price from $45 to $150 wholesale.
"Now is a good time to be in accessories," Lim said. "People do not have to spend a lot of money to change a look."Another reason she is looking forward to the upcoming season: "People need excitement with what is going on in the world and accessories provide that."
Some accessories categories are poised for a strong year, as the fashion winds shift and old product segments become interesting again. Hats, for example, which started picking up speed last year, is a key focus for many vendors.
One such vendor is Hat Shack/Hat Sack, a five-year-old company based in San Marcos, Calif.
Said owner Jeanne Marcus, "Our products are becoming more known," thanks to a good product mix. This year, she’ll introduce a chenille tweed hat for winter formerly offered in cotton and paper. The company is also expanding into scarves, gloves and bags.
Another product category that has seen no slowdown isleather. Paul Schreiber, owner of Latisco, a leather company based in Denville, N.J., described business as "fantastic." He attributes robust sales to new design in its collections of handbags, backpacks and briefcases. Wholesale prices range between $19 to $59. "Design is driving the business, more than brand," he said. "If you put in a little flair to make the item different, but in good taste and priced with value, it will sell." He said contrast stitch groups, items that are classically casual, but with contrast stitch are selling well. Another area of growth this year is to come from the beauty arena as consumers’ have the need to feel good in trying times, but at more affordable prices.
Stephanie Sakoff, president and creative director at Lucky Chick/Heavy Duty said her three-year old business is doing great as buyers are buying deeper into lines and experimenting with lesser-known labels instead of sticking with the tried-and-true brands. "Retailers are getting behind the brand to make a splash with it," Sakoff said.
In addition, Lucky Chick will introduce a body mist and bubble bath with extracts of fresh strawberries, mangos and melons highlighted. The Pearl River, N.Y.-company just introduced a sugar body scrub priced at $22 and a peppermint sugar foot scrub with avocado oil and peppermint.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty