HYP’S HOP: Hyp (pronounced hip), the New York-based hat firm, launched a contemporary collection called Azalea during the January market for fall selling. The line is designed by Alixx Schottland, who recently joined Hyp to head up this venture. Wholesale prices for Azalea range from about $4 to $20, and targeted channels of distribution include specialty chains and department stores.

Styles in the Azalea line include patchwork oversized looks, knit caps and newsboy looks. There are also houndstooth and flower prints, and fabrics include denim, suede, corduroy, and melton wool. Some have details such as buckles, bows, snaps, buttons and even small pockets.

"Hats are on fire and so many celebs are wearing them right now," said Schottland. "Hats are so feminine and, in tough economic times, it’s a good way for people to change their look without spending a lot of money."

Projected first-year sales for Azalea are estimated at $2 million, company executives said. Hyp makes hats under license for Mudd and Yum Pop and also produces private label lines for women and men.

ECHO’S NEW DESIGN: The Echo Design Group has collaborated with TV personality Joy Behar of "The View" to design a new scarf, some proceeds of which will benefit The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. At a cocktail reception during market week held at Echo’s showroom, Behar proudly wore the scarf, which has a red floral design and is made of cotton, so as not to slip off the head of women who receive chemotherapy and lose their hair.

"I am not a fashion plate, but I love accessories," Behar said. "You don’t have to worry what kind of shape you are in to wear them." Behar has been involved with the OCRF group since the loss of her close friend, Madeline Kahn, in 1999.

The scarf will arrive in stores in mid-April and retail for $38. It has a special tag that discusses the mission of the fund, and about 25 percent of the proceeds from the scarf’s sales will go toward the OCRF, said Steven Roberts, Echo’s co-president.

COLE’S NEW JEWELRY: One company making a fresh start in the jewelry industry is Kenneth Cole, which recently launched its new line of jewelry produced under license by Liz Claiborne. Cole had a jewelry license with Swank for many years, but it was discontinued when Swank stopped making women’s jewelry about two years ago.

The new line includes a wide range of items, such as chandelier earrings, toggle bracelets and pendant necklaces, many of which have ethnic influences. It also includes a variety of materials and stones like suede, wood, silver, turquoise, jade, amethyst, marcasite and onyx. Many pieces have an ethnic feel.

"This is a perfect complement to our Liz and Monet lines," said Ed Bucciarelli, president of the Liz Claiborne Accessory Group, who declined to give projections for the line.

Wholesale prices range from about $5 for small silver hoop earrings to about $30 for a coral and burnished-gold necklace. Distribution includes Kenneth Cole stores, as well as department stores. The product will be sold in stores starting in February for spring selling.

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