By  on August 13, 2007

NEW YORK — The new dynamics of the accessories market, ranging from sustainability and technology to new methods of individuality, were the focus of a panel discussion called "Accessorizing the Future," held Tuesday at the Time & Life Building here.

The panel featured Paola Antonelli, curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art; Yves Behar, founder of design and branding firm Fuseproject; Richard Brett, Samsonite's global director of marketing and communications, and Paula Donnelly, vice president of product development for Luxottica. The panelists were presented by Kate Betts, editor of Time magazine's Style & Design supplement.

The event was presented by Lenscrafters, which also underwrote the magazine's August issue celebrating 25 visionaries in fashion and design.

"We sit somewhere between businesses and the public," said Behar. "The public wants something good and safe, and we have to have our foot planted in both camps. We want to make products that are sustainable, yet exciting and connect with people."

In commenting on Anya Hindmarch's $15 "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" tote that's going for over $100 on eBay, Brett distinguished the retail concept as a consumer need rather than a simple gimmick.

"If it's tied to a bigger movement, there's going to be a demand," he said. "Those bags are a real zeitgeist of the moment and people were ready to buy into it."

The discussion segued into the current "individualist" movement in accessories, where consumers have opportunities to custom-make everything from their eyeglasses to their bags. Panelists agreed today's customer feels the need to make a statement with accessories and that being able to make one often defines true luxury.

"People are looking for something that no one else has," said Antonelli.

Brett, whose Samsonite label recently unveiled its bespoke collection, said, "When an accessory is custom made for a customer, it's about more than a logo. It's about having an emotional relationship with a product that reflects one's individuality. And it's very in tune with how luxury is evolving."

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