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Silver, Ethnic Looks Still Top Lists at January Market

NEW YORK -- Fill-in ordering for spring and summer at the accessories market here last week bolstered the continuation of sterling silver jewelry and natural and ethnic looks as the season's top trends.<BR><BR>Traffic was active, and restrained...

NEW YORK — Fill-in ordering for spring and summer at the accessories market here last week bolstered the continuation of sterling silver jewelry and natural and ethnic looks as the season’s top trends.

Traffic was active, and restrained optimism characterized the mood of retailers.

Most buyers said they anticipated moderate gains for the season, and many vendors reported steady, if not spectacular, order-writing, both in showrooms and at three trade shows. The Accessorie Circuit ran for three days through Wednesday at The Plaza; Fashion Accessories Expo had a three-day stand through Friday at Piers 90 and 92, and Jewelers Showroom Associates was at the Rihga Royal Hotel for four days through Saturday.

Reflecting general sentiments, Marty Nealon, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories at Bloomingdale’s, said she felt good about spring, based on a successful Christmas. “Even if consumers are still somewhat cautious about ready-to-wear purchases, they can afford a new necklace,” she said.

She added that sterling silver jewelry was the single strongest category she saw, and that jewelry in general had a more delicate look than at recent markets.

Sandi Chambers, accessories buyer at Accente, a Houston specialty chain, said the store’s 16 units did well with naturals last spring and planned to add new variations for this spring.

“The neutral and natural look has been especially successful when mixed with metallics,” Chambers said. She added the firm’s open-to-buy was up by about 5 percent over last year, and cited hats, handbags and silver jewelry as key spring classifications.

Jewelry and scarves were named as spring’s top categories by Stephanie Cravaack, accessories buyer for Cincinnati specialty store Gidding Jenny.

“Although jewelry didn’t have a great Christmas, I expect it to take a jump because of all the ethnic looks,” she said. “And because of the simplicity of much of the spring ready-to-wear, scarves make the perfect understated accessory.”

Overall, Cravaack said, she expected her business to stay flat this spring over last.

Business was generally good for vendors selling in their own showrooms and at the shows. Many projected that their volumes would end up increasing over a year ago, though some reported figures staying flat.

“Market increases are running at about the same pace as they did for last November’s market, where we had gains ranging from 30 to 48 percent in our various lines,” said Dorothy Roberts, president of Echo Scarves.

She said her firm, which mostly showed goods introduced in November, did best with scarves and pareos in neutral tones and ethnic color motifs in its Echo line, and with florals in its licensed Ralph Lauren line.

Irwin Feld, owner of Marcy Feld, a costume jewelry firm exhibiting at FAE, said his business was up 25 to 30 percent. ‘We had reorders from our most recent shipments and also got a lot of advance inquiries from buyers who wanted to see us here,” Feld said. “So, despite poor weather and the show starting late in the week, I feel good about our results.”

Hat designer Kokin, who was at the Accessorie Circuit, noted that for him, this market marked a return to the Circuit after a year of showing at the FAE.

“I ended up doing about the same amount of business I did last year,” he said, adding that embellished straw hats and linen headbands were the top sellers.

Showing at Jewelers Showroom, Fred Aucoin, vice president of jewelry firm Aetna Manufacturing Co., Providence, said orders were up from a year ago.

“One reason we did well was because we just introduced a new pearl line. All we did before was rhinestone pieces,” Aucoin said. “But I think the timing also worked out well this year. Our show is going on at the same time as several others, and there are a lot of buyers out ordering.”