By and  on May 2, 1994

NEW YORK -- Vendors at the upcoming Fashion Accessories Expo will try new pricing and new products to stoke fall business.

As of Friday, show management reported 702 exhibitors have signed up for the show, scheduled for May 10-12 at Piers 90 and 92 here. There were 720 a year ago.

Prices will be going both up and down, as resources look to broaden their markets.

In fashion jewelry, in particular, some firms say they'll be offering more higher-priced items in silver, aiming to capitalize on one of the few hot trends in an otherwise tepid jewelry business. Some say that more expensive items also meet a consumer demand for more intrinsic value.

In other merchandise as well as in jewelry, vendors will be playing up novelties and sometimes expanded groups -- hitting harder on trends rather than basics -- to whet fashion appetites.

John Wind, owner/designer of Maximal Art, a Philadelphia-based jewelry and watch firm, said one thing he'll concentrate on at the FAE is attracting a new customer with newly lowered prices on his watches and some of his jewelry.

Wind said he has dropped his watch wholesale prices by about 20 percent, which brings them into the $40 to $65 range. In his jewelry line, which is priced from $18 to $65, he will introduce a new group that will run from $7 to $18.

"Ordinarily, we do a lot of handmade things, but to get prices down, we're using cast pieces," he said. "The look is the same, but the jewelry is not as labor-intensive."

Debra Cates, vice president of Christopher's Enterprises, a jewelry firm that specializes in Southwestern looks, said her firm will branch into a new look to spark business.

The company, based in Albuquerque, N.M., will roll out a line from Paris called Charabia that it will represent in the U.S.

Charabia features handmade jewelry in resin, leather and ceramic as well as goldplated and silverplated pieces. The line wholesales from about $11 to $24, and one of the collection's designers will be on hand from Paris to meet retailers.

The firm will also offer a collection of accessories display fixtures made of handcarved pine or aspen that, according to Cates, has done well at European trade shows."It's been a wild card out there as far as business is concerned, what with the East's long winter and L.A.'s earthquake," Cates noted.

In general, jewelers expect the silver trend to continue its spring success and stay strong for fall.

Among those taking this tack will be Me & Ro, which is based here. Robin Renzi, a designer and partner at the company, said this time her line will offer styles using leather woven with silver accents, in addition to its all-silver looks.

Marcy Feld, another New York jewelry firm, is planning on pursuing the higher-priced route, according to president Irwin Feld. The company introduced a premiere collection last fall and is expanding it for the show. The line represents more elaborate interpretations of its customary looks in gold plate and color.

"Ever since we introduced the premiere group, my best reorders have been on some of my highest-priced merchandise," Feld said. This line wholesales from $15 to $120, while the signature Marcy Feld line runs from $9 to $32.

"If the turnout at this show is good, I think it will be our most successful FAE ever," Feld noted. "We already have people calling us to find out where our booth will be."

Darren Greenblatt, an owner of jewelry company Kabelwaer here, will show at the New York FAE for the first time. The company did exhibit at the FAE's Las Vegas edition in February.

Greenblatt will feature a new item he calls "wraps" -- multi-functional long leather cord pieces accented with industrial components that can be wrapped around the neck, wrist or waist.

In other categories, Burt Biderman, president of Liberty Umbrellas here, is among those planning to concentrate on novelty and hot trends.

"Interesting prints such as tartan plaids and animal prints will be a key factor, and so will novelty items," Biderman said. "One item we have, which we call the triple catch -- a mini-umbrella inside a mini-bag with a detachable chain that can be used as a belt -- has been a very strong seller ever since we introduced it last fall."Also playing up the novelty side of the business will be millinery firm Hat Attack, which will launch its new Bottle Caps hat line. These hats are made of textiles derived from recycled plastic bottles, according to B.J. Gedney, owner/designer for the firm here. The line wholesales from $6 to $14, whereas the signature Hat Attack line, which includes fabrications such as felt and straw, is priced at around $30.

"With the new line, we think we might as much as double our sales from the FAE last May," said Gedney. "Bottle Caps represents big volume opportunities because of the price range as well as the fact that recycling is a very hot issue right now."

Steve Levine, group show director for the FAE, said this month's event will introduce a new international section, located on Pier 92, featuring about 20 exhibitors.

"In the past, we've attracted a few companies from outside the U.S., but with more on hand this time, we decided to add a separate section," Levine said.

Boding well for the show is preregistration of buyers, Levine said. With 9,000 people preregistered, the count is 2,500 greater than a year ago. Even though not all those registered might show up, the figure indicates a good turnout, he said.

Last May's show pulled in 6,900 attendees, down 800 from a year earlier. This, Levine said, probably reflected the show's timing, which in 1993 was a week before the May accessories market. This year, the show coincides with the general market.

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