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Wary Buyers at Paris Show

PARIS — Caution prevailed at Première Classe, the accessories trade show that ended its four-day run March 16.<br><br>Retailers, at the show before war broke out, had already made tough choices on budgets and purchases for next fall. As a...

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PARIS — Caution prevailed at Première Classe, the accessories trade show that ended its four-day run March 16.

This story first appeared in the March 24, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Retailers, at the show before war broke out, had already made tough choices on budgets and purchases for next fall. As a result, the show suffered a 14 percent attendance drop, with 10,482 visitors passing through the salon.

Athena Helbing, assistant buyer at Fred Segal Flair, snapped up colorful tasseled scarves featuring peace and love symbols by Tait & Style.

“They’re very timely,” she said. So was her budget for the store’s two doors in Santa Monica, Calif. “My budget is a little less [than last year],” she said. “We’re not buying as many choices. If we like one [item] we’ll do one color instead of three.”

While the open-to-buy was on par with last year for many, most were more cautious about their selections.

“I’m being very careful about what I’m choosing,” said Valerie Desmurs, buyer for jewelry store Jess James in London.

Kaori Honda, buyer for Tokyo accessories store Under The Garden, looked for shoes and accessories. Honda snapped up slouchy velvet handbags by Martine Sitbon. The style, at $280 wholesale, was a bestseller at Sitbon, according to Yannick Leleu Federici, Sitbon’s commercial director for accessories. Prices are converted from the euro at the current exchange rate.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, noted that buyers were taking a lot of time before placing orders.

“Lots of buyers are coming back [to see manufacturers] two or three times before they order,” said Scott Wilson, owner and designer of his namesake jewelry firm.

As for trends, brights will top the agenda next fall.

“I have seen a lot of pinks and browns, light colors but not bright,” said Carla Borontini, owner of Florence, Italy-based boutique BP Studio.

“Pink is very, very hot,” said Robert Tateossian, managing director of the London jewelry firm Tateossian, adding that military-inspired identity tags strung on pink suede chord at $26.50 were among the season’s bestsellers.

Fur, which has been making a comeback on catwalks in recent seasons, has also been showing up on accessories. Designer Dominique Petris said that buyers were ordering her collection of totes in lambswool, rabbit and leather, at $122 wholesale.

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