Backstage at Prada RTW Spring 2019

The spring 2019 runways saw an “abundance” of embellished accessories, the magpie likes of which will pique consumer interest next season, according to luxury buyers.

Designers such as Prada, Valentino, Balenciaga and Fendi continue to deliver seasonal accessories that play to consumers’ emotions. While preferred silhouettes and sizes tend to evolve at a slower pace, each season sees new variations on these staple forms.

Neon piping, macramé, feathers, crystals and embroidery finishes were strongly presented in collections spanning New York to Paris. They accented lady top-handle bags, elevated fanny packs, flat sandals, kitten heels and ankle boots — silhouettes that have been popular in the last two seasons, updated with novel touches.

“I think accessories right now, it’s really about something special and unique, it’s not just understated. You are really caring for a piece that’s either handmade or has a strong punch of color or has some embellishment on it,” said Barneys New York fashion director Marina Larroude.

Cassie Smart, Matchesfashion.com’s buying manager for shoes and handbags, concurred, saying that brands are playing to their base rather than setting forth overarching trends. “Trends are coming along less and less; brands are empowering their DNA and putting a viewpoint across. We saw that with Balenciaga — it’s inspired other brands to consider their own points of view in the landscape. Trends are becoming diluted and brands are creating narratives.”

Neon, buyers felt, was a strong concept for spring. “Between handbags, shoes and other accessories there was no shortage. Highlighter yellow, orange or pink — there were great iterations from everyone, we saw it at Prada, Chloé, Off-White and Fendi,” said Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director Roopal Patel.

Larroude feels that neon will incite consumer excitement because, “if you are thinking about neon, it was a strong hit throughout the collections but maybe a consumer is not ready to jump into a trend wearing a neon dress. Maybe a new little neon bag feels like they have embraced it enough?”

In a counterpoint to neon, natural tones were also heavily present. Raffia, macramé and a new hit “naked sandal” concept are all being banked upon for spring.

Patel called out straw styles by Valentino, Chanel, Loewe, Jacquemus and Isabel Marant. Larroude praised macramé styles by Mark Cross and Alaïa.

While shifts in accessories fashion are gradual, buyers did note a renewed feminine tone in designers’ collections — signaling a movement away from ath-leisure-type styles.

Net-a-porter’s global buying director Elizabeth von der Goltz praised the success of a new style, “the naked sandal” — a nude-colored, strappy sandal trend started by The Row this past summer. Net-a-porter saw unprecedented success with the brand’s designs, reordering them in multiple waves throughout the season.

“They were everywhere [for next season], in flat or a kitten heel,” von der Goltz said, noting that the style is a more feminine departure from the pool slide styles that had been popular but now appear to be phasing out.

Smart also noticed the change, saying: “There is a shift in sandals from slides and pool slides to silhouettes that go back to a more classic look. There are more small gladiators, toe rings and the naked sandal — something that’s uncomplicated but has strong femininity and is timeless for each day.”

Designers largely abandoned sneakers on the runway this season, saving the designs for their showrooms instead. Despite their runway absence, sneakers continue to be big business for fashion retailers.

“There was a lack of sneakers; designers did not use them with a lot of looks,” said Neiman Marcus senior vice president and fashion director Ken Downing. “That is not to say that the sneaker is disappearing — that’s like saying denim is disappearing — it’s just how we live. I truly believe the sneaker is not leaving fashion, it’s just not as present on the runway. When we did see a casual shoe it was often a sandal with a platform foot bed inspired by Teva or Birkenstocks, dressed up with feathers with decorative beading or fringe.”

Larroude noted that: “There is a wide change into a feminine look that is more refined than in the last couple of seasons, it’s not as sportswear-driven. But this doesn’t mean sneakers are going away, they are a big business.”

In constant pursuit of newness, von der Goltz has begun mining new fashion capitals for emerging accessories talent. “Copenhagen and Seoul are huge for us, the newest ones that are actually very good for us are Ukraine and Georgia, which have been interesting. Sydney is a big one for us. It’s all about finding newness, when you get to those places you see things you are not going to see elsewhere and you need to be over there to find it.”

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