What’s in store for accessories in the new year?
It would appear that the category, starting with the spring season — which is now shipping into stores — is primed for reinvigorated interest.
A slip in sales has motivated brands, which had long relied on their basic shapes — reissuing them each season in new colors and fabrications — to reevaluate their offerings, and introduce new styles. Labels including Proenza Schouler, Thom Browne and Valentino have invested resources in redefining their core accessory lines. Designers are beginning to rethink the mold, and promote a sense of individualism through their accessories offerings. Bags from Balenciaga to Loewe are offered in a gamut of sizes, shapes and embellishments.
Bags constructed of luxe fabrics — like heavy-gauge nylon and durable satins — appear to be growing in popularity, for both their newness and friendlier price points. Candy-colored sacks by Loewe, elegant clutches from The Row and fun handheld options by Trademark exemplify the new fabric trend.
Footwear in particular is understood to be a particularly diversified category — with no true shape or silhouette currently deemed an “it” style. Rather, it would appear designers have issued a phalanx of stilettos, flats, and mid-heel styles in an effort to capture shoppers at each stage of their day. “There is something for everyone out there right now,” said of the shoe market.
For jewelry, the “demi-fine” category of delicate rings, necklaces and threadbare bracelets does not show any signs of slowing. The introductory price point has been massively successful at department stores like Neiman Marcus. Its success prompted Net-a-porter to give it its own landing page last year.
Costume jewelry, too — shown on the runways of Givenchy, J.W. Anderson and Saint Laurent — will continue to grind back into favor. Artful statement earrings and large necklaces crafted of resins and non-precious metals were purchased by department stores and specialty shops.
In the eyewear sector, novelty is also reigning supreme. Glasses are a key runway statement of Alessandro Michele’s successful Gucci vision, and his oversize, bejeweled sentiment has caught on across the category. Brightly colored lenses and frames, metal fabrications and outlandish shapes will continue to revive the category — which had long relied on Wayfarer shapes. As seen on New York and Paris’ streets in the last quarter of 2016, aviator optical frames — made both of plastic and metal — appear to be the silhouette du jour, also thanks to Michele.
The one accessories category that is perhaps vulnerable is basics — particularly given the shop-your-closet mood in the U.S. and the Chinese market’s maturation (where shoppers, too, are understood to have their own fill of basic items). In an effort to capture shoppers in the moment, and aid in the ‘experience’ of brick-and-mortar retail, buyers have waged their bets on extraordinary, emotional designs for the coming seasons. “I think that it’s these strike-an-emotion, I love it and have to have it items that are moving the needle will continue to move the needle,” said Bergdorf Goodman senior vice president fashion and store presentation Linda Fargo. “Things that feel very basic and core are things I think people already have in their closet. That’s where the business can be in trouble.”
This said, Millennials’ disaffection for big businesses and their perceived markups could continue to disrupt business as usual. New, targeted brands including Everlane, Pop & Suki and Outdoor Voices — which aim to promote transparency, friendlier pricing and design integrity — have found success. Instagram-native labels like Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Simon Miller and Mansur Gavriel have found fame and cachet on social media, further diverting Millennials’ affections from traditional heritage labels. With income rates for the Millennial age group somewhat stagnated, the cohort has developed a growing appreciation for vintage and resale sites including The Real Real — where discounted prices have shed a light on the true value of luxury. This considered, brands may need to reevaluate their models of business — not only in 2017, but in years to come.