Accessories for fall continue many of the same trends as the past few seasons, while displaying the category’s pricing evolution, buyers said.
Shoes exhibited similar commercial trends to those introduced for spring, including boots and party shoes, while handbags displayed the most innovation within the strengthening midtier market — where new brands offer high-quality, fashion-forward designs at retail prices averaging $300 to $900.
“We definitely saw that the trends weren’t as call-out has they have been in previous seasons,” said Cassie Smart, Matchesfashion.com’s buying manager for shoes and handbags, of the fall season. “They’ve become quite diluted and transitional from spring 2018. So we are still seeing the return to the boot and emotional glamour shoes.”
Boots, according to Moda Operandi’s vice president for nonapparel, Jodi Kaplan, “remain a year-round staple for us and are really driving our footwear business.”
Saks Fifth Avenue’s senior vice president and fashion director Roopal Patel, among others, felt that the season’s trend for western boots could prove a big hit. “The big western influence in shoes is great — we saw it at Calvin Klein, at Fendi, at Isabel Marant. It’s a great statement accessory,” she said.
Kaplan noted that sneakers continue to be strong sellers, while Smart and Net-a-porter’s global buying director Elizabeth von der Goltz said party shoes are also proving popular. Such designs — embellished with feathers, crystals or metallic finishes — were seen at Attico, Balmain and Gianvito Rossi.
“Shoes right now are emotional,” Smart said. “They’re either very glamorous or very daytime, there is not so much in-between. I think consumers are investing in quite strong fashion point-of-view shoes — shoes are almost being looked at in the same way that ready-to-wear is looked at.”
English designer Alessandra Rich launched shoes at her fall presentation, a debut that was lauded by multiple buyers.
Additional callouts included Loewe’s new rendition of its Gate bag and Givenchy’s slouch boots and GV3 handbag design, both created under Clare Waight Keller’s new creative tenure at the house.
Prada’s fluorescent-tinged accessories for fall also received high marks from buyers. “I really think they are striking an emotional chord for something that’s a bit retrospective and forward-looking at the same time. It’s fun, great for our trunk-show client,” said Kaplan.
Auxiliary accessory categories like hats, gloves, belts and scarves have begun to thrive as well. Von der Goltz noted that sunglasses, particularly those with small-scale frames, continue to do well, as well as costume statement jewelry.
Kaplan has made a point to invest in belts. “I really believe in belts as a business and it’s something we always invest in — I think it’s a point of differentiation.”
Patel observed: “A lot of designers were having scarves tied around models’ heads like at Balenciaga and Valentino. It starts an important talking point about diversity on the runway and the need to address different cultures and ethnicities.”
In the bag category, midtier labels like Staud, Wandler and Carolina Santo Domingo continue to do well. “I think right now we are seeing such an exciting moment where there is an important focus on individuality. We are starting to see women personalize with some more of these under-the-radar handbag brands that are really fantastic,” said Patel.
Added Von der Goltz: “I think a lot of new independent handbag designers are coming out with really great quality designs – they are different from the contemporary designers of the past. Our customers love this newness.” She particularly enjoyed new bag designs by Nanushka and Trademark.
Smart said: “In bags — there weren’t that many bags on the runway, but we did see some pioneering bag and shapes. We are seeing more engagement outside the bigger brands.”
She noted that Marine Serre’s accessories — both shoes and bags — are performing well at retail. “We picked her up for spring 2018 and in the first week, have seen such a strong customer response. When you have someone predominantly known as a ready-to-wear designer performing across different categories, it’s really interesting,” Smart said.
That said, Von der Goltz noted: I still think [big] brands are important to people, they love a designer brand. When you touch a Loewe leather bag, it just feels incredible. One of my favorites this current season was made from woven leather and we had to reorder it because the look and feel were worth it to people.”