PARIS — A hunt for quality and uniqueness trumped trendiness at the recent round of accessories trade shows in the French capital.
Buyers said troubled economies in Europe are reshaping shopping priorities.
“The situation is pretty dire. As a result, the public’s priorities have changed: my clients are now paying a lot more attention to accessories, not so much to ready-to-wear. And they are not looking for the latest trends anymore. Instead, they are asking for the best possible quality,” said Elva Colomer, founder of the Elva boutique in Valencia, Spain.
“The consumer has been educating herself: she knows exactly what she wants and cannot be ‘cheated’ anymore,” agreed Armand Hadida, artistic director of Tranoï and founder of Paris concept store L’Eclaireur. “So now it’s time for the stores to step up their game. It’s not about special offers or an immense variety of products anymore. It’s about giving shoppers what they need.”
Still, retailers picked up on salable trends.
“We are seeing lots of pumped-up colors, texture play and animal motifs, especially leopard,” said Colomer, who visited the Tranoï Preview, Who’s Next and Première Classe fairs. At Tranoï, she was drawn to Clio Goldbrenner’s handbags. “Our bestseller this season was a tote combining black calf hair and metallic leopard. All but one of our clients bought it,” said Goldbrenner, a Belgian designer.
Colomer also liked Shourouk’s embellished python clutches and Kat Maconie’s low-heeled shoes. “Statement platforms and high heels have been our trademark since we created the brand in 2009,” noted Stella Kattermann, brand coordinator of London-based Kat Maconie. “But they don’t sell as well as they used to, and we’ve been having a special demand for lower heels.”
Low heels and flat shoes were also prominent at Who’s Next and Première Classe. “High heels are getting lower, but at the same time biker boots are getting more and more feminine and their shapes are getting more delicate. This season we have also introduced a little bit of a heel and lots of zebra and leopard motifs,” said Joanna Klein, sales director of the French shoe brand Koah, created in 2004.
Koah’s rock ’n’ roll-inspired boots caught the eye of Deryane Tadd, director of the British e-tailer The Dressing Room.
“We always go for statement pieces. Our clients want striking accessories that will spice up an otherwise simple look,” Tadd said.
She was also drawn to Dragon’s woven leather totes, handmade in Paris; London-based brand Aspiga and its colorful beaded clutches, and the artisanal leather gloves made by Naples-based Caridei.
Tadd was looking for costume jewelry in Première Classe, where she discovered Kormelitz’s crystal necklaces and Anton Heunis’ pieces handmade in Madrid. “When it comes to jewelry, this season, more is more,” said Mimmi Alverlin, sales manager for the Anton Heunis brand. “Golden chains and shades of lapis lazuli blue and emerald green are having a great success with buyers.”
At Bijorhca Paris, jewelry trends were extreme: “Pieces are either very big or very small, extremely grown-up or girly, 100 percent gold or 100 percent humble, ethnic-inspired materials,” said Frédérique Duhamel, founder of the store Histoire de Filles in Le Touquet, France.
Among her discoveries at the trade show were the braided golden headbands of French brand Les Indiscrètes; Milan-based Pepità’s African-influenced chunky pieces, and Il Guscio’s contemporary, colorful cameos. “I’m not looking for the ‘dernier cri,’” she said. “The products that are most on trend are the first ones to be copied by lesser-quality producers and to be seen everywhere. My clients want unique pieces that will bring out their personalities.”