Strong design coupled with finely tuned prices was a winning combination for accessories designers at last week’s trade shows.

This story first appeared in the March 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Retailers shopped cautiously at New York’s AccessoriesTheShow and Accessorie Circuit, looking for inspiring, feel-good items.

“We do a lot of business with smaller boutiques as well as with the majors, and from what we could tell during presale, we are moving forward with the right price points,” said Erin Biggers, head of sales for Lockheart handbags, which wholesale from $118 to $258.

Basia Polowska, designer of Basia, a jewelry line that offers oversize silver and brass neck chains and bracelets, said buyers were focused on the bigger and the brighter side of her collection.

“My regular buyers are coming back, and they want what is most distinct and most fashion-forward,” Polowska said. “People today want the big necklace, they want to feel happy, unique — and buy pieces that are versatile and fun.”

The “bigger is better” notion also applies to belts. Kari Woodruff, sales director at Streets Ahead, a belt company based in Vernon, Calif., said buyers have not been showing any price resistance to her on-trend oversize belts, which can reach $160 at wholesale.

“Many buyers aren’t sure where to go or what to buy, so it’s hard, but this is the time where accessories pick up,” said Woodruff. “People want a ‘wow’ belt that makes a statement.”

Janna Zee, owner of the Janna boutique in Pittsburgh, said she was looking for “high-design-worthy” pieces made of semiprecious stones from the likes of Lee Angel or Alexis Bittar.

“I want the strong fashion focus at attractive prices,” Kay said. “I am my own customer, and we all want to follow the trends we see in the magazines. One thing the recession has done is provide an opportunity for designers to create really exciting collections using the limited resources they have.”

Some smaller-scale accessories designers showcased this year at the Box, a trendy trade show that originated in Paris and came to New York for the first time as part of the Train apparel show. The Box spotlighted 100 exhibitors with businesses based all over the world, specifically Europe, who are trying to reach the American market.

“We are focusing on high-fantasy designers, and I think there is a new generation of those designers with high-quality and attractive price points and we thought it was time to develop that market,” said Muriel Piaser, director at the Box.

Sisters Claudia and Catalina Pieschacon showed their fashion-jewelry line Cleo & Cat, based in Parkland, Fla. Their cuffs brushed with gold plating, semiprecious stones and oversize pendants in black clay and leather treatments wholesale for $45 to $245.

“We’re doing better than we expected,” said Claudia Pieschacon. “I think because people aren’t buying fine, they’re looking for a lot of fashion and an affordable price.”

At AccessoriestheShow, hair-accessories designer Dora Marra of Head Dress NY said her business has been doing well.

“When people have no money, they want to put some color in their hair,” said Donna Saslove, owner of Original, a boutique in Toronto that has been carrying Head Dress NY for years.