Times may be tough, but accessories makers are convinced that the category is resilient to the economy’s woes. Vendors said novelty items, in particular, are the key to boosting sales for spring-summer since such pieces are often delicious eye candy for trend-hungry shoppers.
“Pieces must be special — no status quo,” said Harry Haslett, the owner of handbag line Christian Livingston Collection and a jewelry line, Island: Designs by Harry Haslett, both based in Hawthorne, N.Y. “We’re thinking outside the box to create items people haven’t seen before.”
Kaye Davis, fashion director at AmericasMart in Atlanta said, “Consumers are looking for style, substance and individuality. Novelty items update a wardrobe and enhance future buys.”
Accessories vendors said their product, in general, fares better than other categories during periods of economic uncertainty.
“People buy accessories instead of larger purchases like clothing,” said Betsy Nichols Johnson, owner of French Cicada, a multiline accessories showroom at AmericasMart.
Beckey Stuchen, co-owner of Destination Bliss Jewelry, a hand-crafted jewelry design company in Tucson, Ariz., said, “People will buy a fun accessory to update an outfit; accessories will continue to do well in general.”
Dena Stockton, co-owner of 2AM Designs, an Avondale Estates, Ga.-based manufacturer of handbags, totes, diaper bags and backpacks, said accessories “are a fun way to add a statement without spending a lot of money. They are part of fashion, rather than an addition.”
Vendors are counting on shoppers’ spiritual side this spring-summer to help boost sales of accessories, particularly those sporting religious symbols.
“We’ll see a rise in faith-inspired jewelry, reflecting the country’s need to heal,” said D.J. Greenwald, vice president of marketing and sales for Italian jewelry manufacturer The LuxeGroup Inc./Piero Milano, which features crosses.
Haslett of Christian Livingston Collection and Island: Designs by Harry Haslett, said, “Our hearts are heavy, and purchases must make one feel good. Crosses represent an inspirational aspect.”
Tim Parks, the owner of Memphis, Tenn.-based accessories firm Private Parks by Tim Parks, said “larger crosses with larger chains taken from the hip-hop trends” will be offered in the summer.
A spokeswoman for New York-based jewelry manufacturer Diamonds International, said she expects “anything delicate with an estate and vintage inspiration” to be popular for spring-summer.
For spiritual jewelry hounds on the hunt for pieces with meaning, there are also items that do not have a connection to any organized religion.
Destination Bliss Jewelry, for example, offers ‘World Peace’ and ‘Protection’ necklaces, both part of the firm’s Manifestation Collection, a gemstone jewelry line with an attached tag explaining the stone’s energy.
Lisette Sand-Freedman, an account executive at New-York-based Goldstein Communications, which represents jewelry manufacturers, including Perle Utopia, Piero Milano, Henry Dunay, Cathy Carmendy and Aya Azreilant, said she expects gemstones and pearls to be popular in the spring, as well as the summer. The French Cicada’s Johnson expects to see “lots of stones, especially turquoise.”
Sand-Freedman added, “Gemstones in warm colors to pirate colors — deep purples and greens — and lapis pieces” will also be popular.
According to AmericasMart’s Davis, “necklaces with semiprecious stones, often resembling the real thing, and crystal stones and pave details on necklaces, earrings and pins” will be mainstays on sales floors this spring and summer.
Over at Destination Bliss Jewelry, Stuchen said the firm’s ‘Buddha’s Adventure’ Austrian crystal and semiprecious bracelet “brings good luck to the wearer.”
On the color front, Johnson said “fresh, soft hues like lemon quartz and smoky topaz” will be present in many accessories lines. Haslett added that “the newest pink is pale pink.”
At Kathryn Merritt Designs, a jewelry design company based in Marietta, Ga., owner Kathy Coffman said ocean-inspired shades, from turquoise to aqua to teal and a selection of icy blues will be an important group in the summer. Her company’s summer line will include deep ocean blue set off with clear sparkling crystal. Green tones, from olive to lime, will also be in the mix, as well as eggplant.
For fabulous folk who want to look luxe this summer, “yellow gold is hot, but, as always, white gold remains a mainstay,” said Julie Feldman, a spokeswoman for New York-based jewelry manufacturer Diamonds International. She said vintage silver and silver combined with stones and resins will also be popular.
Beads remain a favorite, from coral to glass. Kathryn Merritt Designs and both of Haslett’s collections include Czechoslovakian glass beads in their lines.
Accessories aficionados who veer away from simplicity will have plenty of options, as the layered look is one of the season’s must-haves, according to vendors.
“Layered necklaces, two or three layers around the neck that don’t necessarily ‘match,’ will work well with spring’s continued trend of plunging necklines,” said Destination Bliss Jewelry’s Stuchen. The firm’s layered offerings include bracelets and necklaces.
Charm necklaces, another novelty category, will also be offered by several vendors.
“Charm bracelets, which began with the Louis Vuitton charm bracelet, will continue into the mass market,” said Stuchen.
On the hats front, Leslie Correa, a sales rep for Stockton, Calif.-based hats and handbag manufacturer Dorfman Pacific Headwear Co. (the company also recently opened a showroom in AmericasMart), said she expects the category to increase in popularity. She said “a packable, lightweight summer hat with fashion styling, with a coordinating handbag” will be a must-have for fashion-forward folk. The company’s Callanan and Scala lines include hand-crocheted, straw and woven hats, some adorned with bows and beads.