Byline: Elaine Glusac

CHICAGO — The minimalist wave of recent seasons had threatened to quash accessories altogether.
But where jewelry nearly disappeared, the neckerchief filled in. Bright swatches of fabric enlivened the strictest of dress, and scarves began attracting attention once thought the exclusive province of European women.
Leave it to a European company, then, to bring scarves to market on a large scale. Jago, based in Amsterdam, opened its first American showroom here in August, its 22nd worldwide.
“We wanted to show all four seasons of scarves,” said showroom manager Kelley Hannon on the firm’s decision to open in the Chicago Apparel Center in showroom 9-112 rather than elsewhere in the country. Management aims to open six more U.S. showrooms within the next three years, generating $6 million annually.
Mostly in-house designed, the scarves include primarily hand-washable polyesters and wools with some silks. Wares are displayed by color story with different patterns, such as the popular Prada-inspired Asian botanicals, repeated in several different color families like green, burgundy and blue.
Wholesale prices range from $3.50 for a bandana-size print to $11.50 for striped oblong knits. Open weekdays and markets, with no minimum quantities and a cash-and-carry system, Jago bills itself as an ideal resource for specialty stores. Reorders are available via a toll-free telephone number.
The showroom itself resembles a store, with black wood-grain counters, shelves and cabinets. Angled mirrors above the shelves allow retailers to try on scarves before purchasing, and Jago distributes a scarf-tying guide, which provides accessorizing ideas.
“It’s a cheap way to punch up a wardrobe,” said Hannon. “It’s a way not to be afraid of color. I would never wear [burgundy] in a suit, but I would in a scarf.”
Prints range from fake Hermes chain prints to Prada-like geometrics to still-hot animal prints. Velvets, burnout velvets and sheers are current bestsellers. The showroom receives new merchandise every two to three weeks. In addition, novelty items like boas, at $7, and teddy bear-head pompom scarves, at $11.50, add humor to the collection.
For fall, wool ponchos ($27) substitute for coats over suit jackets. The winter wool scarf collection is accented by matching headbands at $5.50, attachable faux fur cuffs at $4.50, and gloves from $3.50 to $5. Blocked and fabric hats cost $15 to $30.
With the advent of the snowy season, Jago will introduce polar fleece scarves, hats and gloves at $15 to $30.
While scarf displays bank the walls, freestanding display units feature Nicole Miller belts at $18 to $36, and Carol for Eva Graham jewelry starting at $4.50.

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