EXECUTIVES EXPLORE MINIMALISM’S IMPACT
NEW YORK — More than 50 accessories industry executives gathered Thursday morning to talk about a common concern — minimalism.
The occasion was the first Accessories Council breakfast seminar, hosted by WWD at its offices here. The Council was founded a year ago in an effort to raise public awareness of accessories.
Panelists included David Wolfe, creative director, The Doneger Group; Liz Conover, president and chief executive officer, Lopez-Cambil, maker of Paloma Picasso accessories; Carolee Friedlander, president and ceo, Carolee Designs, and Helen Welsh, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, Accessory Place. They addressed the topic “Beyond Minimalism: The Future of Accessories.” From a fashion point of view, Wolfe pointed out that the pared-down, no-accessories look that has swept through fashion magazines and designer runways for the last several years may be on its way out soon. “I think that the next big trend might even be maximalism,” Wolfe noted.
To make sure minimalism is overcome, however, the accessories industry must get to the fashion stylists and editors. Even when strong accessories do turn up on runways, such as metal cuffs did recently, fashion editors don’t pick up on the trend, he said.
On the vendor side, both Conover and Friedlander pointed out that they have been able to maintain healthy businesses because of their products’ well-established brand names.
However, as both noted, smaller accessories firms with lesser-known names or no brands at all need to concentrate on building supportive relationships with retailers — even if it means starting out with just one merchant who believes in the product and going from there.
Retailers also need to get more direction from vendors when it comes to pinpointing hot items, said Welsh.
The “Y” necklace, Welsh pointed out, was the hottest thing at retail for this past fall, “but when consumers first started asking for them after seeing them on ‘Melrose Place’ and other television programs, we couldn’t find any vendors that were making them,” Welsh said.
“What we want to know now from vendors is, what will be coming up after the ‘Y’ necklace?” she said.
Audience members said they felt the seminar sparked some thoughts about their own businesses. Stanley Stern, ceo of fashion jewelry company Medici/Two Sisters, said it was one of the most relevant meetings he’s attended lately.
“I realized that few people are real risk-takers and many more need to take chances in order to boost the success of the industry,” Stern noted.
He said getting industry executives together is a step in the right direction toward the group’s ultimate goal of bolstering consumer awareness.
Jewelry designer and manufacturer Dayne DuVall said, “I really liked the format and the speakers made me realize there are some areas that I need to devote more time to in order to boost my brand recognition.”
He added, though, that the organization needs to bring more upscale retailers on board before he would be able to see any benefits from it pertaining to his business.