Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — The accessories industry is banding together to reach consumers directly.
A group of vendors and retailers has formed the Accessories Council, an organization designed to raise the buying public’s awareness of accessories.
“We hope the Accessories Council will be a significant driving force in the expansion of this profitable and high-margin business,” said Barbara Khouri, executive director of the organization, which has an office in Greenwich, Conn. “We’d also like to mesh together a fragmented industry into a powerful consumer-oriented force.”
Principals from 18 vendors and two retailers are members of the council’s founding board. The firms involved include Accessory Network, Accessory Street, AAI Jewelry, Buxton, Carolee Designs, Christian Dior, Collection XIIX, Echo, Fashion Imports, K&M Associates, Liz Claiborne, Motion East, Mundi/Westport, Omega, Pennaco, Victoria Creations, R.J. Graziano, Robert Rose, Federated Merchandising and QVC. Also on the board are three publications, Self, Glamour and Accessories Magazine, and two consultants, Anne Keenes and Philip Associates.
Khouri, who has an extensive background in product management and marketing, was most recently corporate senior vice president of licensing at The Leslie Fay Cos.
One of the council’s first goals, Khouri said, will be to institute a national accessories week, which will include educational and promotional events supported by a national advertising campaign. While an official date has yet to be announced for the week, Khouri said the group hopes to launch a kick-off event this coming fall, followed by a major accessories week promotion next spring.
Other council aims, Khouri noted, include providing a forum for airing political and legal concerns, as well as establishing data sources on retail sales and other pertinent consumer information.
Membership will be offered to all channels of distribution at the manufacturer, wholesale and retail levels.
A membership drive will begin officially during the upcoming March accessories market, with a goal of recruiting 500 members by the end of June, Khouri noted.
Membership fees will be collected on an annual basis, with dues structured according to company size. Retailers will not be charged, but Khouri said it is anticipated that their support will come through advertising and helping to promote council events.
A video and brochure, both entitled “Leaders and Legends,” is being created to present to major stores and potential underwriters. Khouri added that, based on initial discussions with many major retailers across the country, she expects heavy participation.