VENDORS RISE TO THE OCCASION

Byline:

NEW YORK — Vendors say they were well prepared at last week’s accessories market here to answer retailers’ calls for fresh flows of merchandise.
New lines as well as items filled the showrooms. Among the launches were:
Echo Design Group’s handbag and small leather goods line, which is being produced under license by Manetti Farrow Inc. and includes groups in leather, nylon and coated printed cotton; wholesale prices run from $45 to $150.
The Robert Lee Morris scarf line, being made under license by Collection XIIX. Wholesale prices for the silk scarves go from $32 to $45.
A Line Anne Klein handbags and backpacks, which are being made by Anne Klein handbag licensee Oroton and geared for weekend and casual use. The wholesale price range is $15 to $60, and fabrications include nylon, patent leather, suede and vinyl.
A fashion jewelry line from hair goods and sunglass firm Riviera. The line, which wholesales from $7.50 to $15, was previewed at this market and will be officially launched in July.
“Stores are so glad to see anything new, and we’ve had a tremendous reaction to the Echo bags,” said Stephen Gatsik, president and chief executive officer of Manetti-Farrow. Unusual structured shapes were clicking for the new line, he said.
The line was picked up by both department and major specialty stores, he noted. Manetti-Farrow will handle these channels of distribution, and Echo will sell the line out of its own showroom to smaller specialty store accounts.
“Offering something new and exciting is crucial, and not just in the highest price points,” said Elaine Gold, chairman of Collection XIIX. “We felt there was not a lot of novelty or excitement in the bridge-price scarf market, that there were more than enough flowers and paisleys and not much of anything else,” Gold noted. “That’s why we geared this line, which is really different-looking, to that range.”
The prints are inspired by Morris’s jewelry line, which features unusual shapes and is done in colors such as copper, bronze and patina greens. Gold added that while the line was well received by specialty stores, which she had anticipated, it also sold well to department stores.
Even vendors who were offering expanded assortments of established lines noted strong responses. Premier Designer Accessories, which produces the licensed Perry Ellis handbag line, posted gains of about 35 percent over a year ago primarily because of a growing emphasis on leather handbags and small leather goods, according to president Ed Miccinati.
“Buyers now are more interested in fashion than in basics or knock-off styles,” Miccinati noted. “There’s also renewed interest in branded merchandise as well as a more item-driven approach to creating assortments.”
Le Jon Belts, which increased the size of its women’s belt line to 150 styles for this market, compared to the 25 or so styles it had shown at previous markets, also encountered strong positive reactions to its enhanced lineup.
“The belt business is just too tough right now to be offering stores a limited selection of looks,” said Stephen Weiser, vice president of Le Jon’s women’s division. “What we’ve found at this market is that just about every store we’ve met with has been able to find something to buy, no matter what trend they were looking for.”