INNOVATIVE IDEAS SET THE PACE FOR JANUARY MARKET
Byline: Amanda Meadus
NEW YORK — Whether it’s red patent leather or going-to-church hats, definitive trends are shaping up as one of the main spark plugs of the upcoming spring/summer accessories market here this week.
Both those shopping and those showing in showrooms and at the market’s two accessories trade shows — the Accessorie Circuit and the Fashion Accessories Expo, both three-day events that end Tuesday — said they are enthused about the appearance of attention-getting looks on the accessories scene. This is a particularly good omen for the January market, which traditionally zeros in on fashion, after the basic bookings done in November.
This wave of fresh trends first became visible at the spring ready-to-wear runway shows in November. The looks, running the gamut from bright color palettes to retro-inspired silhouettes, are being hailed as a welcome relief after the minimalism of a year ago. (See accompanying sidebar for more trends to watch.)
“We’re feeling more aggressive than ever about accessories at this market, because of what we saw on the spring runways and also because of the reactions we’re already getting to fashion-forward merchandise,” said Louise Evins, vice president and general merchandise manager of accessories for Henri Bendel.
Evins noted that items being touted as must-haves for spring, such as skinny belts and patent leather pieces, performed extremely well for Christmas.
“We already even know that color is selling, as we’re seeing indications of that right now,” Evins said.
She noted that while Bendel’s already booked most of its basic spring merchandise in November, it will be actively seeking out trend goods at this market.
“There are a lot of looks that consumers can grab onto for spring and summer,” pointed out Sheila Aimette, fashion director of accessories for Macy’s East. “Last spring, things were pretty lean, but now accessories are definitely back.”
With the resurgence of shapely silhouettes and tailored suiting, Aimette noted, she will be placing belts and scarves as some of the top priorities on her market week list.
As far as fashion jewelry is concerned, the classification that ended up as minimalism’s biggest casualty began a comeback during Christmas, and it’s expected to continue into spring.
“We really believe the customer has expressed the fact that she wants to see more jewelry, particularly in the better category,” Evins noted.
On the vendor side, most say they are charged up about this market’s prospects.
“From everything I heard, the Christmas season was a good one for accessories, and that leads me to believe that buyers will be coming into this market with a lot of needs,” said Uri Alter, owner of rep showroom Apropo.
Alter, whose firm will exhibit both at the Accessorie Circuit’s Plaza Hotel venue as well as the FAE’s Piers 90 and 92 locale, said he expects a spate of eye-catching trends to drive the bulk of his business, even in jewelry.
“There are so many classifications, like handbags, scarves and hats, that are already doing so well because of the strong fashion looks,” Alter said. “Satin fabrications in handbags, for instance, have been outrageously strong. I would really like to think that jewelry will follow suit.”
Dayne Duvall, a fashion jewelry designer who also runs a rep showroom, Notanonymous, also pointed out that “there are so many great ideas to latch onto for spring that it’s entirely feasible for every store to be able to find something right for them.
“The trends are exciting and attention-getting and I think they’re really going to shake things up,” Duvall said. “Plus, the January issues of all the fashion magazines look great in terms of the accessories shown, and that is always a great, encouraging thing to see right before the market starts.” Duvall and the seven designers represented by Notanonymous will show at the Accessorie Circuit as well as in their showroom. Duvall projected a volume of $500,000 for Notanonymous during market week.
As for the salability of some of the trends, Duvall noted that even the most seemingly forward looks such as retro can easily be translated to most consumer markets.
“The magazines have been portraying things in an extreme, graphic way, and most women probably will not wear a Forties suit and carry an oblong patent leather clutch,” he said.
“But most women can feel comfortable carrying a patent clutch with the suits they are already wearing. So, ultimately, accessories are really becoming the star of the show this season.”
He also pointed to color, glamour and structure as other important trends.
Accessories designer Deborah Rhodes said she was anticipating a market far better than the one of a year ago, “because most of my merchandise has a very feminine flair, which is obviously what’s happening for spring.”
Rhodes said she has already booked some spring business and has so far seen most of the action in ultra-feminine “ladies-who-lunch”-type hats and hair accessories.
“In November, a lot of people weren’t ready for retro yet, but I expect more stores to be more receptive toward it for this market,” she said.
At leather goods firm Lopez Cambil Ltd., which makes the Paloma Picasso accessories line, hot items such as backpacks combined with a strong Christmas season look to be adding up to a successful market, said Liz Conover, president of the firm.
“Most of the stores we’ve talked to so far did very well with handbags and backpacks,” Conover said. “Backpacks in particular have become a classification unto themselves, and we’ll be showing them in a lot of new fabrications and color combinations at this market to keep the impetus going.”
At major fashion jewelry firms such as Swank and Victoria Creations, business is expected to continue its progress along the comeback trail, thanks to renewed desires in the market for both classic, feminine stylings and designer or brand-name goods.
“We’re excited because we see a real return to demand for status and logo products,” said Ed Buciarelli, president of the Guess jewelry division of Swank.
Swank, which also produces the Anne Klein and Anne Klein II jewelry lines, will focus on polished gold, cubic zirconia and other looks designed to work with tailored suits at this market, Buciarelli noted. The Guess line will also feature the current trend toward color.
Patricia Stensrud, president and chief executive officer of Victoria Creations, pointed to “an appetite in the market for better goods and designer goods” as the driving force behind her firm’s market week.
“This bodes particularly well for our Givenchy and Karl Lagerfeld lines,” Stensrud noted. To make the most of the fashion industry’s return to prettiness and glamour, she added, Victoria Creations will launch a new Givenchy year-round evening jewelry line during market week.