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NEW SPIRIT SPARKS PREMIERE CLASSE

Byline: Brid Costello

PARIS — The buyers were back and hunting for trends at last month’s Premiere Classe accessories salon, with fringed and embossed leather goods in top demand.
The brisk traffic and selling at the March 15-18 event was in sharp contrast to last October’s show, which suffered fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. According to organizers, attendance figures were up 40 percent over the October edition to 12,236 visitors.
“It has been fantastic,” said Rebecca Catt, sales director at handbag manufacturer Roucou Paris. “Last season was a catastrophe and it’s reassuring to see that everyone is itching to get back into the buying spirit.”
“People are back and are spending money,” agreed Nicole Carberry, sales manager at jewelry manufacturer Jeanine Payer, adding that buyers were making purchases across the price spectrum.
Best-selling items at the jewelry stand included a chain necklace wholesaling at $100 and a bangle bracelet for $425.
“Last October, there were no American or Japanese buyers,” said Yutaka Onishi, managing director of Tambu, the Tokyo-based handbag manufacturer.
Five months ago, he did business with only 14 of his regular 60 clients, which include Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel. This session more than made up for it.
“This is the best show we’ve ever had and we’ve been here for five years,” he said, noting that leather handbags with fringe detail wholesaling for $91 were among his bestsellers.
Buyers were also in a confident mood.
Debbie Potts, owner of the 700-square-foot J.W. Beeton accessories store in London, upped her fall budget by 50 percent over last season. While a recent move to a larger premises accounted for part of the hike, Potts also asserted that accessories will be key to dressing up next season’s fashions.
“I think we can introduce color through bags as next season’s clothes are so neutral,” she said, predicting that handmade looks with treated leather and fringing will remain strong trends.
Catherine and Dominique Perault, owners of Maroquinerie Perault in Paris, were also on the prowl for leather bags with embossed or embroidered details.
Craftwork, fringing and embossed leather were top of the list for Ito Yoshikazu, buyer for Cricket, a 10-unit Tokyo accessories chain. Yoshikazu was shopping with the same budget as last year and with an eye to sharp prices.
“In the Japanese market, price is very important, so I’ll be looking for [bargains],” she said.
Price was not an object for France Maes, buyer for the five-unit accessories chain Outre-Mer, based in Waterloo, Belgium.
“I’m looking for trends,” she said. “And I’m ready to spend.”

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