JUMPING ON THE BRAND WAGON

Byline: Melanie Kletter

Although sales have been tempered somewhat recently, accessories remain one of fashion’s best-performing categories.
Many of the top 10 are not new to the list, but some, including Kenneth Cole and Nine West, both of which began in the footwear industry, have expanded far beyond their roots and are now multicategory brands.
Ray-Ban and Nine West, at one and two, respectively, have swapped places since the 2000 survey. Ray-Ban, which clocked in at 41 on the WWD100, is a clear leader in the highly competitive sunglasses market. The brand, which in 1999 was bought by Italian eyewear manufacturer Luxottica, has reorganized and become more fashion-forward.
Nine West has become a major accessories brand and can also now be found in the sportswear department. Since 1999, the brand has been owned by fashion giant Jones Apparel Group, under which it has developed into a lifestyle resource.
Foster Grant, number three on the list and 67 on the WWD100, has found its niche in the mass market: it is one of the sunglasses labels that now sell in discount and drugstore chains. Next up is Totes-Isotoner, which has made umbrellas, gloves and rainwear more fashionable, but still durable.
Although it slipped to number six from five, Coach in the last few years has evolved into a fashion and lifestyle leader under the direction of creative director Reed Krakoff. The 60-year-old company has developed hipper, trendier products and has expanded into new categories, including watches, home accessories, furniture and footwear.
Kenneth Cole, ranked at nine, has become a major player in the accessories market, primarily through its licensees, of which there are now more than 30. Considered on the verge of megabrand status in the fashion world, the company is also well known for its print and outdoor ads featuring socially conscious tag lines.
At number 10 on the list is Fendi, the hot Italian handbag and ready-to-wear brand. Now completely controlled by LVMH, Fendi’s handbags, such as the baguette often stir up intense passions and long waiting lists, even on these shores.

Accessories Top 10
1. Ray-Ban
2. Nine West
3. Foster Grant
4. Totes-Isotoner
5. Capezio
6. Coach
7. Aris-Isotoner
8. Buxton
9. Kenneth Cole
10. Fendi

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